Since our founding in 2014, Forward Cities has worked with over twenty cities nationally to foster stronger and more equitable entrepreneurial ecosystems.

COVID-19 and a heightened awareness of racial and economic inequities have made it clear that strong, connected support systems – particularly for New Majority business owners – are more important than ever.  We provide community engagement and capacity building in five key areas:

  • Community Innovation
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
  • Research and Evaluation
  • Marketing and Communications
  • Learning Networks

Through our new responsive E3 Accelerator, ESHIP Communities initiative, and the Community Entrepreneurship Accelerator engagement (CEA), Forward Cities strives to increase connectivity and collaboration throughout a community.

E3 Accelerator

Through a six month E3 Accelerator engagement, Forward Cities leverages its extensive experience convening cross-sector and diverse stakeholders to assess the health of a city’s equitable entrepreneurial ecosystem (E3). Utilizing robust quantitative and qualitative research and discovery tools – all of which have been adapted in response to COVID and address racial justice and persistent economic inequities – Forward Cities collaborates with communities to convene a representative Council of local stakeholders.



The ESHIP Communities program was a community-driven approach for building entrepreneurial ecosystems that foster inclusion, relationships, collaboration, and social capital across networks of entrepreneurs and those who support them. The program supported the creation and evaluation of a repeatable, bottom-up approach to building and strengthening entrepreneurial ecosystems.

Forward Cities managed the implementation of the ESHIP Communities initiative as a grantee of the Kauffman Foundation.



Our Community Entrepreneurship Accelerator (CEA) is a local capacity-building engagement uniquely centered at the cross-section of economic development, community development, and business development.

Through our CEA engagement, we bring together local coalitions of community partners, entrepreneurs, and economic development stakeholders to co-create and implement strategies that lower barriers to access and participation in the local entrepreneurial ecosystem. Our work adheres to a human-centered design approach, is guided by city-specific research and evaluation, and utilizes storytelling and shared learning to amplify impact.

Orange County/Orlando, FL
Image of Orange County, Orlando Florida


In addition to our community specific work, Forward Cities works in regions that are striving to expand their entrepreneurial output and innovation capacity—particularly within currently under-connected and/or under-invested communities. By working across a region or state, there are opportunities to break down the urban-rural divide, leverage regional/state funding, and foster shared learning and collaboration.


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.