Facilities and Operations Joins Ascend NYC Program to Help Minority Businesses Grow and Increase Contract Opportunities

January 26, 2023

Columbia Facilities and Operations has joined forces with the Business Outreach Center Network to expand the Ascend NYC Program, a business development program that helps increase opportunities for businesses owned by people of color across New York City. The first cohort of 19 firms was welcomed in July 2022. 
“Building capacity for minority-, women-, and locally-owned businesses (MWL) in our community is an important commitment for the University and our partnership with Ascend NYC will directly support our efforts in helping our neighbors throughout New York City achieve their dreams,” says Tanya Pope, Director of University Supplier Diversity. 

Ascend NYC, part of the national network of Ascend, supports the economic development of underserved New York City communities by helping diverse entrepreneurs win contracts from larger companies and institutions while providing them with essential training and mentoring to grow their businesses. As an anchor institution for the program, Columbia collaborates with Ascend NYC to help MWL businesses establish relationships, scale their operations, and increase opportunities to grow the University’s network of diverse, qualified suppliers. Additionally, Tanya Pope serves as a lead for the Market Access team for Ascend NYC, joining other partners from educational, healthcare, and cultural institutions to collaborate on leading supplier diversity practices and opportunities. 

Currently in 15 cities, Ascend has a mission to create $5 billion worth of value with businesses owned by entrepreneurs of color after meeting its initial $2 billion goal in November 2022. 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 Ascend network has provided my business a great level of support,” says Jessica Johnson, CEO and President of Johnson Security Bureau and a graduate of Ascend NYC. Through her experience with Ascend, Jessica received mentorship on her unique business challenges from Ernst and Young, and as a result of the program, Johnson Security secured its first direct contract with Columbia University, hired to provide security services at its Medical Center campus. 

In addition to being an anchor institution for Ascend NYC, the University previously participated in 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 to do business with the University and other partnering institutions. 22 MBEs graduated as part of Ascend Regional NY/NJ/LI's first cohort.   

MWBE firms that have been in operation for a minimum of 2 years, have experience working on larger projects and are interested in participating, should visit ascendnewyorkcity.org for more information.