August 31, 2018. Announced today, Interise is one of ten finalists in the competition for a $100,000 prize awarded to a nonprofit organization deemed by judges to be the most innovative in the country.

Interise’s StreetWise ‘MBA’™ program is designed to provide executive education to underserved entrepreneurs in low-income and/or from historically disadvantaged communities. Interise focuses exclusively on second-stage growth companies — companies that survive start-up, achieve early growth, and are poised for further growth and scalability. Interise businesses historically create new jobs at 6x the rate of the private sector and are responsible for the creation of over 60,000 jobs. 

“The more these businesses have the capacity to compete and succeed on a regional, national, or global scale, the more they become engines of local economic growth: creating wealth, generating net new job growth, increasing wages, and upgrading skills and infrastructure,” says Jean Horstman, CEO of Interise.

President and CEO of Cleveland-based CGB Tech Solutions Jennifer Brunkow—a “graduate” of University Circle’s NextStep program, an Interise partner—said, “CGB Tech Solutions hires from the Cerebral Palsy Association vocational training program. Since graduating in 2014, we have seen revenues grow by 57 percent, a 30 percent increase in employees, secured two new contracts, and become certified as a Female Business Enterprise, Cleveland Small Business, and Local Producer Enterprise business.”

The performance and impact of Interise’s StreetWise ‘MBA’ (now available in 70+ cities nationwide through a partnership model) has caused this program to become the model for both a federal government innovation and a major corporation signature program. Besides these two, there are no other programs in this sector exclusively focused on leveraging the growth of established small businesses as an economic development strategy for low- to moderate-income communities.

The Drucker Institute, based in California at Claremont Graduate University, notes the organization’s emphasis for providing professional development opportunities for underserved entrepreneurs.

The winner will be announced on October 1.