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.

The Small Business Growth Initiative (SBGI) is designed to collaboratively support small businesses owned by people of color in priority communities within Lake County through the infusion of financial, relational and human capital. We take a data-driven and individualized approach to working alongside small business owners to help them meet their specific growth goals while enriching the surrounding economic landscape.

The Lake County Community Foundation (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. Businesses selected to participate in SBGI cohorts will receive a grant from LCCF to support a project that will strategically grow and strengthen the business. They will also receive technical assistance for the business based on results of a growth assessment and be paired with subject matter experts to address the specific areas of growth. The goal is to have a collaborative space for peer-to-peer support and mentorship between small business owners in Waukegan, Il specifically the zip code 60085.

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

Timeline: 1 year cycle

Mission, Vision & Goals

Mission: The Small Business Growth Initiative (SBGI) is designed to advance community-based economic development and social impact through wraparound support of small businesses owned by people of color in priority communities within Lake County. This initiative is informed by various stakeholders including grassroot leaders from Waukegan.

Vision:We envision a thriving and equitable small business community in Lake County where the voices of business owners of color are prioritized and provided access to high quality tools, technical assistance and financial and social capital to help grow and strengthen their business.


  • Equity
  • Transparency
  • Community
  • Thought Partnership


  • Foster a more equitable environment for entrepreneurs and small business owners.
  • Provide collaborative space and support 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 pipelines of entrepreneurship in historically disinvested communities.
  • Increase economic development and community engagement within priority zip codes.
  • Create baseline data on small businesses in Lake County

Thank you to our SBGI Pilot Program Sponsors!



Interested in becoming an official sponsor of LCCF's Small Business Growth Initiative? Contact Maria Sievert, Director of Development,

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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