Polsky Small Business Growth Program

The Polsky Small Business Growth Program focuses on supporting small businesses owners and helping them grow and scale their businesses to the next level of success. With funding from JPMorgan Chase, 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.

Through this program, the Polsky Center will focus on small businesses located in the South and West Side of Chicago. Small teams of highly-skilled University of Chicago students will provide hands-on consulting experience to these companies, helping them address key business challenges and determine new strategies for business growth. Teams will be supervised under the direction of a senior-level executive and Chicago Booth faculty member, associate adjunct professor of marketing Craig Terrill. The Polsky Center will work with outside partner organizations such as Accion, LISC, CASE, and the Chicago Urban League to finds ways to provide additional financing, coaching, and other wrap-around services for these consulting engagements.

I’m interested in being a Client
The Polsky Center is looking to partner with small business owners who will act as “clients” and are interested in benefiting from actionable recommendations on ways to grow their business.

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What You Will Get:

  • Free consulting services from teams of highly-skilled student consultants
  • supervision by Chicago Booth faculty member Craig Terrill and support by additional experienced business coaches.
  • Opportunity to work on a 3-month project engagement involving in-depth research and analysis, regular touch points between client and team, and the development of a final report
  • Complimentary access to the Polsky Exchange

Who Should Apply: Businesses that have been in business for at least one year and have annual revenue exceeding $250,000 are eligible to apply. Preference will be given for minority-owned, women-owned, or veteran-owned small businesses that are located on the South and West Side of Chicago. Owners seeking to grow their business, either in terms of increasing revenue and/or entering new markets are encouraged to apply.

Application Process: Selected applicants will interview with the Polsky Center team to assess program fit and discuss their primary business challenges. Applicants will be notified by email on their application decision and whether or not they are accepted into the program. Click here to apply today

To learn more about the program and to receive notification about upcoming information sessions and the application process, please complete this form

I’m interested in being a Student Consultant
The Polsky Center seeks highly-motivated UChicago graduate and undergraduate students looking to gain experience in business consulting and create positive social impact.

What You Will Get:

  • Work in teams to carry out a full, 11-week consulting project, working closely with small businesses on the South and West Side of Chicago to address challenges related to growth and innovation. Groups will consist of student consultants and a senior-level business coach who will provide expert mentoring and advice. Students will receive a small stipend for their project work.
  • Training on growth marketing and innovation topics, research and analysis approaches, best practices and processes for consulting engagements, and skills for managing successful client relations.
  • Opportunity to work closely with Booth Professor Craig Terrill

Who Should Apply: Preference will be given to students with interest in business management, entrepreneurship, small businesses, social impact via economic growth in an urban setting, and/or consulting. The program will accept both undergraduate and graduate level students currently enrolled at the University of Chicago.

Application Process: Applications will open in August 2017. Interested students should complete an online application form. Select applicants will be contacted for a phone interview.

To learn more about the program and to receive notification about upcoming information sessions and the application process, please complete the form here.

Questions? Contact Kristin Barrett at kbarrett@uchicago.edu.