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Accelerate your business alongside other women of color entrepreneurs.

Applications are closed

We are no longer accepting applications for the 2021 program but please sign up for our mailing list to get information about future cohorts.

Reflect. Recover. Rebuild.

Women of color entrepreneurs face unique challenges, from raising capital to external biases affecting day-to-day operations. As an expansion of Wacif's award-winning Ascend Capital Accelerator program, Ascend.Her is dedicated to serving women of color entrepreneurs through a holistic, multi-week program. Our hands-on approach consists of interactive workshops, one-on-one consultations with experts, and individualized support. Ultimately, our goal is to support the growth and long-term success of women entrepreneurs of color in the Greater Washington, D.C. region, including the surrounding counties in Maryland and Virginia.

This year's Ascend.Her Capital Accelerator's cohort, the Phoenix Cohort, is designed to help women of color entrepreneurs rise from the ashes of the COVID-19 pandemic, and build resilient businesses that can withstand disruptions now and in the future. Together, we will take a much-needed moment to pause and reflect on our experiences as entrepreneurs to date, while planning for what comes next. The Phoenix Cohort will include up to fifteen (15) local small businesses owned by women of color entrepreneurs from the Greater Washington, D.C. region.

The focus areas of the Phoenix Cohort include:

    • Developing a resilient mindset
    • Marketing and customer relationship building
    • Financial and management training
    • Risk mitigation
    • Accessing affordable loan capital


Apply | Frequently Asked Questions


Phoenix Cohort 2021

Members can expect:

    • Weekly classes over the course of eight weeks
    • Individualized, vetted growth plan and opportunity to work with Wacif small business advisers
    • Optional expert "open hours" based on what cohort participants need the most (i.e. One-on-one meetings with bankers, legal experts, branding experts, etc.)
    • Final "capstone" presentation
    • Eligibility for Wacif grant and debt capital
    • 12-months of continued accountability and engagement opportunities
    • Networking opportunities with other cohort members and alumni of past Ascend Accelerators
    • Pre-program launch event and graduation celebration

Members are expected to:

  • Commit up to 10 hours per week during the cohort period for workshops, assignments, out of class reading, and technical assistance meetings
  • Attend all sessions and complete all required assignments
  • Create a 12-month revenue and sales growth plan
  • Track monthly sales and revenue goals
  • Continue engagement with advisors and cohort participants throughout the 12-month accountability period
  • Attend networking activities outside of classroom sessions

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Applications Are Now Closed

We are no longer accepting applications for the 2021 program but please sign up for our mailing list to get information about future cohorts.

Information Session (08.09.21 Recording)

All prospective applicants are encouraged to watch the information session that took place on August 9, 2021, to help prepare your application. The information session covered the following:

  • An overview of Wacif's Ascend Capital Accelerator program, and this year's Ascend.Her Phoenix Cohort
  • A review of the application and evaluation process
  • Open discussion and Q&A session

Watch the 2021 Ascend.Her Information Session on Youtube.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

The number of businesses participating in this Ascend cohort will depend on applicant volume and suitability. To ensure the maximum level of learning and engagement and to facilitate community building, the cohort size will not exceed 15 businesses.

Yes. Ascend.Her: Phoenix Cohort is intended for women of color business owners located in the Washington D.C. area. Subsequent cohorts of Wacif's Ascend Capital Accelerators will be open to other applicants at a later date. Until then, Wacif's advisory services are available to all entrepreneurs. Learn more by visiting, schedule a one-on-one consultation, or attend an upcoming workshop.

The program is best suited for entrepreneurs whose businesses have a revenue-generating track record, with a minimum annual revenue of $50,000. Entrepreneurs whose businesses don't fit these parameters may be considered on a case-by-case basis. Applicants will also be evaluated on their sales growth trends and existing pipeline of projects and contracts.

We want to ensure participants can take advantage of all the workshops and learning opportunities offered throughout the program. While we expect participants may not be able to attend every workshop and activity due to scheduling, work, and life occurrences, wherever possible, absences are limited to one (1) session. If you are likely to be absent for more than one session, please consider applying at a time better suited to your schedule.

Currently, some Ascend.Her: Phoenix Cohort workshops and social events are expected to be in-person. However, as part of the application, Wacif will survey participants' level of comfort is with in-person activity and participant feedback will help guide Wacif's decision-making.

Throughout the cohort, Wacif will closely follow any updated COVID-19 related guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and the District of Columbia Department of Health.

The principal office of the business must be in Washington, D.C., Prince George's County (MD), Montgomery County (MD), Howard County (MD), Arlington County (VA), or Alexandria (VA).

No, the Ascend Capital Accelerator is not solely for businesses interested or actively engaged in government procurement. The Ascend Capital Accelerator enables local entrepreneurs to maximize their ability to grow and access and obtain capital.

Applicants accepted into the program will be informed no later than September 20th.

Applicants will be reviewed holistically based on (1) the business; (2) the business' management; (3) financial position; (4) growth plans; (5) attainment of (or ability to attain) local and/or federal certification; (6) expressed small business and/or market challenges; and (7) ability to increase revenue and profitability. Significant attention will be given to the applicant's desire to participate in the Accelerator's goals during the program and post-completion.

Our team will also assess the scalability of the prospective company. The key criteria determining scalability is the ability of the business to increase revenue by 50 to 75 percent within three years. A strong preference will be given to businesses that are committed to creating living wage jobs and employment opportunities for residents of the D.C.-region.

Please email our team at with any other questions related to your application.