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Urban League of Rochester to operate new SBA Women’s Business Center

The U.S. Small Business Administration has launched a Women’s Business Center (WBC) here that will be operated by the Urban League of Rochester, N.Y. Inc. (ULR). The new center will carry out the mission of helping women-owned small businesses throughout Upstate New York start, grow and expand their businesses.

“The SBA is committed to helping advance opportunity for all, including for our underserved entrepreneurs who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic,” said SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman. “Women and people of color are starting businesses at the highest rates but face historic barriers to their growth and resilience. With the launch of every new Women’s Business Center, we are advancing equity and focusing needed resources on creating strong enterprises.”

The continued expansion of the SBA’s WBCs will play a critical role in addressing historical inequities and barriers, in addition to bridging opportunity gaps so more of America’s potential entrepreneurs can build connections, find resources, secure access to capital and pursue transformative opportunities, officials said.

“A core part of our office’s mission is to support the development and growth of women entrepreneurs, especially those who have been historically underserved,” said Natalie Madeira Cofield, assistant administrator, Office of Women’s Business Ownership of the U.S. SBA. “As a native of Rochester, N.Y., I know this region has experienced economic challenges that make the expansion of our network and its services within this community much needed and vital. We look forward to continuing to do our part to help grow the small business ecosystem, creating opportunities for women in business.”

ULR will receive a renewable grant award of $150,000 annually to operate the Women’s Business Center. The center will be the SBA’s 140th to offer one-on-one counseling, training, networking, workshops, technical assistance and mentoring to women entrepreneurs on numerous business development topics, including business startup, financial management, marketing and procurement.

[email protected] / 585-653-4021
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Urban League to offer entrepreneurship training

The Urban League of Rochester has partnered with a New Jersey-based firm to offer entrepreneurship training.

Rising Tide Capital will begin offering its award-winning Community Business Academy (CBA) in Rochester this fall as part of a partnership with the Urban League, the firm said this week. The program is designed to equip under-resourced and nontraditional entrepreneurs with the training and resources to build sustainable businesses that directly benefit their neighborhoods.

“We are excited to begin this new chapter for Rising Tide as we bring our Community Business Academy to parts of the country teeming with entrepreneurial promise. Through partnerships with local, community-based organizations we can ensure our model meets the unique needs of these regions,” said Alfa Demmellash, co-founder and CEO of Rising Tide Capital. “For over 15 years, Rising Tide Capital built and refined the CBA model in New Jersey and through our first pilot model in Chicago. Their success demonstrated that this local empowerment model is effective and popular. Entrepreneurship knows no boundaries, and this opportunity should be accessible to anyone who can benefit from it, regardless of identity, background or geography. Our goal is to build partnerships and collaborations in all 50 states that seek to transform communities and grow opportunities from within.”

The average Rising Tide Capital entrepreneur is a single mother of two earning at least $20,000 less than what is needed to achieve self-sufficiency. The cornerstone of Rising Tide Capital’s model is the CBA, an intensive 12-week training program for entrepreneurs on how to start, grow and sustain a business.

The program began in 2006 with 15 participants and since then, the Academy has produced more than 3,000 graduates in New Jersey and the surrounding regions. Officials noted that within two years of graduating, Rising Tide’s entrepreneurs achieve a 95 percent increase in their business sales, a 63 percent increase in household income and a 59 percent reduction in the use of public assistance.

In addition to Rochester, Rising Tide recently expanded to Willmar, Minn., Alexandria, La., and Palm Beach County, Fla. The latest cohort will train more than 100 entrepreneurs over the coming year, adding to the nearly 2000 expected to graduate from the Rising Tide Network in 2021.

The Urban League is currently accepting applications for its Fall 2021 CBA class.

[email protected] / 585-653-4021
Follow Velvet Spicer on Twitter: @Velvet_Spicer

Leadership Ontario to launch in 2021

A program aimed at helping Ontario County residents become better leaders will be postponed until 2021 due to challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Leadership Ontario (LeadOn) has identified the fall of 2021 as its rescheduled launch date, and applications for the 13-day program are available online now.

LeadOn is a collaborative effort among leaders in business, government, nonprofit and education designed to build and attract community leaders from diverse backgrounds who are committed to active involvement in their community. The program comprises 13 days of programs over a 10-month period and will offer participants the opportunity to explore and help address critical issues facing the people and institutions of Ontario County.

Applicants must live or work in Ontario County and should be committed to open-mindedness, problem-solving and helping craft durable solutions to long-term challenges.

“I’m excited to see a program focusing on developing and embracing leaders in Ontario County,” said Kari Buch, executive director of the United Way of Ontario County and graduate of a similar program in Genesee County. “(Leadership Genesee) helped me explore my inner leadership skills, foster new skills and expand my understanding of government, business and social issues.”

The Ontario County Board of Supervisors has committed funding to LeadOn for its first three years, allowing the program to grow capacity and a network of alums to support its future.

