Project DEEP
A university-based, multi-pronged initiative supporting women and Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) as entrepreneurs and investors to accelerate economic development.

Project DEEP (Developing Equitable Economies Program) is a multi-pronged initiative supporting female and BIPOC entrepreneurs and investors. The program aims to disrupt the entrepreneurial ecosystem status quo to support equitable wealth creation opportunities.

Through a series of six free virtual courses taught by world-class subject matter experts, Project DEEP provides accessible immersive education, resources, and community. It is designed for underrepresented entrepreneurs just starting out or ready to scale their businesses, individuals curious about impact investing or ready to change the culture of investing, and decision-makers in the wider ecosystem who can support the success of overlooked entrepreneurs. The free courses can be taken by anyone at any time and in any order.

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Courses for Entrepreneurship

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Kimmy Paluch, Entrepreneur

Demystifying Entrepreneurship with Kimmy Paluch

Kimmy Paluch, a venture capitalist, computer scientist, and experienced entrepreneur, teaches the fundamentals of entrepreneurship. She covers how to create a culture of experimentation, build a business model and team, refine your product and marketing, and strengthen your product-market fit. Kimmy emphasizes the grit and persistence underrepresented founders demonstrate and shares her own story of breaking down barriers as an entrepreneur and investor. Throughout this free entrepreneurship course, Kimmy will show you how to shortcut your learning to focus on the most pivotal aspects of building a business.

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Christina Taylor, TaylorMade Experience

Funding for Growth with Christina Taylor

Christina Taylor, the founder of TaylorMade Experience, an event management and fundraising consulting firm, teaches how to fund your business to grow. Christina learned financial literacy at a young age from her IRS-employed parents, and she has employed this skill throughout her career in event management and entrepreneurship. With people of color being more likely to report financial challenges and with women accounting for less than 5% of capital lent to small companies, this course will hopefully serve to help diverse owners access the right capital. In this entrepreneurship course, Christina will teach you foundational financial practices, your landscape of funding options, and how they can accelerate your business growth while sharing the story of her own business and that of other experts. We hope this course grants you an understanding of the funding landscape and confidence in pursuing funding for your business.

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Raquel Wilson, Peachtree Versatile Assistants

Scaling through Systems with Raquel Wilson

Raquel Wilson, founder and former CEO of Peachtree Versatile Assistants (PVA), teaches the importance of leveraging systems in building a business. As a social worker and entrepreneur focused on helping other business owners solve operational problems, Raquel has spent thousands of hours defining and removing obstacles for innovators. In this free entrepreneurship course, Raquel will share her proven strategies for identifying the need for systems in your business, categorizing your challenges, and creating strong systems through documentation, technology, and people. This course will help you identify and fix key pain points in your business and create systems to scale.

Courses for Impact Investing and Ecosystem Building

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Rose Maizner, Investor

Women Investing for Change with Rose Maizner

Investor Rose Maizner teaches the fundamentals of investing in entrepreneurs and why more women are needed in influential investing roles. As an entrepreneur and professional investor, Rose’s mission is to accelerate the success of underserved entrepreneurs by diversifying the investing landscape and equipping more women to lead out in investing. This impact investing course covers key concepts such as risk vs reward, equity vs debt, understanding diversification, and financing stages of startups. Rose also covers four distinct types of early-stage investing – crowdfunding, friends and family investing, angel investing, and fund investing – and leads conversations with women investors experienced in each of these spaces. This course will equip you with the understanding you need to get started in investing for change.

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Dr. Dell Gines, Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Building with Dell Gines

Dr. Dell Gines teaches inclusive, entrepreneurial economic development. Through close examination of the advantages of entrepreneurial ecosystem development to rural and minority communities, Dell highlights the opportunity for eliminating economic disparities and building sustainable, equitable ecosystems. You will learn how to build support and offer resources so that entrepreneurs can successfully operate within today’s shifting ecosystem in a way which promotes inclusivity and community and creates stronger, more resilient economies. Dell has spent his career working to change the disparities between white communities and communities of color through building thriving entrepreneurial ecosystems and believes that by prioritizing and investing in entrepreneurship, we can drive economic growth.

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Todd Khozein, SecondMuse

Designing Economies for People and Planet with Todd Khozein and SecondMuse

Todd Khozein, CEO and Co-Founder of SecondMuse, joins SecondMuse project leaders to discuss their efforts to mold just and inclusive economic systems. With pressing issues like climate change and gender inequality impacting communities globally, SecondMuse works to connect changemakers, power holders, and the ecosystems that surround them to innovate on new economic models. In this course, you’ll meet five different SecondMuse programs — all at different scales and in different sectors — to understand how to build values into processes and center the people closest to the challenges as experts. This course will give you practical examples and leadership paradigms on how to retool economic systems for a more equitable world.

The History of Project DEEP

Project DEEP builds on the Sorenson Impact Center’s earlier work focused on Utah’s economy, including a landscape report that identified technical assistance, funding access, and accessible education as key needs for women and BIPOC entrepreneurs in Utah. While Utah has a strong economy demonstrating persistent growth, underrepresented entrepreneurs do not enjoy equal access to Utah’s innovation opportunities.

The Center will measure the impact of this program to provide proof of concept for replication to fuel diversity in innovation across the country, leveraging data science, community engagement, innovative finance, and impact storytelling.


Read More About Project DEEP:

​​Disrupting the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Status Quo (Sorenson Impact Center)
Sorenson Impact Center Launches Video Course Series to Change the Status Quo in Entrepreneurship and Investing (Press Release)
Demystifying Entrepreneurship for Overlooked Founders: A conversation with investor and entrepreneur Kimmy Paluch (Impact Entrepreneur)
Scaling through Systems for Overlooked Founders: A conversation with entrepreneur Raquel Wilson (Impact Entrepreneur)
Funding for Growth for Underestimated Founders: A conversation with entrepreneur Christina Serrano Taylor (Impact Entrepreneur)

The Partner

Project DEEP is hosted by the Sorenson Impact Center and generously funded by the Economic Development Administration, JPMorgan Chase, and the Sorenson Impact Foundation.

The Challenge

Entrepreneurship is the lifeblood of the American economy – but right now, women, people of color, and other overlooked entrepreneurs don’t have the same access to resources for success despite being the fastest-growing segment of the entrepreneurial ecosystem. These innovators represent a world-changing opportunity for impact and equitable wealth creation, but too much isn’t working for the increasingly diverse modern entrepreneur, from a fragmented resource landscape to biased funding norms to unequal COVID-19 recovery for BIPOC-owned small businesses.

The Outcome

A new model requires recognizing the strengths of overlooked entrepreneurs and shifting the burden of change to the decision-makers in the wider ecosystem including investors, economic developers, and support organizations. Through multi-pronged solutions, we can build effective and equitable entrepreneurial ecosystems that connect women, BIPOC, and other overlooked founders to intentional investors who can support them with financial capital and decision-makers who can amplify their success. Project DEEP offers six free video courses centered around key topics in entrepreneurship, investing, and ecosystem-building. Each course is taught by world-class subject matter experts with lived experience and features a complementary course workbook. Project DEEP is also providing direct support to Utah-based entrepreneurs by working with leading community partners to offer education, coaching, and technical assistance to women and women of color entrepreneurs. Project DEEP includes an intensive focus on impact measurement and will extend lessons learned into a wider impact measurement framework that can be replicated elsewhere to drive change.

The Impact

Project DEEP aims to contribute to the wider entrepreneurial ecosystem with resources and best practices for supporting overlooked entrepreneurs — removing the systemic barriers they face and amplifying their success.