Today, President Obama hosted the first ever White House Demo Day. The one day event highlighted the positive impact to the country’s economic growth, as well as American ingenuity and highlighting inclusive technology. It was also the location for new entrepreneurial ecosystem models to be announced by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). “The entrepreneurial ecosystem in America is incredibly exciting and very powerful,” said Javier Saade, Associate Administrator for Office of Investment and Innovation. “Administrator Contreras-Sweet and I welcome this year’s Growth Accelerator Fund Competition winners and the important and inclusive work they do in support of innovative and high-growth small businesses.” Mission: Launch, Inc., DC based non-profit and member of Impact Hub DC, was selected as one of the 80 recipients of the 2015 Growth Accelerator Fund Competition and will receive a cash prize of $50,000 from the SBA.

“Inclusive entrepreneurship is all about expanding the ideal of who entrepreneurs are and when their journey begins. We are excited to be among the first small business accelerators committed to including the 1-in-4 Americans with an arrest or conviction record. Due to workforce discrimination often associated with a mistake from their past, entrepreneurship is the most viable pathway to self-sufficiency for many of our cohort members. Without interventions, we are losing the restored human capital of millions of citizens and we are creating a ripple of negative economic outcomes,” said Laurin N. Hodge, Executive Director & Co-Founder Mission: Launch.

The Mission: Launch Accelerator was developed by co-founder and Director of Strategy & Innovation, Teresa Hodge, who is also a returning citizen. She brings first-hand experience to the accelerator. “When lying on my bunk in prison, I dreamt of being able to launch a business; my goal was to empower not only me but so many formerly incarcerated women. Today, is a dream come true for this organization and me.”

whitehouse-demodayMission: Launch currently operates within Impact Hub DC, a Washington, D.C. co-working space, connected to an international community that provides shared, collaborative office space. Impact Hub DC has been a believer and supporter of Mission: Launch’s work and the possibility of scaling our model within the Impact Hub locations nationally is being discussed. It is the goal of Mission: Launch, Inc. and Impact Hub DC to jointly secure scholarships and funding for this community that has often been locked-out of participating in the hope and promise of entrepreneurship.

About Mission: Launch, Inc.

Mission Launch, Inc. is a 501© (3) tax-exempt organization, and founded by a mother and daughter team as a result of enduring prison as a family. It manages Rebuilding Re-entry Coalition. The corporation is committed to the elimination of bias against those with arrest and/or convictions so that they can rejoin society and live out their full potential free of the stigma, which often creates an invisible life sentence. The mission of the organization is to improve social outcomes for this marginalized community by building software to uphold human rights, designing opportunities for civic engagement, and amplifying inclusive thought leadership as well as personal narratives to encourage empathy.