Antares launched REACH, a program designed to help level the playing field for entrepreneurs who are members of diverse and historically underrepresented groups including women, people of color, military-affiliated, persons with disabilities or LGBTQ+ people. The initiative will allocate $1 million of Antares’ own capital to a grant program in partnership with Hello Alice, a multichannel platform that helps businesses launch and grow.

REACH aims to expand access to capital to historically underrepresented groups at their earliest foundational stages, which would otherwise be challenging to obtain due to a lack of personal or “Friends and Family” funds and a discrepancy in how venture capital dollars are disseminated. For example, in 2021, women-founded companies garnered less than 2% of capital invested in VC-backed startups in the U.S., and Black-owned startups received just over 1%.

“When we support entrepreneurs from historically underrepresented groups in their nascent stages, we’re helping to drive a more diverse pipeline of companies that will ultimately benefit from the support and capital that private equity provides,” Timothy Lyne, CEO of Antares, said. “We are eager to partner with Hello Alice in an effort to accelerate the growth of these companies and drive sustainable diversity, equity and inclusion throughout the industry.”

REACH was designed and will be led by Antares’ employee impact groups. It aligns to the firm’s business heritage and brings to life the company’s purpose which is to “champion middle-market growth so that its people, partners and communities achieve their full potential.” The grant program, in partnership with Hello Alice, will award $20,000 grants to approximately 40 small businesses. To qualify, businesses must have a viable product or service with less than $5 million in annual revenue and be operated by entrepreneurs of historically underrepresented groups. All recipients will be eligible to receive an additional $5,000 unrestricted grant after completing a post-grant report and will be given access to professional development opportunities through Hello Alice.

“Underrepresented founders continue to face hurdles when attempting to raise capital for their company, a discrepancy that only hinders their ability to grow and scale their businesses,” Carolyn Rodz, co-founder and CEO of Hello Alice, said. “That’s why we are excited to partner with a company like Antares, a firm that is committed to leveraging its leadership and access to resources in the middle market to contribute to a meaningful and measurable impact for those who need it most.”

REACH is a key tenet of Antares’ We Build Community efforts, which also focuses on grassroots organizations that support historically underrepresented groups as well as giving back to the communities where Antares employees live and work.