Home Challenge grant awarded to Shenandoah Community Capital Fund

Challenge grant awarded to Shenandoah Community Capital Fund


Shenandoah Community Capital FundThe Shenandoah Community Capital Fund has secured a Venture Challenge grant via the U.S. Economic Development Administration Build to Scale program.

The Shenandoah Community Capital Fund worked with the Center on Rural Innovation to apply to this grant as part of CORI’s 2021 Rural Innovation Initiative, a technical assistance program empowering rural communities to create inclusive digital economies that support scalable entrepreneurship and tech job creation.

The Initiative was launched in 2018 by the CORI and its sister organization, Rural Innovations Strategies Inc. It was made possible through a cooperative agreement between RISI and the EDA. To date, this program has graduated 25 communities and helped rural communities secure more than $17 million to build tech accelerator programs and other elements of scalable entrepreneurship strategies in rural communities.

In addition to the EDA, the Siegel Family Endowment and Walmart are providing funding for the Initiative.

“The Shenandoah Community Capital Fund is a visionary leader in the Shenandoah Valley, bringing together diverse partners across the region to envision a strategic pathway towards increased scalable tech entrepreneurship and local tech jobs,” said Leah Taylor, CORI’s Head of Digital Economy Consulting. “We are tremendously proud of their tireless efforts to realize their vision, and are so excited that their hard work has been rewarded through this Build to Scale Venture Challenge grant. I cannot wait to see how Shenandoah Valley is transformed over the next three years through the REV Initiative.”

“We could not be more excited about this opportunity with the Economic Development Administration. This grant capitalizes on the momentum the Shenandoah Valley is experiencing around entrepreneurship and building a place that great people want to live, work and play,” said Debbie Irwin, executive director of the Shenandoah Community Capital Fund. “This would not have been possible without our amazing partners; CIT, JMU, GO Virginia Region 8, Shenandoah Valley Partnership, Charlottesville Angel Network, Charlottesville Business Innovation Council, Shenandoah Valley Tech Council, and the numerous localities across the region. The entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Shenandoah Valley will continue to thrive because of collaborations and investments like this opportunity made in the region.”

With the $1.5 million provided by the Venture Challenge grant and matching funds, Shenandoah Valley plans to use the B2S grant funds to capitalize on existing momentum within its entrepreneurial ecosystem by elevating the region’s innovation and creating pathways to scalable tech entrepreneurship.

The 2021 Build to Scale program awarded 50 grants to applicants from 26 states. The grants represent a combined $36.5 million in federal investment. Shenandoah Valley was one of just eight rural communities to receive the award this year.

Shenandoah Valley has also joined CORI’s Rural Innovation Network, a growing community of rural communities in 18 states working to train local residents in digital skills, employ them in new economy jobs, and empower them to launch the startups that will drive their future economies.



Have a guest column, letter to the editor, story idea or a news tip? Email editor Chris Graham at [email protected]. Subscribe to AFP podcasts on Apple PodcastsSpotifyPandora and YouTube.