Facilities and Operations partners with the national network of Ascend Cities to facilitate business growth and contract opportunities for minority business enterprises. Through the local initiatives Ascend NYC and Ascend Regional NY/NJ/LI, Columbia has helped to open doors to contracting opportunities that advance the Black and Hispanic-owned businesses that are part of the program.
Columbia has been an anchor institution with Ascend NYC since its inception in 2022, partnering with the Business Outreach Center (BOC) Network and other large institutions to create more opportunities for Black and Hispanic-owned businesses while also growing its network of diverse, qualified suppliers.
The University also joined the Ascend Regional NY/NJ/LI program in 2021-22 as a Founding Regional Opportunity Partner and Co-Program Consultant, helping to prequalify and approve firms in the program to do business with the University and other partnering institutions. 22 MBEs graduated as part of Ascend Regional NY/NJ/LI's first cohort.
In 15 cities as of 2022, Ascend has a mission to create $1B worth of value with businesses owned by entrepreneurs of color. Through a comprehensive, holistic and research-driven approach, the program helps businesses grow by connecting them to local partners that provide management education, access to money, and access to markets—three fundamentals all entrepreneurs need to start and grow a business. The local initiatives of Ascend that Columbia joined provide participating businesses with contract opportunities by connecting them with Opportunity Partners looking to diversify their supply chain and that have committed to providing the firms contract opportunities.
"After graduating, we received the largest contract my company has ever seen"
James Lamarre says that the Ascend Regional Program has not only helped him keep open his business, County Cleaners Corp., a West Hempstead-based commercial and residential cleaning company, but has helped it thrive. “I run a business that requires real and meaningful business skills, and Ascend has given me the tools to manage my business and succeed.”
The mentoring Lamarre received helped him to identify his market, find software to best support his customers, meet peers from whom he can learn, and connect with the program's market access partners, including Columbia University. Through the Ascend Regional Program, County Cleaners Corporation secured work at the new Columbia Business School building after graduating - the largest contract the business has ever won.