About Us

Fortitude Fund 2.0 is even more purposeful. We're making it cool to be an entrepreneur in Northeast Indiana by elevating their fundamental character traits: Grit, Guts, Heart, and Faith.


Inspired by one of the 20th century’s most notable innovators, television inventor and long-time Fort Wayne resident Philo T. Farnsworth, and modeled on the successful grant program of the 1517 Fund, Elevate Northeast Indiana created the Fortitude Fund (formerly called the Farnsworth Fund) to be a catalyst for changing the entrepreneurial culture of the region in 2018.

Entrepreneurial Culture Shock demands a new approach to entrepreneurship. The Fortitude Fund is a vehicle to identify and support founders of companies from the very beginning. In its first two years powered by Elevate Northeast Indiana, the fund gave over 200 grants to entrepreneurs who will ultimately drive our entrepreneurial culture, even if their first idea is not their biggest success.

Now, through a partnership with Huntington University, the Fortitude Fund will continue developing and maintaining entrepreneurship and talent in northeast Indiana.

The Fortitude Fund helps entrepreneurs with grit, guts, heart, and faith access the 3 essential elements to business success: Community, Connections, and Money. Through the Fortitude Fund, Northeast Indiana entrepreneurs can apply and receive a $1,000 grant. Upon receiving this initial grant and showing progress in their business, grantees are also eligible to receive a Next Level Grant of $2,500.

The only requirement is that grantees stay in touch with the organization through events, mentorship programs, and progress updates to grow in success throughout their business endeavors.

By identifying, supporting, and networking individuals like the young Philo T. Farnsworth, who have the vision and drive to put bold ideas into action, Northeast Indiana’s brand of entrepreneurism will create and grow new companies through a highly connected, collaborative culture with entrepreneurs at the center.

How It Works

  • Connect with the Fortitude Fund Community (Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Fortitude Fund Events)

  • Be a Connector and become a Connection for other Fortitude Fund Founders
  • Tell Us Your Story/Submit a Grant Proposal

Those who receive the initial $1,000 grant will then be eligible to receive further funding through a next-level grant of $2,500 if their business continues to see growth.

And we don’t stop after our grants! We will continue aiding you as you pursue local, state, and national resources. These can include conventional financing, angel funding, venture funding, grant funding, etc.

Potentially fundable ideas will include the full spectrum of entrepreneurial activity, from potential small businesses through high growth, venture-scalable concepts. The grants are available to entrepreneurs creating for-profit companies – those who are leading nonprofit projects are encouraged to join the community but are not eligible for a grant. Decision criteria will include the character and potential of the Founder and the potential for success and impact. Additional weight will be given to opportunities that align with the region’s focus areas.

Come for the Money – Stay for the Company

Grantees will have access to the Fund’s Regional Director of Entrepreneurship, John Niederman, who fosters community building among peer grantees and helps connect grantees to a network of experienced mentors, advisors, and community business resources.

About Philo T. Farnsworth

Farnsworth had his initial idea for TV invention at age 15 as a Utah farm boy. By 20, after brief stints in the Navy and at BYU, he had his own lab above a garage in San Francisco and was filing his 1st patent application. His bold, inventive impact on the world grew far beyond that first patent as he was cited as an inventor on over 300 patents.

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