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The Nashville Entrepreneur Center (NEC) serves as a hub for entrepreneurs, providing them with essential resources to launch and grow their businesses. Recognizing the importance of inclusivity in fostering entrepreneurship, NEC sought to ensure that diverse entrepreneurs felt welcome and supported throughout their journey.

Client Background

The Nashville Entrepreneur Center (NEC) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting entrepreneurs in the Nashville area. With a mission to foster innovation and economic growth, NEC offers a range of programs and resources to help entrepreneurs succeed.

Project Scope

Populace Community Strategy partnered with NEC to assess and enhance NEC's sense of belonging and inclusion of the diverse community The focus was on increasing awareness and access to NEC's education cohorts and diversity scholars program among diverse entrepreneurs.


Populace engaged with former diverse cohort members and NEC stakeholders to gain insights into their experiences with the programs and overall perceptions of NEC's inclusivity. Through community engagement initiatives, we gathered feedback and identified areas for improvement.


Based on the insights gathered, Populace worked with NEC to realign processes and create new engagement opportunities to ensure inclusive access to NEC's programs and resources. This involved refining the application and selection process for the diversity scholars program and implementing outreach efforts targeted at diverse communities.


The collaboration between Populace and NEC resulted in several positive outcomes

  • Increased Visibility: NEC's efforts to enhance diversity and inclusion led to increased visibility within diverse communities, making the organization more accessible to entrepreneurs from underrepresented backgrounds.

  • Higher Application Rates: The initiatives aimed at promoting diversity and inclusivity resulted in a surge in applications for NEC's education cohorts from diverse entrepreneurs.

  • Enhanced Support: Diverse entrepreneurs who became NEC members gained access to increased capital and valuable connections, further supporting their entrepreneurial endeavors.

Lessons Learned

Through this project, both Populace and NEC learned the importance of proactive engagement and targeted outreach in fostering diversity and inclusion. Additionally, ongoing communication and feedback loops are crucial for maintaining inclusivity within entrepreneurial ecosystems.

Future Opportunities

Moving forward, NEC and Populace can build upon the success of this collaboration by continuing to prioritize diversity and inclusion in all aspects of their programs and initiatives. This includes ongoing outreach efforts, mentorship programs, and partnerships with organizations serving diverse communities.


The partnership between Populace Community Strategy and the Nashville Entrepreneur Center demonstrates the positive impact of intentional efforts to enhance diversity and inclusion within entrepreneurial ecosystems. By prioritizing inclusivity, NEC has not only expanded its reach but also provided valuable support to entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds, ultimately contributing to a more vibrant and equitable entrepreneurial community in Nashville.


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