Basic Information

What is the name of your organization?

Kentucky Chamber Foundation, Inc.

Is your organization registered as 501(c)(3) status with the IRS?


In what city, town, or region and state is your organization headquartered?

Frankfort, KY, USA

Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address? [Select up to 2]

  • Business development & procurement: Connecting small business owners to vendors, suppliers, and networks that will transform their ability to do business.
  • Data and impact: Capturing, synthesizing, optimizing, and/or displaying data for business intelligence, impact evaluation, and/or improved decision making for resource allocation.

What is the name of your solution?

Kentucky Minority Contracting and Procurement Portal

What is your solution?

According to the Minority Business Development Agency’s Review of Existing Disparity Studies, the most frequently cited contracting barriers that minority business owners face includes exclusionary networks, late bid notification, and marketplace discrimination. To help make the playing field more equitable, the Kentucky Chamber Foundation’s (the Foundation) Center for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (the Center for DE&I), in partnership with the 7PM Group, will create the first-ever statewide Minority Contracting and Procurement Portal. This portal will act as a one-stop shop where certified women- and minority-owned businesses can apply for bids and contracting opportunities across the state. Businesses will also use this site to post and solicit different projects helping them to meet supplier diversity mandates and diversify their own supply chains. Overall, this platform will transform the ability of minority-owned businesses to do business.

The Minority Contracting and Procurement Portal will be able to track:

  • How many people submit interest in a project
  • How many minority women-owned business enterprises (MWBEs) bid on a project
  • How many MWBEs win a contract
  • Total amount of MWBE spent per project
  • What areas are MWBEs getting the most traction (and what areas they are not)
  • Where the interest is coming from
  • Demographics of contractors
  • Demographics of projects
  • The ability to track the certification types of the MWBEs

Film your elevator pitch.

Describe the core technology that powers your solution.

The Kentucky Chamber Foundation’s Center for DE&I is looking to be the first state in the country to aggregate the resources across platforms and institutions to elevate the equity status for minority, women, and veteran companies.  This website will create a social equity platform, the Minority Contractor Exchange (MCE), supported by the Chamber, that utilizes functionally integrated platforms and A.I. to provide an unmatched level of services, accessibility, and connectivity. 

MCE offers a “marketplace” where opportunities for workforce, contractors, projects, and suppliers can all be found and engage in trade.  It also incorporates the “SCORE,” a tool similar to a credit score for diversity and inclusion.  The SCORE will add value to DE&I, making inclusion more than just a feel-good score. MCE Mission is a unique workforce equity tool that creates a career map and support for individuals, as well as a pipeline for businesses and institutions looking for the next wave of talent.  This partnership also has a concierge component, a virtual assistant that uses artificial intelligence to conversationally complete administrative tasks and search/analyze data in real-time. This will have a major impact as it relates to DE&I.  As the Center for DE&I reviews the data in real-time, we will be better able to identify and provide recommendations for disparities based on the collective data from multiple sources.

A small business owner using their mobile phone or computer can use this tool to write email responses, search databases, make lists, analyze data, solve complex computations, etc., in the same way they would task an administrative assistant or researcher.  On a state-wide level, working with a minority firm, this tool will significantly reduce the issues of connectivity and access for small and minority businesses, hoping to catalyze social and cultural change in the process.

Which of the following categories best describes your solution?

A new business model or process that relies on technology to be successful

Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:

  • Big Data
  • Crowd Sourced Service / Social Networks
  • Software and Mobile Applications

Who does your solution serve, including demographics, and how does the solution impact their lives?

The Kentucky Minority Contracting and Procurement Portal will directly serve Kentucky’s underrepresented minority population and the business community at large.  Only 7.7% of Kentucky businesses are minority-owned (2022), falling well short of 12.5% of the state’s underrepresented minority population. Since establishing the Center for DE&I, a common theme gathered from minority business owners are anecdotal accounts of receiving more business outside of the state of Kentucky than they do within it. Now that the Foundation’s Center for DE&I has launched the Minority-Owned Business Database, solving the issue of businesses not being able to locate minority-owned businesses, the Center for DE&I is closing the loop with this platform that will bring business opportunities to the doorstep of our underrepresented business owners.

After the Minority Contracting and Procurement Portal is launched, the Center for DE&I can reach out to all of the different minority business communities to extend our partnership. These communities include Buy Black Lou, Black Market Kentucky, Black Owned Louisville, the Lexington Black Business Guide, the Noir Black Chamber of Commerce, the Louisville Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Louisville chapter of the National Puerto Rican Chamber, and the Kentuckiana Hispanic Business Council.

