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What happens when a Startup Weekend organizing team can’t raise enough money from their community to fund their event? When they’ve exhausted all possible sponsorship opportunities and community leader connections – do they really have to give up?

Luckily, the Portland organizing team behind June’s Startup Weekend Access event doesn’t have to. Startup Weekend Access is paving the way for future events to become more accessible to everyone by providing necessary resources for people with disabilities.


When community member, Tara Gowland – organizer of the November Seattle Youth event, heard that Startup Weekend Access was having trouble raising funds, she immediately tapped into her Seattle ‘Community Chest’ and donated $800 of extra funds.

The Community Chest model allows organizers to share leftover funds with other communities. Startup Weekend teams are empowered to use their community chest in areas they deem the most impactful.

“I donated the community chest to Startup Weekend Access because I believe in the positive power of entrepreneurship in our lives,” Gowland says. “We all must learn to recognize the talent in each of us and support and encourage those who have the makings of an entrepreneur – the desire to create and to change the world with our ideas.”

Unfortunately, the organizers of Startup Weekend Access had to cancel their February event due to a snowstorm that shut down Portland.

“Because of the cancellation, we had to eat some inevitable costs,” Todd Bachmann, organizer for Startup Weekend Access says. “We lost our deposit for catering, perishable craft service items, and audiovisual equipment.”

Fortunately, the sponsors agreed to honor their sponsorship commitment for the rescheduled Access event, but the team still needed to make new deposits and print new materials.

“We don’t want to rock and boat and ask for more money,” Bachmann says. “The community chest has taken pressure off finding extra sponsorship to cover our loss. It has also helped us ensure we can afford the proper support network, such as American Sign Language interpretation, to make our event truly accessible.”