Entrepreneur Academy

Locations Duration Next Application
16 months 07/28/2023
Apply Now


Our Entrepreneur Academy is a 16-month entrepreneurship certificate program that supports creative and social entrepreneurs in developing plans, improving operations, accessing capital, and strengthening leadership capabilities to build thriving, resilient businesses.

What You Will Learn

Through the Entrepreneur Academy, you will gain the education, tools, and resources to:

  • Develop your business plan and financial forecast in alignment with your mission and values;
  • Create and improve marketing, sales, operations, and financial management of your business;
  • Learn to pitch your business in any setting;
  • Apply for funding to implement your business plans; and
  • Prepare to hire and lead a team.

Below are the courses included in the Entrepreneur Academy.

Learn more about the courses you will take in our Entrepreneur Academy.

Plan Your Business

Grow Your Business

Fund Your Business

Lead Your Business

Commit to Building Your Business

Average time commitment for our Entrepreneur Academy course work is 15-20 hours / week dedicated to building your business.


Weekly Activity Weekly Time Commitment
Background Materials
  • Series of required background readings and videos on each unit to be completed online prior to the weekly workshop sessions
  • Describes concepts and their applications in developing a business

12-week Courses: 1-2 hours / week

6-week Courses : 1-2 hours / week

Total: 2-4 hours / week

  • Weekly virtual workshop sessions led by an expert instructor
  • Lecture and discussion on background materials, group activities, and reflection

12-week Courses: 3 hours / week

6-week Courses : 2 hours / week

Total: 5 hours / week

Business Development Activities
  • Weekly activities focused on your business development
  • Apply concepts learned in background materials and workshops

12-week Courses: 3-4 hours / week

6-week Courses : 3-4 hours / week

Total: 6-8 hours / week

Peer Mentoring
  • Weekly video conference meeting with small peer group of other entrepreneurs in your cohort
  • Present weekly business development activities and receive constructive feedback from peers

12-week Courses: 1 hour / week

6-week Courses: 1 hour / week

Total: 2 hours / week

One-on-One Mentoring
  • Weekly video conference meeting with your mentor
  • Discuss business progress, review weekly business development activity, and connect with resources to meet business needs

12-week Courses: 30 minutes / week

6-week Courses: N/A

Total: 30 minutes / week

Entrepreneur Assessment

Building a business is a process of continuous improvement. As business owners, you receive feedback from customers, employees, and partners on regular basis through informal conversations and more formal surveys and other tools. And, you use that feedback to refine your business strategy.

The courses in the Entrepreneur Academy also provide you with regular feedback to develop and implement your business strategy and plans, improve your operations and financial management, apply for funding, and build a team. You will receive informal feedback from mentors and peers on your weekly business development activities. In addition, you will receive more formal feedback through progress reports designed to provide you with documented feedback on your business and personal development and next steps for your business at regular intervals throughout each course

Completion Requirements

In order to complete the Entrepreneur Academy and receive a Certificate of Completion, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Comply with the attendance policy;
  • Submit all required activities for completion of each course in the program; and
  • Meet all financial obligations to Uptima Entrepreneur Cooperative.

A Certificate of Completion will be issued to each entrepreneur who has successfully completed the program within thirty (30) days of the end of the program.

Who is Eligible?

We select up to 8 businesses per location to participate in our Entrepreneur Academy in each enrollment period.

Selection Criteria

  • Founded, own a majority stake, and manage the day-to-day operations of a creative or social enterprise
  • Have experience in the industry in which you started your creative or social enterprise
  • Are growing a small business, small non-profit, or cooperative with the potential for employing others in the community
  • Business has the potential for meaningful positive social, environmental, and/or economic impact in your local community
  • Business has an online presence through a website and social media
  • Business has generated sales between $5,000 to $50,000 over the last year
  • Business has not received more than $10,000 of outside funding (e.g., pitch competitions, crowdfunding, loans, equity)
  • Current resident of the Boston, Chicago, or Oakland / East Bay Metro Areas
  • At least 18 years or older as of the application deadline or if under 18, have legal guardian consent
  • At least intermediate level English language skills
  • Able to commit up to 20 hours per week to building your business

Admissions Process

To be considered for the Entrepreneur Academy, you must apply online. After each application deadline, our local selection teams will review all applications for the Entrepreneur Academy and select the top applicants for interviews.

Based on interviews, our local selection teams will select up to 8 businesses per location to participate in the Entrepreneur Academy. We will notify all applicants of our selection decisions at least one week prior to the start date of each enrollment period.

