The Los Angeles Economic Equity Accelerator & Fellowship leverages the resources of Cal State LA - nationally ranked as the #1 university for upward mobility (Itzkowitz 2022) - to invest in equity throughout LA County, fostering cohorts of innovators that support each other as they gain the capital and skill to grow businesses and ultimately lead community-wide economic revitalization.
LEEAF draws from interviews, observations, and trainings with hundreds of business owners of color to target the financial, social, and emotional barriers most important to move the needle for economic opportunity in the LA area. Our approach is rooted in a broad base of research: Women of color are underserved engines of the economy. Few programs directly meet the needs of these economic leaders but 79% of Black mothers and 49% of Latina mothers are main breadwinners for their families (NWLC 2021) and 47% of businesses started by women since the pandemic are owned by women of color (Gusto 2021).
Network of leaders
Access to early-stage financial, social, and human capital are key. Loan denial rates for small business owners of color are 3x higher than those of white-led firms, 42% to 16% (MBDA 2017). 61% of businesses founded by Black women are completely self-funded and only 3% of mature businesses are run by Black women (HBR 2021). Accelerator members receive years of follow-on support and workshops reach hundreds more, fostering a long-term network of economic leaders.
Workforce development is key to solving human capital needs. College graduates from communities of color should be the catalysts of community economic revitalization. Only 43% of employers feel recent grads are proficient (Forbes 2018) and many students lack access to high-level workforce experiences during college. Academic research and public relations campaigns directly target obstacles to growth and place BIPOC women-led businesses at the center of narratives of economic success.
LEEAF PILLARS OF IMPACT
Business Accelerator: Building regional equity one entrepreneur at a time
Made by and for women of color entrepreneurs. Hablamos Espanol
Student Fellowship: Workforce development for next-gen leaders
Cal State LA student Fellows develop skills and networks for career success.
Community & Beyond: Tools, research and rigor for regional and national impact
Trainings leverage field-tested LEEAF tools to benefit additional business leaders annually, who work alongside LEEAF to shift narratives and open space for economic equity across the region.