In February 2020 JumpStart kicked off its third Northwest Ohio Impact Program and its ninth Core City: Cleveland Impact Program. Then COVID-19 hit our communities and we were forced to pivot our approach for these two cohorts, continuing to teach virtual class sessions while altering curriculum to meet the rapidly evolving needs of all the participants.
With so much uncertainty looming, we realized a decision also needed to be made regarding the culminating entrepreneur showcases at the end of each program.
These showcases are an important part of each Impact Program, providing the participants with a stage to promote their businesses and also a financial boost in the form of a $10,000 grand prize and $2,500 awards to all other participants. However, they also routinely draw more than 100 attendees, an experience not easily replicated in a virtual setting. So, after discussing the options with their advisors, each cohort made the decision to forgo the competitive showcases and divide what would have been the prize money equally among all participants.
“On top of the public health concerns, each of these businesses has critical decisions to make right now,” said Patrick Kucharson, JumpStart’s principal for educational programs and support. “We try to be as helpful as possible, and at this moment it makes the most sense to provide each of them with this quick influx of cash to help with immediate needs.”
“Each entrepreneur is being affected differently by COVID-19,” added Kenny Farrar, one of JumpStart’s instructors for the Northwest Ohio Impact program. “While we would love to see them pitch in front of a live audience, this decision gives us an opportunity to be more helpful and impactful in a time of uncertainty.”