The program curriculum includes a two-day kick-off retreat and monthly full-day programs at various points of interest throughout the county. Topics include tourism; arts and culture; diversity, equity and inclusion; Ontario County Community Health Report; an introduction to county government; and more. The program will conclude with a formal commencement ceremony.

LeadOn is a tuition-based program and participant costs are offset to a degree by the charitable support of sponsors such as Ontario County, Canandaigua National Bank & Trust Co. and Constellation Brands. Visit to apply.

[email protected] / 585-653-4021
Follow Velvet Spicer on Twitter: @Velvet_Spicer

Local nonprofit creates global inclusion training movement

Rochester Accessible Adventures, a local nonprofit that trains, supports and promotes recreation businesses to operate inclusively, is hoping to train 2,020 youth and adults this year in its #WeWillInclude movement.

RAA is responding to the impact of COVID-19 with an ambitious online inclusion movement that includes a free, three-hour training that promotes knowledge and skills for creating inclusive recreation and sports settings.

“In the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is imperative that we do not lose the momentum we have gained towards creating a community that is inclusive of youth and adults with disabilities,” said RAA Executive Director Anita O’Brien. “We are very excited about new partnerships we are forming which will foster whole communities of ‘Inclusion Ambassadors’ to promote inclusion and work with us to remove physical and social barriers which keep people with disabilities from accessing recreation and sports alongside their family members, schoolmates, peers and work friends.”

The #WeWillInclude movement has two components: a way for corporations and philanthropic giving groups to financially support the effort, and online training designed for this novel time when people are staying close to home and learning to rely on their screens for unique learning opportunities for themselves and their families, officials said. A number of groups that typically spend time in person during the summer are using the online training for their staff and participants who continue to meet virtually.

“Girl Scouts of Western New York values diversity, equity and inclusion and is proud to join in the #WeWillInclude movement as a way to expand efforts to build a community of young leaders who promote inclusion,” said Alison Wilcox, CEO of Girl Scouts of Western New York. “We look forward to exploring ways our troop leaders, camp counselors and girls can continue to build these principles of inclusion throughout all of our programs across Western New York as we conduct Summer Camp At Home and future Girl Scout programs.”

The movement already has 100 registered participants between the ages of 6 and 90, in four countries, six states and more than 55 zip codes. Rochester Accessible Adventures is committed to creating Community Health Inclusion (CHI) partnerships with the implementation of a service model of inclusion; creating long-term sustainability for adaptive sports teams; and operating a regional resource network for individuals with disabilities, their families and service providers.

[email protected] / 585-653-4021
Follow Velvet Spicer on Twitter: @Velvet_Spicer

Rural health agencies awarded $7.6 million to increase workforce

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, through the Health Resources and Services Administration, has allocated more than $7.6 million to recipients in New York state to increase their health workforce in rural and underserved communities.

Nationally, HHS awarded more than $107 million to communities in 45 states and U.S. territories to improve the quality, distribution and diversity of health professionals serving in communities across the country.

“Supporting a strong health workforce is essential to improving health in rural and underserved communities,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar in a recent statement. “We’ve seen stark disparities in health and health care access contribute to the burden of the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of the Trump Administration’s work to address health disparities, these grants provide support for training of healthcare workers in rural and underserved communities.”

Awardees will be able to develop and retain clinicians in high-need areas to meet the vital health needs of the most disadvantaged communities, officials said.

“Access to a robust and high-quality health care workforce is essential for the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases in underserved areas,” said HRSA Administrator Tom Engels. “These awards help meet the demand for health care from individuals who urgently need it.”

The awards support programs such as the Nurse Faculty Loan Program; postdoctoral training in general, pediatric and public health dentistry; scholarships for disadvantaged students; and more.

[email protected] / 585-653-4021
Follow Velvet Spicer on Twitter: @Velvet_Spicer

Paychex, ESL and ConServe lauded for training programs again

Three local companies have landed once again on Training magazine’s 2020 list for Training Top 125 Organizations.

The companies are:

  • Paychex, the company that provides human resources, payroll and other services to business, ranked No. 14. It was No. 12 in 2019.
  • ESL Federal Credit Union, ranked No. 17, the same as in 2019.
  • ConServe, a collections agency in Fairport, ranked No. 41 on the list. It was No. 57 last year.

Winners were announced at a gala held at the Training 2020 Conference & Expo in Orlando, Fla., Monday night. No. 1 on the list for the second year in a row was Dollar General.

ESL has appeared on the list for 14 years.

Maureen Wolfe, ESL’s senior vice president/director of human resources and community impact, said, “It’s an honor to be named once again to the prestigious Training Top 125 list, and affirms our commitment to delivering a superior employee experience through our extensive learning and development offerings.”

Last year Paychex was singled out for a best practices award, too. It has been on the list for 19 consecutive years.

ConServe, also known as Continental Service Group, Inc.,  has been on the list for six consecutive years.

According to Training, winning companies are selected after a review of their overall training programs, budget for training, tuition reimbursement, training infrastructure and delivery, evaluations/metrics, and human resources. All companies are eligible as long as they are not in the business of selling training products or services.

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