The Foundation has a track record of engaging minority-owned businesses through our “Shop Conscious” initiative, a program where on a quarterly basis, the Center for DE&I hosts a workshop connecting minority-owned businesses to resources and helping them to get certified in Kentucky. Each “Shop Conscious” event is held in a different county across the state in partnership with one of the state certifiers (the Transportation Cabinet, Finance and Revenue Cabinet, or Louisville’s Human Relations Commission). With the establishment of the Minority Contracting and Procurement Portal, we can add it to the resource we present during this program.

Overall, the Minority Contracting and Procurement Portal will direct more revenue back into the hands of the minority business community.

Explain how the problem you are addressing, the solution you have designed, and the population you are serving align with the Challenge.

The Kentucky Minority Contracting and Procurement Portal will connect small business owners, specifically minority-owned businesses, to other businesses across the state. It will boost the exposure of minority-owned businesses, thereby making them more accessible and easier to find for organizations looking to diversify their supplier chain. It will also bring more business to the minority-owned business community by centralizing contract, bid, and procurement opportunities all in one place. These are opportunities many of them will not have had access to previously due to exclusion from different business networks and social circles.

This initiative aligns with the challenge because it connects small business owners to vendors, suppliers, and networks to transform their ability to do business and will capture, synthesize, optimize, and display data for business intelligence, impact evaluation, and improved decision-making for resource allocation when it comes to women and minority-owned businesses. These fall under two of the six priorities that the Inspire Awards are looking to fund. The purpose of the Minority Contracting and Procurement Portal directly reflects the business development and procurement priority. The data and impact priority will be captured on the back end of the platform through our ability to track:

  • How many MWBEs bid on a project
  • How many MWBEs win a contract
  • Total amount of MWBE spent per project
  • Areas MWBEs receive the most traction (and what areas they are not)
  • Where the interest is coming from
  • Demographics of contractors
  • Demographics of projects
  • Certification types of the MWBEs

What is your theory of change?

Our solution, the Minority Contracting and Procurement Portal, aims to have a significant impact on the problem of limited opportunities for minority-owned businesses. The Center for DE&I expects our solution to create positive changes by connecting minority-owned businesses with larger enterprises interested in diversifying their suppliers.

Through the Center for DE&I activities, which involve centralizing opportunities and creating a platform for minority-owned businesses to showcase their products and services, we aim to achieve immediate outputs. These outputs include the availability of a comprehensive database of minority-owned businesses and increased awareness among larger enterprises about the benefits of supplier diversity.

In the longer term, the Center for DE&I anticipates achieving two main outcomes for our target population. Firstly, the Center for DE&I aims to increase contracting and procurement opportunities for minority-owned businesses. By connecting them with larger enterprises, we can create a more level playing field and enhance their economic empowerment. This outcome will lead to tangible benefits, such as increased revenue and growth for minority-owned businesses.

Secondly, the Center for DE&I aims to foster diversity and inclusion in supply chains. By encouraging larger enterprises to actively engage with minority-owned businesses and diversify their suppliers, we can tap into a wider range of expertise and perspectives. This outcome promotes innovation, competitiveness, and overall business success for the larger enterprises while creating a more inclusive economy and breaking down barriers faced by minority-owned businesses.

To support the existence and strength of these links between our activities, outputs, and outcomes, we rely on various forms of evidence. This includes third-party research on the benefits of supplier diversity, findings from pilot programs or impact evaluations, and data from interviews or surveys conducted with our target population. This evidence reinforces the effectiveness and viability of our approach.

In summary, the Foundation expects the Minority Contracting and Procurement Portal to have a positive impact on the problem by connecting minority-owned businesses with larger enterprises. This will lead to increased opportunities, economic empowerment, and diversity in supply chains. Through our activities, outputs, and outcomes, we aim to create a more inclusive and equitable business environment.


What is your solution’s stage of development?

Pilot: a product, service, or business model that is in the process of being built and tested with a small number of beneficiaries or working to gain traction.

What is your organization’s stage of development?

Growth: A registered 501(c)(3) organization with an established product, service, or business model rolled out in one or, ideally, several communities, which is poised for further growth and has a proven track record with an annual operating budget
More About Your Solution

How many small businesses does your solution currently serve?

Currently, the combined total number of businesses that are certified as disadvantaged business enterprises, minority-owned business enterprises (MBE), or minority women-owned business enterprises (MWBE) from the three certification granting entities in Kentucky is 1,098 businesses. Noncertified minority-owned businesses will also be able to participate, which could potentially triple the number of minority-owned businesses involved. On the other hand, according to the 2021 census, there are 92,130 employer-owned establishments in Kentucky, which reflects the number of potential businesses that can post opportunities to this platform that reside in the state alone. 

