The First Leap is an entrepreneurial readiness program for startup and emerging creative businesses coordinated by Chatham University's Center for Women's Entrepreneurship (CWE) and Bridgeway Capital's Creative Business Accelerator (CBA).
Whether they identify as an artist, maker, designer, or craftsperson, creatives often enjoy sophisticated skills in making. But the business skills needed to turn a passion into a livelihood often remain underdeveloped. First Leap is a program that will provide creatives with the capability and confidence to become business owners ready to realize financial resilience and social impact. The First Leap program helps makers answer the question below:
Are you a maker with a product or process ready for the market?
Is your creative business stuck as a startup, but you want to grow?
Are you ready to "take the leap" and turn your creative practice into a creative business?
Can technology help your creative business become more cost-effective?
Through an application process, First Leap will select 10-12 startup and/or emerging creative businesses and guide them through an intensive, yet supportive, 7 month program delivered in 2 phases. Startups could include makers with prototypes, but no ideas on next steps. Emerging creative businesses are also encouraged to participate to sharpen entrepreneurial skills and strengthen business foundations.
Program Facilitator: Wendy Downs, Moop | Owner, Designer, and Maker
- Identifies as an artist, maker, designer, craftsperson, and/or small-batch manufacturer
- Aspires to become a fulltime creative business owner
- At least one year of business and/or product development
- Located in western Pennsylvania or northern West Virginia
- Participating or willing to participate in CBA
- Willing to complete pre- and post-program surveys
- Minority, women, and/or veteran-owned creative businesses
- Creative businesses operating in low to moderate income areas
- Creative businesses with evidence of and/or aspirations for social impact
- Creating quality jobs
- Reactivating postindustrial spaces
- Revitalizing Main Street corridors
- Elevating underserved populations
This program is funded by a grant from The Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation.
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