The D.C. Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD) announced on Jan. 20 the launch of WeAspire 2023, the focus of the Aspire to Entrepreneurial program for the city’s returning-citizen-led businesses.

Previously incarcerated District residents and or justice-involved are eligible to apply for the program. The program is designed to educate and encourage returning citizens to build and scale their businesses through cohort-based training and pitch competitions.

This is the eighth year the DSLBD has administered the program. Plus, this year marks the third annual round of cohort-based WeAspire training and pitch program.

“Our response to adversity our residents face defines the character of our city,” said Kristi Whitfield, director of DSLBD. “As a result of recognizing the unique challenges returning citizens face when starting a business, WeAspire has become a national model for training and developing successful small business owners as a result.”

This year, WeAspire plans to provide training for 30 returning citizen entrepreneurs, including new businesses and established business owners. The application period will close on Feb. 28.

To learn more about the program, visit

James Wright Jr.

James Wright Jr. is the D.C. political reporter for the Washington Informer Newspaper. He has worked for the Washington AFRO-American Newspaper as a reporter, city editor and freelance writer and The Washington...

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