Join Entrepreneur Academy

Our Entrepreneur Academy is offered during the following times.



Enrollment Period Program Dates Application Deadline
Winter 2023 February 2023 - June 2024 December 9, 2022
Spring / Summer 2023 June 2023 - October 2024 April 14, 2023
Fall 2023 September 2023 - December 2024 July 28, 2023


Enrollment Period Program Dates Application Deadline
Winter 2023 February 2023 - June 2024 December 9, 2022
Spring / Summer 2023 June 2023 - October 2024 April 14, 2023
Fall 2023 September 2023 - December 2024 July 28, 2023


Enrollment Period Program Dates Application Deadline
Winter 2022 February 2022 - May 2023 December 10, 2021
Winter 2023 February 2023 - June 2024 December 9, 2022
Spring / Summer 2023 June 2023 - October 2024 April 14, 2023

How Much It Costs

The cost of the Entrepreneur Academy is $20,050 which consists of a one-time $50 non-refundable registration fee and program fees of $20,000.

Given the current economic circumstances, we are providing entrepreneurs with a subsidized cost on the program fee, which will be determined based on household income, as well as a payment plan over the 16-month enrollment period. Below are the monthly program fees based on household income levels.

< $35,000 HOUSEHOLD INCOME$35,000 – $50,000 HOUSEHOLD INCOME$50,000 – $100,000 HOUSEHOLD INCOME > $100,000 HOUSEHOLD INCOME
Monthly Program Fee$25.00 / month$50.00 / month$200.00 / month$400.00 / month

Below are the total program fees for Entrepreneur Academy over the 16-month enrollment period based on household income levels.

< $35,000 HOUSEHOLD INCOME$35,000 – $50,000 HOUSEHOLD INCOME$50,000 – $100,000 HOUSEHOLD INCOME> $100,000 HOUSEHOLD INCOME
Registration Fee$50.00$50.00$50.00$50.00
Program Fees$400.00$800.00$3,200.00$6,400.00
Total Fees$450.00$850.00$3,250.00$6,450.00

In addition as a business owner, you will need to invest in the basic costs of growing your business. You should be prepared to pay these basic costs of doing business on your own. These costs are estimated at $100-$200 per month for subscriptions to maintain your website, QuickBooks accounting system, file management system, office technology, and phone / video conferencing.


Do I have to be a resident in one of those metropolitan areas (Boston, Chicago, or Oakland / East Bay metropolitan areas) to apply?

We are committed to supporting the local economies where we run our programs. As such, you must be a resident in a metropolitan area where we have a location, either Boston, Chicago, or Oakland / East Bay metropolitan areas.

What is the value of the Entrepreneur Academy?

The full value of our Entrepreneur Academy is $20,000. Given the current economic situation, we are subsidizing the majority of the cost of the Entrepreneur Academy for all entrepreneurs of color. By completing the Entrepreneur Academy, you will have the knowledge, tools, and network necessary to grow your creative or social enterprise.

What kind of businesses are you looking for?

We encourage those who are passionate about creating sustainable impact in their community to apply. Some of the entrepreneurs we have worked with in the past include, but are not limited to, those in arts and culture, health and wellness, food and beverage, retail and eCommerce, manufacturing, and services industries.

What kind of positive social, environmental, and economic impact are you looking for?

We are looking for entrepreneurs who believe in advancing principles, processes, and practices that build economic and political power to shift from an extractive economy to a regenerative economy. This includes business concepts that provide for cultural expression, create good jobs, advance worker ownership and democracy, utilize sustainable production methods, shift to zero waste, among other practices.

What happens after I complete the Entrepreneur Academy?

As an Entrepreneur Academy graduate, you may be eligible to apply for and receive funding and ongoing support for your business through our partnerships with mission-aligned funders, RUNWAY and The REAL People’s Fund. Our partnerships with RUNWAY and The REAL People’s Fund provide friendly, restorative capital and continued business support and community to grow your business in alignment with your values.

Are Entrepreneur Academy entrepreneurs eligible to become member-owners of Uptima?

All Uptima entrepreneurs who complete a certain level of our programs and are in good standing on their program fees are eligible to become member-owners of Uptima Entrepreneur Cooperative. Entrepreneurs who are interested in becoming member-owners will need to go through the membership process.

What does it mean to be a member-owner of Uptima?

Becoming a member of Uptima Entrepreneur Cooperative means you become a part of a cooperative community that invests in each other, shares in our profits, and has a say in how we are run.

Own Your Future