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CSU Receives “Knowledge Challenge” Grant To Fund Study Of Underserved Entrepreneurs

Cleveland State University (CSU) received a $225,000 grant through The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation’s “Knowledge Challenge,” a biannual program dedicated to the education and advancement of entrepreneurship in the United States.

“We are grateful to The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation for this significant investment and partnering with the CSU Center for Economic Development (CED) on our effort to address systemic challenges that will impact minority entrepreneurs’ ability to start and grow businesses,” said Merissa Piazza, Ph.D., program manager for the Center for Economic Development, an applied research center within CSU’s Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs.

Dr. Piazza and the CED research team will begin their project in January 2021, partnering with the Equity and Inclusion Division at the Greater Cleveland Partnership, JumpStart Inc., and the Cleveland FoundationThrough this research-practice collaborative, they will study entrepreneurial gaps and work with practitioners to test actionable policies to overcome disparities in real-time within the three entrepreneurial ecosystems of Cleveland, Dayton and Toledo.

The research team will focus on investigating institutionalized racism, discrimination and limited access to capital and networking – making it more difficult for minority entrepreneurs to start, successfully fund, launch new enterprises and sustain their business.

After four years of creating and testing policy, the CED team plans to see their end goal realized by December 2024: improved practice of entrepreneurial service providers and increased access to resources for minority entrepreneurs.

“As we work alongside three communities in Ohio to ‘rebuild better,’ we look forward to highlighting the critical role policy plays for minority businesses,” Dr. Piazza shared. “Better entrepreneurship creates jobs, provides family income and strengthens communities.”