Forward Cities is a national nonprofit equipping communities and regions to grow and sustain more equitable entrepreneurial ecosystems.

Underlying our work is the power that entrepreneurship has to transform lives, build individual and community wealth, and catalyze positive change. Yet too many people still face significant, systemic barriers to entrepreneurial opportunity which limit economic and wealth-building opportunities for a large portion of our fellow residents, hampering the ability of cities to fully thrive and compete.

These entrepreneurs and the neighborhoods in which they are embedded are largely under-connected, under-resourced, under-valued, and under-invested, which limits their potential for success. To this end, Forward Cities is committed to ensuring that all individuals, regardless of background, can reach their full entrepreneurial potential and that the communities in which they live thrive.  

To realize this commitment we work with partner communities to better understand their current entrepreneurial landscape through the lens of equity and inclusion and help them develop and ultimately implement strategies to strengthen systems of support for currently under-connected, under-invested entrepreneurs and small business owners.  The result: better connected entrepreneurs to trusted, culturally competent resources that help stabilize local small business economies and lead to an increase in entrepreneurial starts and small business growth more reflective of the city’s demographic.

Specifically, through a data-driven, community-informed process we guide local cross-sector stakeholders through trust-building and strategic planning conversations and provide effective frameworks for addressing both small business recovery and racial equity. Together, they create an economic resilience and racial equity plan that leverages the historic resilience within communities of color and accelerates the support, stabilization, and recovery of emerging and established “New Majority” owned businesses.  

Through both our multi-month and multi-year engagements we strive to lift up lessons learned as well as effective tools and strategies for equitable entrepreneurial ecosystem building and share them out through case studies, toolkits, and our national learning network.  

Undoing generations of systemic racism and community disinvestment requires sustained commitment, adaptive persistence, and active collaboration.  Fortunately, Forward Cities’ commitment to equity and entrepreneurial ecosystem development is shared by a growing number of partners in a rapidly growing field.  We welcome further opportunities for collaboration, shared learning, and engagement and encourage you to be in touch, share your own stories, and join us in this work. 


We value collaboration and are always interested in finding new partners.

Tell us how you're interested in working together, and Forward Cities staff will follow-up within three business days. If you are an entrepreneur in Durham, NC looking for resources, please check out E3 Durham for information.