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South Bend, Ind. (May 24, 2021) The Judd Leighton Foundation today announced a new fund aimed at investing capital into high-growth, high-potential early-stage startups located in north central Indiana. The Leighton Elevate Angel Development (LEAD) Fund is launched in partnership with Elevate Ventures, a venture development organization based out of Indianapolis that provides needed capital options for startups.

“We are delighted to participate with Elevate Ventures in this important new initiative,” said Jim Keenan, president of the Judd Leighton Foundation. “Innovation is at the heart of any thriving community. And for our region to succeed we need to continue to foster an attractive entrepreneurial ecosystem. Our hope is that through the LEAD Fund we will be able to attract more early-stage capital to invest alongside us so that we can continue to retain more of these exciting new ideas and talent in our region.”

The LEAD Fund totals $1 million, and investments can range anywhere from $50,000-$200,000. Eligible startups must be raising less than $1 million and be located in Elkhart, Marshall or St. Joseph counties. Like other funds Elevate manages, the LEAD Fund requires a co-investment, which means at least 50% of the total investment round must come from another capital source.

An investment committee comprised of leaders in north central Indiana will be responsible for LEAD Fund investment decisions.

Elevate Ventures will provide light due diligence prior to investment as well as handle distribution and stewardship of the funding post investment.

Companies who receive funding from the LEAD Fund will be required to report to Elevate Ventures on a quarterly basis and are classified as an Elevate Ventures portfolio company.

“Launching the LEAD Fund in partnership with the Leighton Foundation creates another capital option for high-growth companies to get the funding they need to grow,” said Chris LaMothe, CEO of Elevate Ventures. “Startup activity in the region has grown over the past several years, and this fund is another critical resource to build off the momentum and give north-central Indiana an increased competitive advantage.”

Interested companies can contact Nicholas Kuhn, entrepreneur-in-residence for the Startup South Bend-Elkhart region at for additional assistance. Those interested in applying should visit