Newswise — The Sorenson Impact Center, a think tank housed at the University of Utah’s David Eccles School of Business, has been awarded a $600,000 grant from the US Economic Development Administration (EDA). Project DEEP (Developing Equitable Economies Program) is the first university-based, multi-pronged initiative to support women and BIPOC (black, indigenous, and people of color) as entrepreneurs, investors, and workforce leaders in the innovation economy.

Project DEEP will focus on Utah and the intermountain region (Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevado, and Wyoming) and provide a suite of support to combat systemic racial and gender inequities in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Over the course of the next two years, the Sorenson Impact Center will develop a range of training materials featuring subject matter experts targeted at capital providers, resource partners, corporations and entrepreneurs in an effort to break down barriers faced by diverse founders in entrepreneurship.

Additionally, the program will offer direct mentorship, marketing services, and networking opportunities to over 20 entrepreneurs in our community. The Center will apply our patented Impact Measurement methodology to test the effectiveness and success of this program - paving a path for universities throughout the nation to apply this approach.

The program is supplemented by a further $600,999 in support from The Sorenson Impact Foundation and in-kind support from the University of Utah.

Geoff Davis, CEO, Sorenson Impact Center, said:

“If we truly want to achieve an equitable recovery from COVID-19 we need to think about creating an economy that reflects our demographics and diversity.

“Project DEEP puts women entrepreneurs, and black, indigenous, and other people of color at the forefront of the innovation economy. It seeks to redress an unfair and much needed change in our economy through providing targeted support to aspiring entrepreneurs.”

Kyra Clarke, Project DEEP Lead, Sorenson Impact Center, said:

“There is no reason why gender and racial inequity in entrepreneurship continues to exist in 2020, yet we know that women and members of the BIPOC community continue to be shut out from opportunities in entrepreneurship.

“Project DEEP aims to change the status quo by addressing both sides of the table. While equipping historically marginalized entrepreneurs with the social and technical capital needed to overcome challenges, we will work to weaken systemic barriers by driving intentional diversity, equality and inclusion practices among ecosystem players, capital providers, and policy makers.”

About the Center:

The Sorenson Impact Center is an applied academic organization focused on solving social problems through the use of data, evidence, and innovation. Housed at the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah, the Center works with public, nonprofit, and private sector stakeholders across the nation and internationally to develop and implement outcomes-driven solutions.

The Center has a staff of 35 colleagues, which includes experts in data science, finance, policy, investment, marketing and communications, and economic development. These professionals are supported by 60 graduate and undergraduate students from diverse disciplines who support the delivery of the Center’s work. This focus on student engagement is rooted in the Center’s broader mission of empowering the next generation of social impact entrepreneurs and experts.