Supporting small businesses is at the core of CIT’s mission, and we do that by providing access to capital and expertise across a wide range of industries. We are as committed as ever to empowering companies, communities and consumers to thrive.
In partnership with Operation HOPE, CIT created Launch + Grow, a multi-faceted programming model which provides no-cost financial empowerment coaching and education to small businesses. CIT has previously partnered with Operation HOPE by offering HOPE Inside financial counseling in several of our California retail bank branches.
Last year, we first introduced Launch + Grow as a 10-part video series and social media program in partnership with Operation HOPE to educate small business owners and prospective entrepreneurs with tools and tips for success. The series was shared broadly through social, external and advertising outreach to educate and inspire small business owners.
This year, we further expanded the program and partnership with Launch + Grow: Powering Women Entrepreneurs. The goal and focus of the program are to empower women entrepreneurs by providing them with tools and resources to launch and grow their small businesses.
We leveraged the Operation HOPE 12-week intensive training program and added expert sessions with CIT leaders and industry partners. Classes focus on key topics such as maintaining strong personal credit, accessing capital and managing budgets.
The program takes place on both coasts in two major cities—New York and Los Angeles. It kicked-off in New York on April 23, 2019 during National Small Business Week. Chairwoman and CEO of CIT Group Ellen Alemany and CIT employees are actively involved in the program, offering their time and expertise to participants. CIT executives and senior leaders have taught sessions about technology and operations, credit risk and branding/advertising.
Additional activities helped build awareness and support around the program, including:
Launch + Grow will run through December 2020 and provide over 400 women with tools and resources to cultivate their small businesses. In addition, the New York program will include a network of program partners such as Mastercard, the Francine A. LeFrak Foundation, STRIVE, and the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City. The L.A. program partners include Mastercard, Bloom Ads Global Media Group, HCT Group and the National Association of Women Business Owners, Los Angeles. These partners, along with CIT representatives, will provide their expertise and insights along the journey.
The New York and Los Angeles cohorts will culminate with an "Ideas into Outcomes" business plan competition that will provide participants with the opportunity to showcase their plans and skillsets before a panel of distinguished judges. CIT will award the top three winners seed money to advance their business goals.
CIT gauged the impact of the Launch + Grow series by tracking website visits and content interaction, social media impressions and website views from external media.
Results included the following: