On Tuesday, July 21, the Sacramento City Council unanimously approved a $10 million dollar fund to help foster innovation and expand the startup pipeline in Sacramento. The approval drew praise from the Sacramento startup community and Mayor Kevin Johnson characterized it as landing on the moon and ushering in a new era here in Sacramento.

Where will this money go and how will it be used? What can local startups expect from the programs?

The City of Sacramento Innovation & Growth Fund has two distinct classes of programs: Capital Programs and Administrative Programs. Capital Programs are designed to “increase industry diversity, company valuations, and the number of jobs and startups throughout the entire City.”

Administrative programs are designed to “demonstrate leadership in the innovation community by championing entrepreneurship and implementing creative, best practices within government … and will be a platform from which entrepreneurs and startups can find centralized and curated services to aide them in launching, growing and scaling their ideas and products.” I won’t cover the Administrative Programs in this particular post – maybe in a subsequent article.

City of Sacramento Innovation & Growth Fund Capital Programs

The three Capital Programs include:

  1. RAILS Grants (Rapid Acceleration, Innovation & Leadership in Sacramento)
  2. Local Investments
  3. Strategic Investments

Sacramento Innovation & Growth Fund Capital Programs


RAILS Grants

The RAILS program focuses on leadership training for potential entrepreneurs, innovative opportunities to test news ideas, and startup accelerators to scale the ideas that work  and will inject $1,000,000 in grants per year in grants of $25,000 – $50,000 to projects that help foster and enable startups and entrepreneurship in Sacramento. There are three kinds of RAILS grants:

Acceleration Grants

For accelerator and incubator programs supporting Sacramento startups through mentorship, networking, and education to raise capital, grow their business, and create new jobs.

Innovation Grants

For civic tech companies and organizations making it easier to work with and in Sacramento; or for local organizations bringing together the innovation community in Sacramento.  (Full disclosure: I’ve applied for a small Innovation Grant to expand the offerings of this site.)

Leadership Grants

For educational programs training our next entrepreneurs in technology and business to build Sacramento-based startups.

Learn more about RAILS grants and apply. Deadline to submit is July 22.

If you have more question about the grants, the application process, and what happens next,  come to the Code for Sacramento meeting on Wednesday, July 6 at 7:00 at the Urban Hive to get details from program manager Ash Roughani.

Local Investments

The Local Investments arm of the Capital Programs aims to aim to increase the overall number of startups that choose to grow and stay in Sacramento. It will allow the City to partner with a non-profit, economic development-focused organization to invest $1 million in a local venture fund for investing in local companies in amounts of $100,000, $150,000, $200,000.

Strategic Investments

For the Strategic Investments, the City plans to partner with global accelerator and venture fund “500 Startups,” to invest $2 million in strategic investments with the aim to increase the number of startups from outside of the region that choose to launch in or relocate to Sacramento.

It will be interesting to track what comes out of each of these programs and I’m looking forward to seeing how they will help inject even more energy into the Sacramento startup community.