UChicago Local’s partnership with Sunshine Enterprises will help increase Sunshine’s reach to 100 businesses in the first year and 200 by 2016. It will also help better connect businesses to resources within the University.

On April 29, 2015, the University of Chicago announced that it is expanding its UChicago Local initiative to include a partnership with Sunshine Enterprises, which provides business education and coaching specifically tailored to small, neighborhood-based entrepreneurs.

Woodlawn-based Sunshine Gospel Ministries established Sunshine Enterprises in 2012. The program’s Community Business Academy offers a 12-week course on the basic mechanics of running a business, and its Business Accelerator Services provide coaching and specialized workshops. Since the program began, 50 South Side businesses have completed the Community Business Academy, and another 30 have accessed the Business Accelerator Services.

“Most often, we’re working with neighborhood residents who are experimenting with business ideas that could be as simple as watching children, doing hair, painting murals, or planning parties,” said Joel Hamernick, Executive Director of Sunshine Gospel Ministries. “We help those businesses where they are and aim to help them grow in the hopes that one day they will be able to engage with a large institution like the University of Chicago.”

UChicago Local, launched in March 2014, supports mid-South Side businesses and job seekers looking to work with the University or University of Chicago Medicine. The new partnership will help Sunshine Enterprises increase its reach to as many as 100 businesses in the first year and 200 by 2016. It will also help better connect the businesses Sunshine Enterprises serves to resources within the University, including the Chicago Innovation Exchange, Chicago Booth’s Social Enterprise Initiative, and the Institute for Justice Clinic on Entrepreneurship at the Law School.

“The University is pursuing creative ways that we can have a positive impact on the communities and neighborhoods around us,” said Derek Douglas, the University’s Vice President for Civic Engagement. “Working with new partners like Sunshine Enterprises will allow us to support even more local business owners, including those whose size or focus might not match our buying needs.”

The Community Business Academy/Business Accelerator Services model that Sunshine uses was pioneered by Rising Tide Capital in Jersey City, N.J., whose Community Business Academy has graduated more than 1,000 entrepreneurs from its since 2004. In 2009, after President Barack Obama praised Rising Tide Capital for changing lives, boosting livelihoods, and helping to bring struggling communities back to life, the nonprofit organization determined it would seek partners in other cities to replicate its model. Rising Tide Capital’s first national replication is with Sunshine Enterprises.

To learn more about other UChicago Local partnerships and opportunities for mid-South Side businesses and job seekers, visit local.uchicago.edu.