Winter 2019 Small Business Growth Program Cohort Announced

The Polsky Small Business Growth Program has announced its Winter 2019 cohort, which is made up of small businesses located in the South and West Side of Chicago. Small teams of University of Chicago students provide hands-on consulting experience to these companies, helping them address key business challenges and determine new strategies for business growth.

With funding from JPMorgan Chase, and in partnership with the Office of Civic Engagement, this program is part of the nationwide Ascend 2020 program, which partners with top universities and institutions to provide business assistance and opportunities for minority-owned, women-owned, and veteran-owned businesses in major metropolitan areas, including Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.

The Winter 2019 cohort marks the fourth cycle of this program. The cohort includes:

A’vents by August is a full event service company specializing in event management, event design, and custom floral arrangements for individual and institutional clients.

Akhirah’s Praline Candy & Coffee is a family-owned and run establishment that offers French Quarter flare by serving freshly prepared praline, beignet, and coffee in the Chicagoland area.

Cakewalk Chicago is a retail store serving home cooks, bakers, and party planners that sells professional quality tools for baking, cake decorating, and candy making.

CEI Media Group is a Chicago-based digital intelligence firm and award-winning supplier of media, marketing, and mobility solutions.

Kilwin’s Chocolate (Chocolate Girl Explosion, Inc.) is a small business and an independently owned franchise in the food handling industry that offers several collections of chocolate confections and over 40 flavors of ice cream.

Kidz Creative Concept strives to create an environment that fosters cognitive, social, emotional, and physical development through a structured programming, which includes age-appropriate activities in reading, math, art, music, Spanish, writing, and science.

Jo Jayden is a fashion and retail business focusing on men’s apparel with “custom” and “ready to wear” departments.

Magnolia Screen Printing is a social enterprise on a mission to offer our customers premium quality screen printing services and to create job opportunities for at risk young people on the southwest side of Chicago.

The Music Scene provides music lessons to mature adults and senior citizens as well as to young children in Kindergarten through 3rd grade.

To learn more about the Polsky Small Business Growth Program and to receive notification about upcoming information sessions and the application process, please complete the an interest form here. If you have additional questions about the program, please contact E.J. Reedy, Senior Director at the Polsky Exchange at

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