Launch NY Honored for its Inclusive Economy Building Efforts

Buffalo, N.Y. – Launch NY, a nonprofit venture development organization focused on growing the region’s economy through mentorship and funding support for high-growth startups, is the recipient of the 2021 Building Inclusive Economy Award, presented by the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Western New York, which works with community partners to bring local neighborhood ideas to life by creating great places to live, work and raise a family for all.

The award recognizes an organization, individual, project or program that improves economic outcomes in equitable ways and accompanies a $5,000 grant. Launch NY was nominated for this award for its Founders Go Big (FGB) program, a key component of its work with underserved populations. FGB is a diversity and inclusion initiative that provides specialized resources for minority- and women-led startups and offers tailored mentorship to attract and serve underrepresented entrepreneurs.

Co-led by successful entrepreneurs and WNY expats Anthony Jones and Crystal Callahan, and with the leadership of project manager Crystal Wallace, as well Launch NY team members Marnie LaVigne, President & CEO, David Thurlow, Program Manager, and Don De Laria, Entrepreneur-in-Residence, FGB provides tailored mentorship and access to a “Starter Funding Pool.” As the first initiative of its kind in the region for scalable businesses, FGB delivers coaching combined with $5,000 to $20,000 in initial funding in order to help minority- and women-led businesses reach important milestones, so they are investment-ready for their first rounds of seed capital.

“Launch NY has had a long track record of supporting a diverse portfolio comprising of more than 40% women and/or minority founders, which we took to a new level through our Founders Go Big program,” said LaVigne. “We’ve been able to engage dozens of new underrepresented entrepreneurs during the pandemic, when our community has needed this kind of economic and emotional boost more than ever. Thanks to the recognition from LISC Western New York, we can take a moment to celebrate and then take off again on expanding our outreach and program efforts.”

Funding from JPMorgan Chase helped introduce FGB in 2020, which is built on Launch NY’s existing diverse startup portfolio, including 33% women- and 27% minority-led businesses. The program’s goal is to build individual company successes, while creating a community in which all individuals can be empowered to transform the local economy through scalable startups. There are currently 23 companies in the program.

For more information about Launch NY, its programs, and other entrepreneurial opportunities, visit, and follow Launch NY on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.




About Launch New York

The mission of Launch New York, Inc. (Launch NY), the only U.S. Treasury-designated Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) directly providing venture funding to businesses in New York State, is to identify, support and invest in high-growth, high-impact companies that can transform the local economy and catalyze the entrepreneurial culture in the 27 counties comprising the western half of Upstate New York. Launch NY is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit venture development organization that promotes economic development through best practices, including high-quality pro bono business mentoring, while operating the most active seed fund in New York State that provides access to seed capital as part of an array of Invest Local financing programs designed to facilitate funding for investment-ready companies which have the promise to drive significant economic impact and jobs for our region.

Launch NY is headquartered in Buffalo and has co-locations with partner organizations in Binghamton, Ithaca, Rochester and Syracuse. Since 2012, it has served over 1,197 companies, has more than two dozen experienced local entrepreneurs-in-residence and its National Mentor Network of 2,000 industry, business and investment experts. Launch NY mentored companies, including 27% women-led and 26% minority-led startups, that have created 4,338 jobs, attracted over $866 million in co-investment and follow-on capital, and generated over $115 million in annual revenues. Those funded by Launch NY starting in 2016, including 70 portfolio companies comprised of 33% women-led and 27% minority-led, have created 369 jobs, attracted over $76 million, and generated over $14 million in annual revenues. Launch NY also leads the premier Emerging Cleantech Opportunity (ECO) Incubator, one of six designated clean energy incubators sponsored by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), as well as the Founders Go Big program, an innovative diversity and inclusion initiative introduced in 2020.