Business handshake (Photo: manop1984, Getty Images/iStockphoto)

STAUNTON – AT&T is collaborating with the Staunton Creative Community Fund to create a funding pool for entrepreneurs in the Shenandoah Valley. 

One pool will specifically be a grant program for minority and women-owned businesses that have been negatively impacted by COVID-19 and other financial barriers, a release said.

“Women and People of Color are statistically more likely to become entrepreneurs,” Executive Director of SCCF Debbie Irwin said in a release. “They are also more likely to face unique challenges as entrepreneurs for a number of reasons, including limited access to credit, poor financial health and COVID-related issues. Through this program we hope to fill in some of the gaps that exist for these entrepreneurs that enrich our communities so greatly.”

Another pool will be a full scholarship program, part of the SCCF’s business planning course, called Business Bootcamp. 

Business Bootcamp is an 8-week class to help you launch your business. Those in attendance will develop business skills and determine the viability of your idea and what it will take to be a successful entrepreneur.

They will learn:

  • Business Modeling
  • Understanding Pricing and Break-Even Analysis
  • Cash Flow Projections

The course also offers question and answer sessions with local entrepreneurs and covers topics like legal entities; business taxes; setting up your business; and pitching ideas effectively.

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AT&T has contributed $16,000 to the program. SCCF will distribute six $2,000 grants and will send six qualified entrepreneurs through the Business Bootcamp class in 2021. 

“We know there is much more that must be addressed when it comes to inequities across every facet of society,” said Vince Apruzzese, president of AT&T-Virginia, in a release. “By teaming up with SCCF, we’re taking a step together toward addressing the inequities and challenges that women and minority entrepreneurs face every day. This program provides them with additional tools to start, grow and sustain businesses in Virginia, which is great for their families and communities – and for our entire Commonwealth.”

For more information on the Women and Minority-Owned Business Support program, e-mail [email protected].

SCCF is a nonprofit organization that helps entrepreneurs in the Shenandoah Valley with classes, funds and more. For more information on the organization go to AT&T’s philanthropy and social innovation invests in projects that promote academic and economic achievements and addressing community needs like those that promote social justice and racial equality.

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You can reach reporter Laura Peters at [email protected]. Follow her @peterslaura.

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