Small Business Growth Initiative

Adam and Nydia, owners of Drip and Culture in Waukegan, the business selected to participate in LCCF’s SBGI pilot program.

LCCF is concentrating on the growth of our local communities and building strong economies for the future through our Small Business Growth Initiative (SBGI), which collaboratively supports small businesses owned by people of color in historically disinvested communities. This program concentrates on Waukegan (60085) with plans to expand to other communities.

At LCCF, we believe now is the time to collectively invest in communities that have long been ignored and discounted by larger systems. We know that by investing in small businesses owned by people of color, we are generating wealth for generations to come and creating access and opportunities for communities to thrive.

LCCF is working with partners to build this comprehensive program that will ultimately result in a network of support for small businesses owned by people of color.

How It Works:

We take a data-driven approach to working alongside small business owners to help them meet their specific growth goals, while enriching the surrounding economic and social landscape.

  1. Small business application process
  2. One-year grant up to $30,000 from LCCF
  3. Wrap-around resources, referrals and technical assistance based on desired growth areas
  4. Educational workshops and peer-to-peer cohorts
  5. Collaboration for long-term, sustainable growth

Partners: (Pilot Partner) Drip & Culture, Waukegan; Allies for Community Business; College of Lake County’s Small Business Development & International Trade Center; Lake County Partners, City of Waukegan


  • Create pipelines of entrepreneurship in historically disinvested communities.
  • Increase economic development and community engagement within priority ZIP codes.

  • Foster a more equitable environment for entrepreneurs and small business owners.

  • Provide collaborative space for peer learning networks for small business owners.

  • Encourage participant businesses’ viability and sustainability by taking an individualized approach to mentorship, technical assistance and financial support.

  • Create baseline data on small businesses in Lake County.

Why Should Your Company Invest?

  • Take concrete action with your D.E.I.efforts.
  • Gain name recognition with a unique program that has the power to create long-term equitable change at a macro, city level.
  • Have a small business grant named after your organization when you commit to $30,000 or more.
  • Gain a variety of marketing benefits as an official Corporate Partner of LCCF, a local leader in philanthropy, including:
    • Social media, website & e-newsletter publication.
    • Listing in the 2022 annual Report to the Community.
    • Multiple press releases in local and national news outlets.

Thank you to our SBGI Pilot Program Sponsors!



Donate Today

Donations may be made:

  • By Credit Card.
    To make a credit card contribution online click here
  • By Check.
    Please make your check payable to: "The Lake County Community Foundation" and reference “Small Business Growth Initiative” in the memo line.

    Mail your check to
    1200 University Center Drive, Suite 333
    Grayslake, IL 60030

  • By Other.
    Please contact Wendy Richter, Director of Donor Services & Operations, at to request the Foundation’s gift instructions should you wish to make a wire transfer or gift of stock.

SBGI Task Force

  • Adam Carson, Drip & Culture Co.
  • Bethany Williams, Lake County Partners
  • Brad McConnell, Allies for Community Business
  • Courtney Combs, LCCF Manager of Community Impact
  • Nadine Johnson, First Midwest Bank
  • Noelle Kischer-Lepper, Waukegan Economic Development Director
  • Topitiz Gonzalez, Honeycomb Credit
  • Community member living in 60085

Interested in Applying for an SBGI grant?

***The next application cycle will open in Fall 2022.

Small Business Eligibility:

  • Located within 60085
  • Business owner(s) must identify as a person of color.
  • Current and in good standing with the IRS
  • Project requests of up to $40,000 will be considered. Eligible projects must be designed to further the long-term sustainability of the business. Examples include but are not limited to specific capital investments or improvements that will enable the business to increase revenue and promote sustainability, business expansion projects (build out of a new space, outdoor seating area, etc.), and more.
  • Business must generate $50,000-$150,000 in revenue annually (or projected to)
  • A commitment to participating in the technical assistance component of the SBGI program based on specific business growth opportunities as identified in the SBGI growth assessment.
  • Business owners must commit to spending a mutually agreed upon amount of time with program partners to fully scope out the project deliverables and outcomes.
  • Project must align with LCCF’s organizational and program values.

SBGI Criteria for Selection

Program Values:

  • Community engagement
  • Community collaboration
  • Community betterment
  • Innovation

Examples of what this looks like (not limited to):

  • Events to bring community together
  • Collaborating and/or partnering with other small businesses in your community
  • Partnerships/fundraisers for local nonprofits or community-led efforts
  • A new concept and/or fulfilling a need for your community
LCCF Small Business Growth Initiative Impact Analysis coming soon. For more information, please reach out to our Manager of Community Impact, Courtney Combs, at
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