Opportunity DeKalb launches program for aspiring entrepreneurs

Local entrepreneurs invited to Breakthrough Community Business Academy as it compiles inaugural fall class

Chad Glover, executive director at Opportunity DeKalb, speaks during the Breakthrough Community Business Academy launch event June 18, 2024 at Welsh Park in DeKalb.

DeKALB – A launch event was held this week in celebration of Opportunity DeKalb and its Breakthrough Community Business Academy, a 12-week program expected to begin in the fall to aid aspiring entrepreneurs.

The program’s first cohort is expected to convene in September. Organizers held a launch event this Tuesday to get to know those interested.

“We’re really, really excited just being out here in the summer and being part of this energy,” Opportunity DeKalb executive director Chad Glover said. “We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us, but we’re really excited about the next few months.”

Danita Sims, director of programming and community development at Breakthrough Community Business Academy, speaks during the program's launch event June 18, 2024 at Welsh Park in DeKalb.

Glover said he hopes the program can be offered twice a year.

Tuesday’s event served as an opportunity for local entrepreneurs to get to know the team behind DeKalb-based nonprofit Opportunity DeKalb and encourage people to sign up for the business academy.

“If their business is not quite ready yet, we’ll try to connect them with some resources so they can develop further, maybe be ready for the next cohort in the spring,” Glover said. “If their business is advanced beyond the Community Business Academy, we’re actually going to be partnering with Kishwaukee [College] on another offering as well. We just want to try to help businesses no matter where they’re at.”

Glover said he anticipates the business academy will be able to accommodate 15 to 20 people.

Chad Glover, executive director at Opportunity DeKalb, speaks to the crowd during the Breakthrough Community Business Academy launch event June 18, 2024 at Welsh Park in DeKalb.

He said he imagines the program will have a targeted selected criteria.

“It almost has to be a case by case review,” Glover said. “But generally speaking, someone who’s new or aspiring or is in the earlier stage of their business is a great candidate for this. Someone that’s maybe been very, very successful in their business over the years, it’s possible that they would be beyond the academy. We’ll look to connect them with other resources. … From the income standpoint, we are really committed to anywhere up to three-quarters of participants being low-to-moderate income based on our local definition.”

Glover lauded the connection that Opportunity DeKalb has made with Rising Tide Capital, a New Jersey-based nonprofit dedicated to transforming lives through entrepreneurship.

“Developing a partnership with them was game-changing for us,” Glover said. “They’ve been successful across the country training thousands of entrepreneurs.”

Throughout the summer, Opportunity DeKalb intends to host a series of information sessions where entrepreneurs can learn more about the business academy.

Those interested in participating in a cohort are advised to visit Opportunity DeKalb’s website opportunitydekalb.org.

The entrepreneurial was made possible through financial contributions from the city of DeKalb, Mortensen, Old National Bank and individual donors from across DeKalb County.

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