Columbia University Hosts Ascend Cities 2022 National Conference

July 19, 2022

Columbia University Facilities and Operations hosted Ascend Cities’ National Conference at Columbia’s Faculty House from July 12-14, bringing together the program’s partners, business owners, academics, and business community anchors from across the country to share best practices in supporting businesses owned by people of color, women, and veterans. 

“In our role as an anchor institution, it is important for us to invest in our local and diverse businesses, and through the Ascend network, we have been able to enhance our approach to providing an equitable distribution of economic opportunity to our neighbors in Harlem,” says Tanya Pope Assistant Vice President of Supplier Diversity at Columbia University. 

Currently in 15 cities, 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 annual conference supports the program’s efforts in developing a strong ecosystem of diverse business partners for the long term. 

Columbia joined the Ascend Regional Program as a founding opportunity partner in 2021 to support firms owned by people of color in New York, New Jersey, and Long Island and in 2022 welcomed a cohort of 19 firms as part of the Ascend New York City Program. Additionally, Columbia University’s Director of Supplier Diversity Tanya Pope serves as chair of the Ascend New York City Private Anchor Council, joining other partners from educational, healthcare, and cultural institutions to collaborate on leading supplier diversity practices and opportunities.