Ascending to $1 Billion

Big year accelerates impact of Foster’s Consulting and Business Development Center

For more than 25 years, the Consulting and Business Development Center (CBDC) has accelerated the growth of small businesses owned by people of color, women, veterans and the LGBTQ+ community. This year, a series of momentous events accelerated the growth of its impact.

Foremost was the announcement in May that JPMorgan Chase would make an additional $8 million philanthropic investment in expanding the nationwide Ascend network, developed in partnership with the Foster center.

This investment will animate the center’s ambitious three-year effort to grow 500 businesses owned by people of color into multi-million-dollar firms. The net effect will be to build a cumulative $1 billion in new wealth.

Ascend is built upon the CBDC-developed M3 Model, which forges local partnerships to improve management skills, increase access to money and grow market connections for entrepreneurs of color in 15 cities across the country. Early results show Ascend partner businesses achieving economic growth rates of 4x-11x and job growth rates of 8x-20x the national averages.

Still acting locally

Locally, the CBDC has teamed up with The Commerce Bank of Washington to lend $1 million to business owned by people of color. Through the Foster Ignition Fund, teams of Foster MBAs, guided by faculty and industry experts, will analyze the financing needs of 75+ businesses that participate in the center’s programs each year.

The CBDC also launched a partnership with the Black Future Co-op Fund and Bank of America to build generational sustainability among Black-led businesses and nonprofits across Washington state by providing customized technical assistance, leadership development training, financial management guidance and help accessing funding.

A gift from Joanne and Bruce Harrell has created an endowment for CBDC student engagement. The philanthropy of Joanne (BA 1976, MBA 1979), a UW Regent and senior director at Microsoft, and Bruce (BS 1980, JD 1984), the mayor-elect of Seattle, will support the work being of center staff, faculty and students to provide emerging businesses from diverse communities with access to skills, tools and knowledge that facilitates economic success, job creation and wealth.

The CBDC also received a community impact grant from the Seattle Mariners Care Foundation to provide scholarships for the BIPOC owners of five local hospitality or construction businesses to enroll in the center’s Minority Business Executive Program, a foundational program of Ascend Seattle.

Ed Kromer Managing Editor Foster School

Ed Kromer is the managing editor of Foster Business magazine. Over the past two decades, he has served as the school’s senior storyteller, writing about a wide array people, programs, insights and innovations that power the Foster School community.