Compelled by Jesus’ invitation to ‘love our neighbors as we love ourselves,’ Corner to Corner was founded by Will and Tiffany Acuff in 2011. The young couple wanted to create a relationship-centered nonprofit that focused on seeing neighbors in their low-income Nashville neighborhood flourish on their own terms. In partnership with the community, the first program was aimed at equipping those recently out of prison with the necessary skills to gain meaningful employment.

Since those early days, Corner to Corner has grown and expanded programming throughout Middle Tennessee.

Today, Corner to Corner has more than 1,000 Black entrepreneur graduates, who in 2022 alone put more than $21 million back into the local economy. Also, more than 50 percent if its young creators grew a full grade level in a pilot study with Vanderbilt University.

When they first started, each had their day jobs, which they used to help fund Corner to Corner. As it continued to grow and the programs they offered became too expensive to fund themselves, Will Acuff rebranded himself as a fundraiser.

“For us as a nonprofit, we don’t have a capital raise, but we increased our annual revenue in terms of fundraising from 20 percent to 30 percent year over year,” Acuff says. “And last year was up around, I want to say, 140 percent. Some really big growth. And that came about through consistent good work and sharing that story and developing deep relationships, both here in Nashville and around the nation from people who cared about the kind of economic equity issues that we focus on.”

Acuff discussed on Smart Business Dealmakers Podcast how it all started, how he raised funds and what the future holds for Corner to Corner.