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Mission Statement

Forward Cities is focused on accomplishing the following objectives:
  1. Identify ways to develop/support more business entrepreneurs, social innovators and neighborhood change-makers from low-income communities of color, and working in them, in addition to ensuring that there is a vibrant pipeline for the next generation of local entrepreneurs and citizen problem solvers, including opportunity youth
  2. Figure out best strategies for harnessing the talent and creativity of our local entrepreneurial/innovation ecosystems in order to address the most critical issues/challenges that exist in our cities' most distressed neighborhoods/communities.
  3. Strengthen existing networks and accelerate entrepreneurial activity within the participating cities, and their surrounding areas;
  4. Foster best practice sharing, relationship building, and entrepreneurial activity among the participating cities, and their surrounding areas; and
  5. Serve as a dynamic knowledge resource for others that are looking to build out their innovation ecosystems.

During the last two years, Forward Cities has given its first cohort of participating cities - New Orleans, Detroit, Durham and Cleveland - an opportunity to: 

  1. Explore issues of inclusive innovation (so that each participating city/ region’s current entrepreneurial boom does not leave the most vulnerable behind); 
  2. Identify the most effective ways for supporting and developing leaders, entrepreneurs and businesses, in low income neighborhoods; and
  3. Discuss strategies to build innovative leadership and an entrepreneurial workforce, especially in traditionally disconnected communities (as well as developing the capacity of high-growth enterprises to recruit/train opportunity youth).
Forward Cities is now extending this multi-city learning collaborative for an additional year with specific outcomes in mind including:
  1. Supporting ongoing efforts to increase minority entrepreneurial activity and connectivity within participating cities;
  2. Evaluating and documenting the impact this project has had on these cities;
  3. Deepening relationships and trust within and between each participating city that increases the likelihood of sustained collective impact;
  4. Strengthening connections between cities that create opportunities for learning, collaboration and the sharing of promising practices, in addition to new business development and investment (or funding) opportunities;
  5. Capturing the stories and lessons of inclusive innovation efforts within each Forward City that can be shared with interested stakeholders nationally; and
  6. Codifying the Forward Cities multi-city learning collaborative process and lessons learned for cities, communities and/or organizations interested in replicating this kind of initiative back home.
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