Albers Foundry/RAMP-Up, under the leadership of Assistant Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion O. David Jackson, is one of three anchor institutions to support the Liberty Project, the City of Seattle's newest business growth program. It focuses on increasing revenues for businesses owned by underrepresented communities in the city, particularly Black-owned businesses.

Albers will be providing strategy development for Liberty Project programs. "It's yet another significant step in creating and expanding opportunities for minority-owned businesses at a time when they are most needed," said Albers Dean Joseph Phillips at the launch on June 1st with Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell.

The other anchor institutions are the University of Washington (UW) Consulting and Business Development Center and Tabor 100. To learn more about the Liberty Project, visit the City of Seattle’s news page.

About RAMP-Up

Business driven, campus inspired, and community engaged, RAMP-up is a unique, experiential learning environment that brings together minds and hearts on campus and beyond to work with underserved local businesses in Seattle’s Central Area and surrounding neighborhoods. RAMP-up offers business coaching, resource connections, business planning and other technical support, and project management assistance to businesses for one or more years so they can augment their own capacity to remain, grow, and thrive in the neighborhood. 

How the Liberty Project Will Work

The following is taken from the City of Seattle's press release from the launch:

Building on the work of these anchor institutions and deepening their collaboration with the City, the Liberty Project is powered by an M3 model – providing services to Seattle businesses aimed at (1) improving their management capacity and (2) growing access to money through loans and investments, which will lead to (3) increased access to markets thorough corporate and government contracting opportunities and access to new consumers in downtown Seattle and throughout the region. 

The program offers a wide array of services, including business consulting and strategy services, finance and accounting services (including loan application assistance), marketing services, technology services (such as website development and equipment assessments/upgrades), and contract bid preparation. Limited legal support will be provided through Communities Rise and local minority Bar associations. The new initiative will annually serve a minimum of 30 Black-owned businesses from the retail, personal services, commercial construction, food and beverage manufacturing, restaurant, and power utilities contract industries. These six industries were chosen due to their high concentration of Black-owned businesses and significant market demand for their services. 

Additionally, as part of Mayor Harrell’s Downtown Activation Plan, the Liberty Project will partner with the Office of Economic Development’s Seattle Restored program to assist restaurant, personal service, and retail businesses with downtown Seattle site locations. 

The Liberty Project will start accepting applications from local businesses later this summer through an online portal managed by Tabor 100. Interested businesses must meet the following criteria: 

  • Operate in one of the six prioritized industries. 
  • Have a minimum of three paid employees, including the business owner, and demonstrate prior success in increasing the number of employees. 
  • Provide financial statements showing profitability in the preceding two years. 
  • Demonstrate a track record of successful revenue growth in financial statements. 

While the project’s initial focus will be on Black-owned businesses that meet the stated criteria, applications from businesses owned by other demographic groups, industries, size, or earned revenue will also be considered. Selected businesses will participate in the program for one year and, upon completion, become part of an alumni network offering ongoing technical assistance and support for continued business and revenue growth.