Office for Civil Rights, Department of Education
June 2, 2023
OCR Complaint Filed
Missouri State University has a entrepreneurial incubator and business center called “efactory”, which together with MSU’s Small Business Development Center developed an early-stage business “boot camp” for “diverse and women-owned businesses.” The U.S. Bank Foundation awarded $30,000 to the Missouri State University Foundation to fund the program; the Missouri Scholarship & Loan Foundation, a non-profit formed by MOHELA, also provided funding. The boot camp provided an opportunity for ten “local BIPOC and women-owned businesses” to participate in a free, early-stage business training program; white male business owners were not eligible to apply.
The Spring 2023 boot camp met one day a week for eight weeks at the efactory, from February through April. The application for that year’s program stated explicitly that eligibility in the boot camp was restricted to “BIPOC or women future or current business owner[s] (recently started or in the idea phase)” who are “[l]iving in southern Missouri.”
Equal Protection Project is the Complainant in this matter, which is under evaluation by the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights.