The Nike Community Impact Fund has awarded Plug In South LA with a grant to accelerate local entrepreneurship. Administered by the global grantmaking organization CAF America, this new funding provides a boost for up-and-coming founders in and around South Los Angeles.
Led by Derek Smith, Plug In South LA is a membership organization that mentors entrepreneurs through programs and workshops as well as networking events designed to support founders from underserved communities.
The Nike-funded accelerator program evolved out of Plug In South LA’s Lunch and Learn mentoring series, which is designed to give founders an inside perspective on how to improve and enhance their fundraising efforts, Smith explained.
Since launching in 2010, the Nike Community Impact Fund has awarded more than $4.5 million in grants to grassroots community organizations in the United States and Europe. Now the fund is spurring business development in South LA.
“It is brilliant for Nike for to recognize the importance of entrepreneurship in under-served communities around the country,” Smith said. “It’s an innovative approach.”
Verizon and Silicon Valley Bank are also providing funding for Plug South LA’s new accelerator program, Smith added.
Over the past two years, Plug In South LA has supported more than 115 founders through tailored business development training, networking opportunities, and access to capital. Currently the organization is working with five founders from the virtual reality, content, and social media fields.