Project 500, Washington Area Community Investment Fund, and Latino Economic Development Center receive $500,000 investment from JPMorgan Chase

Local organizations partner to increase capital and training for underserved entrepreneurs in Washington, D.C.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 30, 2017) – JPMorgan Chase & Co. has invested $500,000 in Ascend 2020 DC, a new partnership between Project 500™ and the Georgetown University McDonough School of Business, Washington Area Community Investment Fund (Wacif), and Latino Economic Development Center (LEDC) as part of their Small Business Forward initiative. Ascend 2020 DC, an initiative to accelerate the growth of minority-, women- and veteran-owned small businesses by extending entrepreneurial support systems to underserved entrepreneurs and neighborhoods in Washington, D.C., will be announced on May 30 at Google Headquarters in DC with Mayor Muriel Bowser and Deputy Mayor Courtney Snowden.

In partnership with the University of Washington Foster School of Business, Ascend 2020 is creating local support ecosystems for neighborhood-based businesses, inner-city businesses, and minority-owned businesses in Atlanta, the Bay Area, Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. by linking business schools, business service-providing organizations and community development financial institutions (CDFIs). Over the next three years, their goal is to support 350 businesses, across the six cities to increase revenue by $1 billion. 

 “Ascend 2020 DC is about closing the opportunity gap for businesses owned by people of color and transforming lives by creating jobs for residents in Wards 7 and 8,” said Michael Verchot, Director of the Consulting and Business Development Center at the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business. “By bringing together management education, market access and access to capital through loans and investments for the first time at a national scale, Ascend 2020 will accelerate the growth of minority-owned and inner city businesses that create jobs in communities where they’re needed the most.” 

Ascend 2020 DC, Project 500™, which is led by Professor Melissa L. Bradley of Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business, will help the initiative reach its goal of increasing participant’s revenue, profitability, new hires and growth by recruiting and retaining at least 100 businesses a year. The main focus will be on growing business management skills and financial capacity, with preference for resident-owned businesses in Wards 7 and 8. The McDonough School of Business will provide access to space, sector experts and student volunteers to advance the work of Project 500™. The University will also serve as an anchor institution and prioritize procurement with Project 500™ businesses in sectors including IT, construction, office supplies, printing and furniture. Ascend 2020 DC includes two regional CDFI’s, Wacif, led by Harold Pettigrew, and LEDC, led by Marla Bilonick, which together have committed up to $1 million of much needed financial capital for the participating businesses to support their regional and national scale. 

“Small business owners often have difficulty navigating the support services intended to help them grow and thrive. The system is complex, support services are not well advertised, and it can be confusing to figure out how to maximize outcomes for their business” said Janis Bowdler, Head of Small Business Initiatives at JPMorgan Chase. “By streamlining resources, local owners will now be able to focus on growing their business with the confidence and clarity that comes from targeted, coordinated services.” 

Small Business Forward is a $75 million, five year JPMorgan Chase initiative to help women, minority and veteran-owned small businesses be successful long term and create local, inclusive economic growth.

About Ascend 2020
Ascend 2020 is a partnership between JPMorgan Chase and the Consulting and Business Development Center at the University of Washington Foster School of Business to grow minority-owned, women-owned, veteran-owned, and inner city businesses in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Oakland and San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington DC.  

About Project 500™
Project 500™ is a business development program to help diverse businesses scale in terms of revenue, staff and investment retained. Its goals are to provide entrepreneurs with training and support, with a laser focus on business and financial capacity; work with local city officials and agency leaders to eradicate policy barriers that exacerbate the gap between start up and growth stages; a place where many businesses cease to exist; and provide catalytic capital for select entrepreneurs as well as convene local bankers and investors to develop new capital products to meet the needs of our participants. Information can be found at 

About Washington Area Community Investment Fund
The Washington Area Community Investment Fund, Inc. (Wacif) is a regional nonprofit community development organization whose mission is to promote equity and economic opportunity in underserved neighborhoods in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. Since its inception in 1987, Wacif has closed nearly 400 loans totaling over $32 million, with strategic investments in small business startup and growth, affordable housing and cooperatives, and community facilities. Over the past five years, Wacif has closed nearly 130 loans for $8 million, and assisted over 2000 entrepreneurs with coaching and technical assistance, resulting in over 300 local jobs created or retained. Information can be found at 

About Latino Economic Development Center
The Latino Economic Development Center (LEDC) equips Latinos and other D.C.-area residents with the skills and financial tools to create a better future for their families and communities. Participants in our programs learn how to buy and stay in their homes, take control of decisions affecting their apartment buildings, and start or expand small businesses. The entire D.C. area is stronger when all families have the power to achieve financial independence and join with their neighbors to improve their quality of life. Information can be found at 

About JPMorgan Chase & Co.
JPMorgan Chase & Co. is a leading global financial services firm with assets of $2.5 trillion and operations worldwide. The Firm is a leader in investment banking, financial services for consumers and small businesses, commercial banking, financial transaction processing, and asset management. A component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, JPMorgan Chase & Co. serves millions of consumers in the United States and many of the world's most prominent corporate, institutional and government clients under its J.P. Morgan and Chase brands. Information about JPMorgan Chase & Co. is available at To learn more about the firm’s corporate responsibility, please visit