Grant will help microenterprise and incubator programs empower disadvantaged Sacramento entrepreneurs

December 28, 2020 — Sacramento, CA

Umpqua Bank has announced that Alchemist Community Development Corporation will receive a $100,000 grant in recognition of the organization’s creative adaptation in training entrepreneurs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The ability to connect talent and passion for food with business expertise, planning and even financing may seem like an impossible dream for many. Those dreams seem even further away for our immigrant and disadvantaged residents in Sacramento,” Pedar Bruce, vice president & community development officer. “However, Alchemist CDC is helping to bring those dreams closer to reality for these food entrepreneurs. We realize that specialized training like this, especially during the pandemic, will open doors for prosperity and opportunity in Sacramento.”

California’s shelter-in-place orders arrived just two weeks in to Alchemist’s second cohort of the Alchemist Microenterprise Academy (AMA). This 12-week program on the fundamentals of starting a food business had, until then, been taught entirely in-person. Showing themselves to be nimble, program managers Jacob Sacks and Chef LaTisha Sohai rapidly converted the course to an online format. This transition not only preserved the program, but actually made it more accessible for some participants who had trouble finding childcare in order to attend the weekly classes.

As the pandemic stretched on, Alchemist recognized the need to bridge the digital divide and secured funding to purchase laptop computers that can be loaned to AMA participants without the technology needed to complete the course and its requirements. This funding came, as part of a Technical Assistance contract with the City of Sacramento that made use of CARES Act funding to open spaces for an additional fifteen small businesses in the third AMA cohort.

“Like much of the rest of the world we’ve shifted our programs to online platforms such as Zoom to provide technical assistance to our entrepreneurs,” says Jacob Sacks, Alchemist Kitchen Program Manager. “Despite these online transitions our entrepreneurs have shown amazing resilience and continue to develop and grow their amazing businesses.”

Alchemist CDC has also been working throughout the pandemic to pursue development of a physical “Incubator Hub” that will provide participants in the Alchemist Kitchen Incubator Program with access to affordable shared-use commercial kitchen space, co-working space, and opportunities to start their business strong by selling directly to the public.

“The impact of COVID-19 on Sacramento’s food businesses has been extreme,” notes Alchemist Executive Director, Sam Greenlee. “We have seen so many beloved restaurants permanently close their doors and many more remain at risk. For us, this has really driven home the point we need to be creative and proactive in finding ways to help new food businesses start well and help fill in the empty spaces left by these closures.”

The Alchemist Kitchen Program, made up of both the Alchemist Microenterprise Academy and Incubator Program, serves to help food entrepreneurs who are low-income, under-resourced, or who face significant barriers in starting a food business. The next AMA cohort will begin accepting applications in early 2021. Register your interest at in order to receive notifications when the application period opens.

Name of Press Contact (Alchemist CDC): Sam Greenlee, Executive Director

Phone: 916-598-3032


Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Umpqua Bank.

Alchemist Community Development Corporation is a Sacramento-based 501(c)3.