Newark creative entrepreneur D’TaRelle Tullis among graduates of Rising Tide Capital’s latest Community Business Academy

Late last week, 146 entrepreneurs — including 56 from Essex County — graduated from Rising Tide Capital’s (RTC) nationally recognized 12-week Community Business Academy (CBA) with a newly-acquired business education, an expanded network, and access to the support and resources they need to start or grow a successful business. In a historic moment in the organization’s 10-year history, the 1,000th entrepreneur graduated from the program, as part of the largest CBA class to-date.

The new RTC entrepreneurs joined an alumni network of 968 CBA graduates across Northern New Jersey in a graduation ceremony held at Saint Peter’s University. Featured speakers included Virginia Bender of Saint Peter’s University, Rising Tide Capital’s Chairman of the Board of Trustees Doug Forrester, cofounders Alex Forrester and Alfa Demmellash as well as representatives from the eight sessions of the CBA. During the ceremony, graduates received a Community Business Academy completion certificate and free membership into the Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey.

Among the graduating class was Newark native D’TaRelle Tullis, who is making a difference in her local community. With a mission to fight childhood obesity and provide affordable dance classes to surrounding communities, Tullis started her mobile dance studio Pitter Patter Feet in 1993. Starting with schools in urban cities like Newark, Maplewood and Irvington—she teaches ballet, hip hop, jazz and tap to youth combining dance with classroom instruction.

“Most families in my hometown lack the funds to offer their children professional dance classes; my business allows me to provide that opportunity. While my parents were unable to afford dance classes while I was growing up, I hope to infuse physical activity into the everyday curriculum to ensure the optimal development of youth,” she said.

With clients ranging from childcare facilities to public schools, Tullis uses her expertise as a New Jersey State approved consultant and trainer in early childhood development to create classes that provide physical and social development. While she started her business 22 years ago, Tullis took the Community Business Academy to gain the business and financial management acumen to sustain her business.

“I been in business for a really long time, however while I enjoyed the artistic side of teaching the dance classes I needed help with actually running the business. The CBA was extremely valuable. I learned that I needed to create a system to my everyday work to ensure I deliver excellent quality services. I also learned a lot about myself and built lasting relationships with my classmates and instructors.”

Since taking the Community Business Academy, Tulis has won $3,000 for Pitter Patter Feet after pitching her business in the Newark Innovation Acceleration Challenge.  She says her participation in the CBA gave her the additional boost of confidence needed to present her business and talk about pricing and book keeping. Tullis plans to explore options for creating online classes to expand her reach to more students.

The CBA, offered in locations throughout Hudson and Essex Counties, teaches entrepreneurs business fundamentals including budgeting, marketing, bookkeeping and financing.  Each CBA student receives a full-tuition waiver—covered by Rising Tide Capital’s funding partners—and continued business support through the Business Acceleration Services Program.

Rising Tide Capital raised 260K to support New Jersey entrepreneurs, including two business academies in Newark

Last week, Rising Tide Capital raised more than $260,000 to support entrepreneurship development in underserved communities throughout New Jersey. In just three years, the Start Something Champions Gala has raised more than $1 million, providing scholarships for aspiring entrepreneurs to receive business training through the nonprofit’s nationally recognized Community Business Academy (CBAs).

Two community business academies will be launching in Newark in 2015: one in Vailsburg, and one in the Ironbound. Because of Rising Tide Capital’s success in raising funds, the $3,000 tuition for the 12-week intensive course will be waived for applicants.

“This year’s Start Something Champions Gala recognized engines of our local economy from small business owners such as first place winner of the 2014 Start Something Challenge Ninotchka Johnson to a national leader in values-based business like Whole Foods’s Co-CEO Walter Robb who received the Market Maker of the Year award,” said RTC co-founder and CEO Alfa Demmellash.

Hosted at the Hyatt Regency on the Hudson, Rising Tide Capital also honored The Paul & Phyllis Fireman Charitable Foundation, New Jersey City University and Numi Organic Tea, for their dedication to entrepreneurship, job creation, and commitment to sustainability in underserved communities. The three winners of the 2014 Start Something Challenge were also awarded $22,500 in cash to help build and strengthen their businesses.

“The Start Something Challenge helped me evolve from an artist into an entrepreneur,” said Ninotchka Johnson, winner of the 2014 Start Something Challenge. ”The process helped me perfect my business pitch and create a solid business concept and direction for the future. I also gained a support system, the 9 other finalists. They give helpful advice and understand the work and sacrifice it takes to be an entrepreneur.

Savion Glover will headline free ARTfest event at Rutgers Newark this weekend

Savion Glover – tap dancer, actor, choreographer and Tony Award Winner – will speak about his journey as an artist-entrepreneur to attendees at Rising Tide Capital’s ARTfest! this weekend.

To be held this Saturday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Rutgers University’s Paul Robeson Campus Center at 350 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd,  this free event will bring together local residents for a full day of live performances, local entrepreneurs and an opportunity to meet Glover, a Newark native and renowned tap dancer.

While ARTfest!, which Rising Tide says is a celebration of “the entrepreneur in every artist”, has been an annual event in Jersey City since 2009, Rising Tide Capital will host a second ARTfest! in Newark  this year for the first time ever.

“As we continue to grow and expand our reach into different counties, it is imperative that we also expand our programming to provide opportunities such as this to each community,” said Program Manager and founder of ARTfest! Mary Sansait. She added, “Newark is a hub for arts related activities and talented artists, so it is important that Rising Tide Capital support the artist entrepreneurs in Newark and highlight the importance of showcasing their art. This is why we decided to host ARTfest! in both Hudson and Essex Counties this year.”

The Newark edition of ARTfest! will feature a number of live performances by artist entrepreneurs including jazz musician and Rising Tide entrepreneur Brianne Ford, as well as soul and hip-hop artist J Ross. DJ K-Salaam—who has performed worldwide and worked with artists such as Nas, Lauryn Hill and Trey Songz—will also offer entertainment throughout the day. In addition to live entertainment, attendees will also have the opportunity to purchase handmade crafts from Rising Tide entrepreneurs who will be vending at the event.

“It’s important for Rising Tide Capital to do events like ARTfest! because it provides a platform to showcase our growing community of artistic and creative entrepreneurs,” said Sansait. “They can be successful business owners even though they haven’t thought of their talents as businesses. Savion Glover is a successful artist entrepreneur who is giving back to his community, and I know he has a lot to share with other ‘artrepreneurs’ who will be in attendance.”


Newark Etsy Craft Entrepreneurship Program participants’ handmade products now available for sale

Aspiring Newark creative entrepreneurs recently participated in craft entrepreneurship classes offered by Etsy, the largest online marketplace for handmade goods. Per their website:

Over the past few years, the Etsy community — a global online network of independent artists and designers — have been pioneering a new model for economic prosperity. In a recent survey we conducted with 5,500 US sellers, 74% consider their Etsy shops businesses. As middle-skill, middle-wage jobs continue to decline, Etsy sellers represent an encouraging shift towards using manufacturing skills to generate supplemental income and flexible employment.

Now the handmade items from some of those creative entrepreneurs are available on Etsy’s website. You can visit the Newark entrepreneur page on to like, share, or purchase their handmade wares.