CIT Unveils Launch & Grow Initiative for SoCal Small Business Owners

CIT Group and its Southern California retail branch bank, OneWest Bank, introduced the next facet of the Launch and Grow initiative. In partnership with the nonprofit Operation HOPE, the 12-week HOPE Inside program kicked off in Los Angeles, seeking to empower local women small business owners.

Building upon last year’s 10-part small business educational video series and the most recent Launch and Grow New York City program, the initiative includes a series of in-person workshops and classes for small business owners. Classes will focus on key topics such as maintaining strong personal credit, accessing capital, and managing budgets.

“Our brand is about turning ideas into outcomes and we’re excited to support women in the LA-area with the tools and training they need to build strong and successful local businesses,” said CIT Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Gina Proia. “We understand how critical small businesses are to the local economy, and when they thrive, communities thrive.”

“We are pleased to bring the Launch and Grow program to the West Coast and arm local participants with the knowledge they need to succeed,” said Operation HOPE’s Founder, Chairman and CEO, John Hope Bryant. “Essential to this process is building and maintaining good credit so that the ‘woman behind the business’ is truly empowered.”

Launch and Grow is unique in that it brings CIT banking experts into the HOPE Inside training program, which is a no-cost financial education curriculum for small business owners. OneWest Bank has provided HOPE Inside within its branches since 2014 and will host Los Angeles participants in its Tarzana location.

“Supporting small businesses where we live and work is one of our key tenets,” said Heather Ellison, head of Retail Banking at OneWest. “We’re pleased to extend our partnership with Operation HOPE in Southern California as this effort highlights our steadfast commitment to helping local entrepreneurs launch thriving enterprises.”

By the end of 2020, the program will provide over 400 women in New York and Los Angeles with the tools and resources they need to cultivate their small businesses. The Los Angeles program involves a network of program partners including Mastercard, Bloom Ads Global Media Group, HCT Group and the National Association of Women Business Owners, Los Angeles. These partners, along with CIT and OneWest representatives, will provide their expertise and insights during the upcoming cohort.

Individuals can access the content and resources by visiting

Since 1992, Operation HOPE has been moving America from civil rights to “silver rights” with the mission of making free enterprise and capitalism work for the underserved—disrupting poverty for millions of low and moderate-income families across the nation. Operation HOPE has served more than 4 million individuals and directed more than $3.2 billion in economic activity into disenfranchised communities. It recently received its fourth consecutive 4-star charity rating for fiscal management and commitment to transparency and accountability by the prestigious non-profit evaluator, Charity Navigator.

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