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$3.4M in Grants Awarded to Diverse Entrepreneurs

The Blackstone Charitable Foundation will give up to $3.4 million in grants to Chicago nonprofits that support entrepreneurs, The Chicago Tribune reports.

The grants will be dispersed over a three-year period.

“The desire to be an entrepreneur is universal, but the access isn’t,” said Jon Gray, head of global real estate at Blackstone. “So hopefully, by putting some capital here, putting some of our people and expertise, partnering with the institutions on the ground…we can help.”

The grants will come for the charitable arm of the New York-based firm that owns the Willis Tower, and could boost Chicago organizations.

“Our goal is to try to ignite things and further the focus on this. It’s one of those things that once it starts, it can start to build its own momentum,” Gray said.

The foundation developed the challenge in partnership with ChicagoNext, the tech council of economic development group World Business Chicago. Executive Director Amy Stursberg said the Chicago program is the foundation’s first to focus of diversity.

She also told the Tribune the organization met with leaders in the city over the past year to figure out how to direct the grant money.

A desire to increase diversity was a common theme in those conversations, she said.