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Two African-American Early-Stage Companies Receive Arch Grant

ARCH grantBy Nekala Alexander

CEO and co-founder of Million Dollar Scholar startup Derrius Quarles escaped the foster-care system in the southside of Chicago. After a teacher saw his potential and helped him change his path, he was awarded more than $1.1 million in scholarships and attended Morehouse College.

His company developed a financial aid search software in hopes of giving parents access to more funding for their college student.

On Thursday, he was awarded the nonprofit Arch Grant. Million Dollar Scholar will receive $50,000 through the 2015 Global Startup Competition.

Quarles’ company was one out of 11 startups to receive the Arch Grant. The organization provides equity free grants and pro bono services to entrepreneurs to relocate or retain their business to St. Louis.

Million Dollar Scholar’s COO and co-founder Ras Asan said he and Quarles are “millennial age” Black men. “There’s not too many of us out here in tech space,” he said.

Chris Motley, another Arch Grant recipient, founded Better Weekdays, which is a job-matching company that helps universities improve job placement for graduates, and it helps companies hire these candidates based on job compatibility.

“We applied last year, and we didn’t even make it to the finalist round,” he said. “We weren’t ready last year, but we are definitely ready now.”

He said winning the grant left him “speechless.”

Co-founder of Million Dollar Scholar startup Derrius Quarles

Co-founder of Million Dollar Scholar startup Derrius Quarles

Better Weekdays plans to hire a salesperson who is from St. Louis. Motley plans to have every school in the country using his company’s program.

“It helps to solve a big problem of tracking students in their careers,” he said. “State institutions are getting funding that is tied to job placement outcomes.”

Arch Grant has awarded $3.65 million to grow 66 early stage businesses since it launched in 2012. These companies have created more than 250 jobs in Missouri, generated $16 million in revenue and raised $49 million in capital funding as of March 2015.

Since its creation, the Arch Grant has drawn applicants from 62 countries , and in the United States, 41 states plus the District of Columbia.

“St. Louis was founded by entrepreneurs and immigrants and we are proud to support the next generation of entrepreneurs and immigrants who are, once again, defining our nation’s future,” said Ginger Imster, executive director of Arch Grant.

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