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Chicago Urban League Opens Application for 2023 nextONE Program

The Chicago Urban League is starting the new year poised to help entrepreneurs through the 2023 nextONE program. Black small business owners committed to growing their enterprises and continuing to make a meaningful impression in Chicago communities are encouraged to apply through Friday, January 27, 2023 at

As one of the League’s signature programs with the Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation, nextONE is an in-depth MBA-level business accelerator program intended for Black entrepreneurs who are focused on growing and scaling their established business. The program offers training, business support services, exposure to industry leaders to address access to capital, peer-to-peer networking opportunities, and more.

“We are excited to kick off 2023 providing Black small business owners with the tools needed to grow their enterprises with the nextONE program,” said Chicago Urban League President and CEO Karen Freeman-Wilson. “Growing an established business and getting to the next level can be challenging due to limited resources, but with the nextONE program, we aim to provide Black entrepreneurs with the necessary resources and support to elevate their business. We are proud to say this program has aided in the continued success of some of the businesses we all know and love in our communities.”

The 2023 nextONE cohort will include up to 15 business owners for the nine-month program, which will begin in at the end of February. To be considered for the program, applicants must be the primary owner and/or co-owner (owning at least 51% of the business) and the key decision maker of a business that generally meets the following criteria:

  • Business revenues between $250,000 and $4 million in the most recent fiscal year
  • At least two employees (including the business owner)
  • Business in operation for at least two years
  • Have financial documents including business tax returns, income statements and balance sheets
  • The potential and desire to grow and create jobs in the community

Interested business owners must apply by 5:00 p.m. CST, Friday, January 27, 2023. An information session will be held on Tuesday, January 17, 2023 at 10:00 a.m. CST. To apply for the program and register for the information session, visit Finalist interviews will take place beginning the last week in January.

No costs are associated with the 2023 program thanks to the support and generosity from funding partners including Boeing, Polk Foundation, AT&T, and Target. The Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation at the University of Chicago will serve as an academic partner in the program. Advisory partners include 1871, Hyatt Corporation, ITW, and mHUB.

The nextONE program was initially launched in 2007 and relaunched in spring 2021 after a 10-year hiatus. Since its initial launch, more than 60 business owners have completed the program. The 2022 cohort participants included 10 Black-owned businesses, including Stitch Me Apparel whose owner Brenda Nelson won the grand prize during the final pitch competition during the spring graduation.

To learn more about Chicago Urban League programs, visit