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General Guidelines

Springboard is an innovative rapid prize competition to incentivize a new wave of participants, energy, and entrepreneurial activity and strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Buffalo, Rochester and Southern Tier regions. It supports events, initiatives, and programs that connect entrepreneurs with resources, information, and other organizations. It supports diverse populations, addresses unmet needs of existing entrepreneurs, creates storytelling opportunities, and generates positive momentum and goodwill across the broader ecosystem.

Eligible Applicants

Applicants must have an Employee Identification Number (EIN) and be located in Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Monroe, Niagara, Orleans or Wyoming county to apply. Eligible types of applicants include:

  • Non-profit or for-profit entrepreneur support organizations;
  • Local high schools, colleges, and universities who have programs that support up-and-coming entrepreneurs;
  • Capital providers including seed-stage funders, angel groups, venture capital funds, and CDFIs;
  • Any service provider that supports entrepreneurs;
  • Organizations supporting diverse ownership or entrepreneurs from disadvantaged communities;
  • Innovative businesses with less than $2,000,000 in gross revenue;
  • Entrepreneurs with an existing company including sole proprietorships

Eligible Activities

Eligible activities benefit entrepreneurs or promote new small business growth in Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Monroe, Niagara, Orleans and/or Wyoming counties and may include, but are not limited to:

  • Funding to support pilot programs or new initiatives that are focused on entrepreneurship entrepreneurial support, entrepreneurial education, or entrepreneurial ecosystem building, including fellowships;
  • Networking, mentoring, advising, information sharing, and match-making activities or events;
  • Entrepreneurship competitions, demo days, hackathons, startup weekends, etc.;
  • Events organized on a specific entrepreneurship theme or to support a target demographic; and
  • Innovation by equipment, process, and/or capacity to help facilitate growth of many other companies especially with diverse ownership and/or located in a disadvantaged community.

Springboard Does Not Fund

  • Long-term events or engagements that require ongoing funding;
  • Funding for organizational overhead costs;
  • Government entities (municipalities, counties, state);
  • Businesses with gross revenue greater than $2,000,000; and
  • Programs that only benefit entrepreneurs outside of Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Monroe, Niagara, Orleans or Wyoming counties.


Contact for assistance.

See our FAQs >

Deadlines to Apply and Award Announcements

There are three rounds of awards. Online applications must be submitted by and mailed in applications must be postmarked by the following due dates.

Round I – due April 26, 2024 by 11:59 pm (awards announced in June 24, 2024)
Round II – due June 21, 2024 by 11:59 pm  (awards announced in August)
Round III – due August 23, 2024 by 11:59 pm (awards announced in October)

How to Apply

Applications can be submitted online or

By mail to:
Attn: Springboard Team
Riveter Design
166 Chandler St., Ste 402
Buffalo, NY 14207

Download the PDF form >

Questions or technical difficulties can be sent to for assistance.

By submitting an application, the applicant confirms it has reviewed and agrees to Springboard Terms and Conditions.

Review Process

Submitted applications will be reviewed by a judging committee based on the following criteria:


  • Is the product or service well defined and designed?
  • Would the idea, program, product, or service address a current gap in the marketplace or ecosystem?
  • Is the target market clearly defined? Does the proposer clearly identify which customer they are serving?
  • Would the funding be critical to testing out an idea that otherwise wouldn’t be able to launch?
  • Does the proposer represent an underrepresented voice in the ecosystem (by race, gender, sector, geography, socioeconomic status)?
  • Was the proposal clear, concise and did it communicate all required information?
  • If successful, does the idea, program, product, or service ultimately benefit entrepreneurs or strengthen the chances for entrepreneurs to start and grow businesses successfully?

12-15 finalists will be chosen per round. Finalists will be invited for an interview by the committee.

Winners will be chosen and contacted prior to each of the three award events and announced publicly at each event. 75% of the funds are paid upfront and 25% after mutually agreed upon milestones are met.

After the event, winners will be required to be featured in promotional materials such as (but not limited to) videos, print ads/collateral materials and/or podcasts. Program execution must be completed within one year from the date of prize award.

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