Program Update

Inner City Alumni Network

The Inner City Alumni Network (ICAN), comprised of past participants of one or more of our Urban Business Initiatives, empowers and serves ICIC alumni by providing ongoing learning and professional development, visibility and recognition, and a network through which they may explore collaboration and contracting opportunities. The program includes ICIC’s exclusive online Community platform, networking, and educational events conducted throughout the year, as well as timely and relevant resources.

2021 Impact Snapshot: Inner City Alumni Network


Alumni events hosted


Number of ICAN members that attended ICAN and ICIC events


Number of unique logins on Community


Number of alumni speakers at ICIC events


Number of alumni businesses featured in ICIC publications (social media post, blog, spotlight in newsletter)


Amount donated to ICIC by ICAN members


Number of ICAN members who donated to ICIC

ICAN Participant Spotlight

“The ICAN Happy Hour was a great situation to network with some of the business professionals I met and some I didn’t get the chance to meet during the ICIC conference! I loved the experience. I meet people who have been vital in my daily business practices. I get to share ideas and receive vital advice.”

Cass Thomas Jr.

Champs Construction, Memphis, Tennessee
(ICCC Memphis 2020)

“The ICAN Restaurant Panel was extremely informative and provided insights from companies from catering to food services. We had an opportunity to learn first-hand how having a great product, along with the proper support, and hard work, can catapult you to success. The breakout sessions allowed for a deeper dive into specific questions from the group. I was glad that I attended and look forward to the next ICAN event.”

Tracey West

Irresistible Pound Cakes, Atlanta, Georgia
(ICCC Atlanta 2020 and 2021)

Inner City Alumni Network (ICAN) Advisory Board

Comprised of successful small business owners that have participated in one of our Urban Business Initiatives, the ICAN Advisory Board offers innovative advice and dynamic perspectives in the strategy and implementation of the Inner City Alumni Network.

ICAN and its advisory board members provide a foundation of support for current and future small businesses that participate in ICIC programs, helping to drive inclusive economic prosperity in North America’s under-resourced communities.

This diverse group of leaders provides insights which help ICIC refine its alumni engagement strategy in order to meet the most urgent needs of the communities we serve. Their expertise and thought leadership play an integral role in providing alumni with robust resources and networking events and building a strong system of support among the small business owners we serve.

ICAN Advisory Board Spotlight: Stephanie Hickman

Stephanie Hickman’s journey from labor attorney to public utility executive to construction company president took many twists and turns. When she took over her family construction business, Trice, in 2006 she made it a goal to grow the firm and harness her vast network from her previous career.

The result is the firm became the first Black woman-owned construction company in Chicago to be awarded several major utility contracts, as well as large contracts with the city’s transportation department. The growth and her stewardship were recognized as Trice Construction Company earned its position on the Inner City 100 as one of the top 100 fastest growing businesses in under-resourced communities list for three consecutive years – 2019, 2020, and 2021.

Stephanie attributes much of the firm’s success – as well as her professional growth – to her experiences working with ICIC, specifically the Inner City Capital Connections (ICCC) program, which she participated in three times since 2011.

“I have attended a lot of different programs and business accelerators and seminars, but ICCC is a little different,” she says. “It focuses primarily on the things you need to do to gain access to capital. It helped me learn about different types of capital. It exposes small businesses to what those options are, and it puts you in front of capital providers. You have a chance to sit down in front of them, pitch them, and better access capital for your organization.”

Stephanie was so grateful and impressed by her experience that she joined the inaugural advisory board of ICIC’s Inner City Alumni Network (ICAN) on which she served from 2018 to 2020, and in May of this year became member of the organization’s board of directors. She is now working hard to encourage other BIPOC and women-owned firms to take advantage of the opportunities ICIC presents so their businesses too can grow and thrive.

“Because of the experience I had and the things I was able to learn and apply in my organization, I’ve encouraged others to participate. I think it’s impactful,” she said.

Trice’s work has been recognized by Crain’s Chicago Business, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency, the Chicago Department of Transportation, and ICIC, among other organizations.

ICAN Advisory Board

Dianne Austin
Coils to Locs, Boston, MA
ICCC Western MA 2020

Terri Evans
Rylon’s Smokehouse, Chicago, IL
ICCC Chicago 2019 and 2021; 10,000 Small Businesses Chicago 2020

Sam Gude
Gude Management Group
Atlanta, GA

ICCC Atlanta 2013, ICCC Birmingham 2015, Building for Growth Advisory Board Member

Janice Jucker
Three Brothers Bakery, Houston, TX
ICCC Dallas 2015, 2016, 2017; 2017; IC100 2015 and 2016; 10,000 Small Businesses Houston 2012, Founding ICAN Advisory Board Member

Sion Tesone
IC100 2020 and 2021

Wei Wang
UrbanTech Engineering, New York. NY
ICCC Philadelphia 2018 and 2020; IC100 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020; 10,000 Small Businesses New York City 2015