The Chamber partners with Bringing in The Green LLC, a strategic marketing firm that will help the Center for DE&I run targeted campaigns that best fit the needs of this initiative, in addition to our MBE partner, the 7PM Group.

How do you define the community you serve, and who are its stakeholders?

Through the different certifying entities, we will use for the Kentucky Minority Business Database, minority-owned businesses require that the businesses are 51% or more minority-owned and operated.

We serve the business community of Kentucky. The Kentucky Chamber represents 3,800 member businesses – from family-owned shops to Fortune 500 companies – that employ over half of the Commonwealth's workforce.

The Kentucky Chamber Foundation's powerful grassroots network, through a partnership with more than 80 local chambers in the state, consists of 25,000 professionals. The Center for DE&I has the potential to impact access for minority-owned businesses to this strong network, which opens opportunities while also encouraging a business-led approach to supply chain diversification.

Organizational strategy is influenced by the Center for DE&I’s Task Force, the Kentucky Chamber Foundation’s Board, and the Kentucky Chamber Board. The members on these boards are a combination of business, civic, and education leaders from across the Commonwealth.

How do you build trust within the community your organization serves and among small business owners?

The Kentucky Chamber, as the Commonwealth's largest business association, plays a vital role in representing the business interests of 80,000 Kentucky businesses. With a statewide presence and the support of over 80 local chambers of commerce, the Foundation serves as a natural convener. By engaging leaders in the private, public, education, health, philanthropic, and other communities, the Foundation combines private sector innovation with philanthropic mission.

With a key focus on addressing racial equity, the Chamber convened leaders from diverse backgrounds in 2021, resulting in the publication of the report "Achieving Equity to Build a Stronger Kentucky." This comprehensive report provides statistical insights and recommendations to combat racial disparities in education equity, economic empowerment, and criminal justice. It serves as a guiding document for the Center for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

With its professional communications capabilities, the Chamber is able to efficiently and effectively launch campaigns to support its initiatives.

What are your impact goals for the current year and the next five years and how will you achieve them?

The impact goals of the Kentucky Chamber Foundation’s Center for DE&I are focused on addressing racial inequity and implementing positive business practices to combat systemic racism in Kentucky. In the current year, the Foundation and the Center for DE&I have successfully launched the Kentucky Minority-Owned Business Database, fostered supplier diversity, and provided support to minority-owned businesses. The "Shop Conscious" events educate and encourage businesses to obtain certification as minority-owned businesses, connecting them with valuable resources. Additionally, the DE&I Academy trains business leaders on DE&I concepts, fostering the creation of inclusive cultures within organizations.

Over the next five years, the Center for DE&I seeks to achieve lasting impact by building trust, expanding networks, and promoting equitable practices across Kentucky. Collaboration between various sectors, including the private, public, education, health, philanthropic, and community sectors, will be fostered to address racial inequities comprehensively. The ultimate goal is to establish an inclusive and equitable environment where businesses, individuals, and communities can thrive.

As one of the pioneering chambers of commerce with a dedicated DE&I center, the Center for DE&I has already achieved significant milestones in its first year. To ensure the sustainability of these efforts, grant funding is crucial. Continued support will enable the Center for DE&I to serve as a national role model, showcasing effective strategies for tackling racial inequity and promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in business practices.

Partnership & Award Funding Opportunities

Why are you applying to Truist Foundation Inspire Awards?

Partnering with the Truist Foundation and MIT Solve will help to sustain the contracting and Procurement Portal beyond its first year of being established. The funding will cover ongoing maintenance costs and additional staffing to do the work. Our initiative directly aligns with the Truist Foundation's pillars on equity and those of this Inspire Awards challenge.

In which of the following areas do you most need partners or support?

  • Financial (e.g. improving accounting practices, pitching to investors)

Please explain in more detail here.

We recognize the importance of fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion within the business community. However, we understand that businesses have diverse priorities and face various challenges in allocating resources. We strive to overcome these obstacles and ensure that DE&I remains a top priority for businesses in Kentucky.

Unlike many other states, Kentucky does not have mandated requirements or set-aside programs for minority spending. Our unique program to increase minority spending is the first of its kind in the state. Building on the success of our Minority Business Database, we have a strong audience, broad reach, and the capability to successfully launch the procurement portal. However, additional resources would be highly beneficial to ensure its long-term sustainability and expansion.

We are committed to working with businesses to overcome these challenges and foster a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Your guidance and support in establishing self-sustainability for our initiatives will help solidify them as a lasting force for positive change in Kentucky. We believe that collectively investing in DE&I can create a more inclusive business environment that benefits everyone.

Solution Team

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