Antares announced the recipients of $1 million in grants as part of the firm’s REACH program, which was first launched in June. This inaugural grant program was created in partnership with the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) and Hello Alice, a multichannel platform that helps businesses launch and grow, to help level the playing field for entrepreneurs within underrepresented groups including women, people of color, military-affiliated personnel, persons with disabilities and members of the LGBTQ+ community.

In total, 40 grants of $20,000 were awarded to early-stage small businesses led by diverse and underrepresented founders. Of the recipients, which were chosen from a pool of more than 100,000 applications, 90% are businesses led by individuals of color, and 88% are led by females or gender non-conforming persons. Companies from more than a dozen varied industries led by founders from four distinct generations are represented. The founders will use the grants to introduce products, expand their regional presence and further promote a positive social impact within the communities in which they operate.

“Each grant recipient underscores REACH’s core mission of supporting diverse and historically underrepresented founders and ensuring they have the resources needed to expand their businesses,” Mary (Gaede) Rose, managing director and head of the REACH program at Antares, said. “We are thrilled to support these companies and enhance the flow of capital at a foundational level, expanding diversity in the ecosystem of business on the pathway toward private equity.”

To qualify, businesses must have a viable product or service with less than $5 million in annual revenue and they must be operated by entrepreneurs of historically underrepresented groups. In addition to the $20,000 grant, all recipients will be eligible to receive an additional $5,000 grant after completing a post-grant report. They will also be given access to professional development opportunities through Hello Alice.

“We are proud to be partnering with Antares and GEN to support underrepresented founders in some of their earliest – and most challenging – stages of growing their businesses,” Carolyn Rodz, co-founder and CEO of Hello Alice, said. “These grants will play an important role in accelerating the growth of each company, while leveling the overall playing field for diverse entrepreneurs across the country.”

This announcement comes just one year after women-founded companies received less than 2% of capital invested in venture capital-backed startups in the U.S., and Black-owned startups received just over 1%. REACH aims to address this discrepancy by expanding access to capital for these historically underrepresented groups at their earliest foundational stages.

“The Antares REACH Grant is very significant and restorative to me and my manufacturing business because kubé is building regenerative food systems that exist to restore life, health, joy, dignity and equity back to people, animals and the soil. With this grant, I will create good paying production jobs to meet our growing demand,” Kai Nortey, CEO, co-founder of kubé, said.

“We know and live the needs of the recovery community every day. To have the resources to meet those needs is a rare opportunity. We plan to improve not only the business but the lives of our staff, clients and community,” Dr. Teresa Walker, owner of New Leaf Clinic, said.