A sponsored series spotlighting Capital One’s commitment to the community.
When Danielle Tubbs moved to Chicago after college, she spent her evenings baking desserts. The daughter of a long line of “Jamaican cake ladies,” Danielle assumed that everyone shared her skills in the kitchen, so she was surprised when friends told her she had a real talent — one that she could turn into a business.
She began selling delicious vegan cookies to friends and family, and she branded her small business “Tubby’s Taste” after her childhood nickname, Tubby. It was a side hustle and a passion project — one that she loved, but didn’t know how to turn into a sustainable enterprise.
Then a friend introduced Danielle to Chicago-based nonprofit organization Future Founders.
“Entrepreneurship is core to who we are as a company. We value new ideas; we don’t rely on doing things the way they’ve always been done. Test and learn. Take risks. It’s ingrained in our culture.”
Future Founders began in 2005 as a pilot at the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center (CEC), the nonprofit that now manages famed incubator 1871. The CEC team ran entrepreneurship programs at high schools in underserved communities around Chicago, and after six years, they were ready to turn their successful mentoring and skill development program into its own nonprofit organization. The CEC team, led by Scott Issen, and local entrepreneur Brad Keywell joined forces to take Future Founders to the next level.
One of the first partners to come alongside the newly established Future Founders organization was Capital One — which is itself a founder-led, entrepreneurially minded company.
As Leslie Hagele, Director of Community Affairs at Capital One, described, “Entrepreneurship is core to who we are as a company. We value new ideas; we don’t rely on doing things the way they’ve always been done. Test and learn. Take risks. It’s ingrained in our culture.”
Capital One helped Future Founders expand their reach, introducing collegiate programs in 2014, then developing the national Residency program to help 18-30 year-olds start and scale businesses.
It was this new Residency program that Danielle Tubbs joined in 2018. And it was here, at the first meeting, that she heard Scott Issen, President & CEO of Future Founders, say, “Who wants to quit their job in 6 months?”
Surprising even her, Danielle’s hand shot up.
As she describes, “A light went off for me. For the first time, I realized that this could be a real thing. A real job.”
Through the Residency, Danielle started selling to people outside of her personal network, launched a new website and increased her sales by 375%. In her words, “I fell in love with Future Founders and everything they do.”
And that “everything” is quite a lot.
Future Founders teaches entrepreneurship classes at local middle and high schools. They run Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) youth camps. They host pitch competitions, work with innovative 18 to 30 year-olds and run the Residency program to help aspiring entrepreneurs get their ideas off the ground. They offer a Fellowship to help growing businesses scale — and the 53 companies that have graduated the Fellowship program in the last four years have created 317 jobs.
All of these programs are designed to “help people become more confident in their own abilities and realize how resilient they are — that they belong, and they can create their own opportunity,” said Issen.
Capital One agrees. In their experience serving the community through Capital One Cafes and partnering and volunteering with Future Founders, Capital One associates have seen first-hand the power of confidence and resilience. “The skills you develop by learning entrepreneurial thinking will benefit you in any career,” Hagele said. “Some students will start their own businesses, which is super important for our economy. But even if you enter the traditional workforce, entrepreneurial thinking is a critical skillset for the future.” It’s all part of their Future Edge community initiative, which invests in opportunities to prepare people for the jobs of today and tomorrow.
“I love our partnership with Capital One because they get it,” Issen added. “They are entrepreneurs, and they value building entrepreneurial skills in others. They are willing to invest in something that hasn’t happened yet. And they are actively leveraging resources for the betterment of organizations like us.”
Those resources benefit entrepreneurs like Tubbs, who is now running Tubby’s Taste full-time. She also spends several days a week working for Future Founders — bringing her experience to middle and high schools around Chicago as an Entrepreneurship Instructor. “The things I’ve learned and the people I’ve met at Future Founders have changed my life for the better. And I hope I’m having the same effect on the students I teach. I hope they think, ‘Here’s a young, black woman, and she’s an entrepreneur. Maybe I could do that, too.’”
To learn more about Capital One’s community efforts, go to www.capitalone.com/about