JumpStart Receives Economic Opportunity Award at Ohio’s Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Celebration

Award Honors Cleveland Venture Development Organization for its Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion

JumpStart Inc. was one of seven individuals and organizations recognized on Thursday, January 12, at the state’s 32nd annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Celebration.

The event, held at Trinity Episcopal Church in downtown Columbus, was sponsored by the Ohio Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Commission. JumpStart CEO Ray Leach accepted the Economic Opportunity Award on behalf of the organization, which was selected based on its strong commitment on promoting greater diversity and inclusion in the venture capital investing community.

This commitment includes the launch of the JumpStart Focus Fund, a $10M venture capital fund dedicated to funding female and minority entrepreneurs in Ohio, as well as the organization’s Core City: Cleveland program, which is designed specifically to assist entrepreneurs who live or work in underserved areas of Cleveland.

“(JumpStart) was the first major venture development organization to launch a fund specifically for minority and female entrepreneurs,” read the state’s award announcement. “JumpStart’s pioneering efforts to focus on traditionally underserved communities has achieved international recognition, and now serves as a model for other communities to leverage investments for economic revitalization.”

“On behalf of everyone at JumpStart, we are honored to receive this award,” said Leach. “It’s also important to point out that this work would not have been possible without the long-term vision of our state government—particularly the Ohio Third Frontier—who has been one of our largest and most valued supporters.”

Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor was the featured speaker at the celebration, which also featured speeches from the four student winners of the 2016 Statewide MLK Oratorical Contest, held last April.

“Although much has changed during the past 50 years, Dr. King’s lessons are timeless,” said Taylor. “His unwavering commitment to nonviolence, justice and dignity for everyone is the legacy that Dr. King created and it is vital that we keep it alive. His legacy will always be a reminder that we must stand together and speak out against racism and hatred.”

For a full list of event speakers and award recipients, click here.


JUMPSTART INC. unlocks the full potential of diverse and ambitious entrepreneurs to economically transform entire communities. For more information, follow @JumpStartInc on Twitter.

THE OHIO DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. HOLIDAY COMMISSION is housed in the Equal Opportunity Division of the Ohio Department of Administrative Services, which provides centralized support for state agencies. For more information, visit das.ohio.gov/mlk.

THE OHIO THIRD FRONTIER is an internationally recognized tech-based economic development initiative that is successfully changing the trajectory of Ohio’s economy. The $2.1 billion initiative supports existing industries that are transforming themselves with new, globally competitive products and fostering the formation and attraction of new companies in emerging industry sectors. For more information, visit weare.techohio.ohio.gov.