The Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD) is excited to announce that we will be accepting applications for the 2023 WeAspire Training and Pitch Competition.
The training program and competition are for DC residents who were previously incarcerated and/or justice involved (parole or probation) and seeking to build or launch their businesses. WeAspire will include a 14-week business training program from late March through the end of June, with the final pitch competition on June 24, 2023. Sessions will meet on Mondays and Wednesdays from 5:30 – 7 pm. Every Monday will be online, while we will have 3 required in-person sessions on Wednesdays. Participants must be able to plan to attend all sessions. Sessions will cover aspects of starting and running a business, including business planning, market analysis, regulatory requirements, marketing, and business promotion, social media, and pitching your business. Missing more than 2 sessions without any explanation can result in removal from the program. Only those who complete the program will be eligible for the pitches.
Through a series of pitch competitions, Aspire participants will be awarded direct financial support for their businesses and in-kind contributions such as financial advising, marketing assistance, and mentorship. Every participant who completes Aspire Pitch will receive $2,000 in pitch awards. DSLBD intends to allocate up to $10,000 in pitch prize funding for each pitch participant from the $200,000 in available funding. Partner Marshall Heights Community Development Organization will award pitch prizes.
Eligibility Pre-review: Applicants who complete their application by Feb 14, 2023, will receive a courtesy review of their application for eligibility and completeness, with an option to correct prior to the final deadline. This will be conducted on a rolling basis.
Questions Deadline: The deadline for a guaranteed response to questions is February 24, 2023, at 2 pm EST. Questions asked after this time cannot be guaranteed a response before the application deadline.
Final deadline: The final deadline is February 28, 2023, at 2 pm. No applications will be accepted after this deadline. No exceptions.
Learning About WeAspire 2023
DSLBD will be hosting a series of events throughout March and April to discuss the WeAspire 2023 program. Overviews of the program and the application will take place virtually on both daytime and evening times on several dates in February and March, including:
You can find all upcoming events and register on DSLBD’s Eventbrite. You can watch past sessions on DSLBD’s YouTube channel.