Jeremiah Program Launches Spark Tank Initiative to Inspire and Empower Entrepreneurs

Jeremiah Program Launches Spark Tank Initiative to Inspire and Empower Entrepreneurs

Contact: Gillian Linden

Inaugural idea bootcamp held at Annual Summit creates opportunities for entrepreneurial moms to be seen and celebrated, to strengthen their ideas, and to compete for access $20,000 in prize money

To create a platform for empowered entrepreneurial single moms, Jeremiah Program (JP) — a national nonprofit with one of the most successful strategies for disrupting generational poverty among single mothers and their children — held its first-ever Spark Tank Idea Bootcamp, helping promising early-stage current and alumni JP mom founders to elevate their business ventures and ideas and connecting them with resources — including a combined $20,000 in prize money and coaching.

The inaugural session was held during the annual JP Summit in March in Austin, Texas, and created a venue for 45 moms who had entrepreneurial ideas to share their vision, receive coaching and feedback, pitch in front of JP moms and judges and choose to compete for a chance to access seed money to grow their ideas. Ideas ranging from a juice bar to an automotive shop complete with a daycare center were presented. Judges selected the top three ideas to receive money and mentorship and JP moms selected the JP 2023 Inspirational Mom-preneur award winner.

“Talent is equally distributed, but opportunity is not. So much of the typical space for starting a business and raising money is not geared toward women, especially single mothers and BIPOC women,” said Chastity Lord, President and CEO, Jeremiah Program. “JP’s Spark Tank was designed to be an incredible professional development opportunity for everyone involved –moms, coaches and judges. It is a chance for moms who were bold and vulnerable enough to put forth their ideas – whether an inkling that they’d been dreaming about or a business that they’ve already launched – to strengthen their dream through feedback and coaching to take it to the next level. We were so proud to create a forum for these brilliant women to bring their ideas, and be seen, heard and celebrated.”

The judges for Spark Tank finalists included Hanna Campbell, education leader and story coach, and Nathalie Walton, CEO and Co-Founder of Expectful, which was acquired by Babylist.

“I’ve sat on many pitch panels, but never with contestants pulling themselves out of poverty, one day at a time,” said Walton. “Being a judge on Spark Tank was an eye-opening experience because, for once, these women were empowered to solve a genuine problem and fund a dream that would uplift their entire communities. So many brilliant ideas were shared that would directly impact some of the 42M Americans living in poverty. Talent is everywhere, and it’s absolutely found in marginalized communities. These were some of the most resilient, intelligent, and inspiring individuals I have met.”

JP Spark Tank winners included:

  • Miss TiTi’s Play Group, Infiniti Johnson (1st Place): A 24-hour, play-based learning option for the working mom, with a goal to keep the children safe, fed, clean, and happy while mom can work literally any hour of the day. “I am still in amazement that I won. There were so many great women who also inspired me that I was just taken away. I am super excited to be given the chance to really get my business off the ground. Spark Tank gave me the opportunity to be heard by hundreds of people. I didn’t expect to win, but I wanted my ideas to be heard so that people could realize the importance of what I do, so maybe a mom in Texas could start this for the moms in her area or even a mom in North Dakota or Boston.”
  • Manman Saj, Alexa Paris Saint-Fort (2nd Place and winner of the JP Inspirational Mom-Preneur Award): Community-based doula care with some Haitian essence, soon to be on wheels. “Spark Tank showed me that none of the work I have done over the last year was in vain. This feels like a full circle moment for me because, in 2018, I shared my birth story on JP’s Voices Rising stage, and in 2019 the idea of having a mobile doula service came to mind while I was conversing with my JP coach and the Director of Development (Danyelle and Dylan). To be receiving an investment for this idea from JP is not only a blessing but also a testament that JP truly wants to see moms thrive.”
  • Fresh Start Juice Bar, Erika Rose (3rd Place): A healthy lifestyle spot that gives people a second chance at a fresh start. “Spark Tank helped me to reclaim my identity. I remembered that I am passionate and that I can do hard things. Winning 3rd place was a complete surprise, but it reinforced my confidence in myself. This experience helped me to realize that I do have good ideas and that if I want to make them a reality, I have to put them out there and share with others who can help.”

    The annual JP Summit brings together moms, alumni, staff, friends, and community partners for a weekend of education, collaboration, and inspiration.

    About Jeremiah Program: Jeremiah Program (JP) is a national organization whose mission is to disrupt the cycle of poverty for single mothers and their children, two generations at a time. By investing simultaneously in a mother’s vision for her personal and professional goals and the education of her children, she simultaneously reauthors her family’s outcome as well her community’s — proof points matter. In 2022, JP supported 1,100 moms and children across nine cities in Austin, TX; Baltimore, MD; Boston, MA; Brooklyn, NY; Fargo, ND-Moorhead, MN; Las Vegas, NV; Minneapolis, MN; Rochester, MN; and St. Paul, MN.