African American female entrepreneur participating in online meeting
African American female entrepreneur participating in online meeting

Flywheel and First Financial Bank Launch ElevateEquity Accelerator

Cincinnati, OH – April 14, 2022Flywheel Social Enterprise Hub today announced First Financial Bank (Nasdaq: FFBC) as the program sponsor of ElevateEquity, a program addressing systemic racial and gender inequity through entrepreneurship. The flagship program is a 7-week virtual accelerator focused on impactful startups in Cincinnati and the Greater Cincinnati region. During the accelerator, these startups will receive coaching, resources and financial support to accelerate their growth and impact.

“Elevating equity, to First Financial, means that we’re providing opportunities for everyone to be successful, regardless of their background, financial situation, or their personal situation,” said Roddell McCullough, chief corporate responsibility officer for First Financial Bank. “First Financial’s strategies on community development and diversity and inclusion align perfectly with the goal of elevating equity in our region.”

Through powerful partnerships, culturally competent coaching and access to capital, the ElevateEquity program represents a step in creating a more equitable economy through entrepreneurship.

“This collaboration with First Financial Bank has been a crucial step in our work to create more access to capital and technical support for underrepresented founders,” said Josie Dalton, program manager for Flywheel. “We’re excited for the opportunity to work together toward our shared mission of a more equitable and vibrant region.”

The companies selected to the 2022 ElevateEquity cohort are advancing innovative solutions that will impact generational wealth and community resilience. The spring 2022 cohort was formed with the support of StartupCincy community partners, including MORTAR, Aviatra Accelerator, Black Achievers, Main Street Ventures, Cintrifuse, Fintech Frontier, City of Cincinnati and SoCap Accelerate.

“A key aspect of First Financial’s approach to elevating equity has been our work to locate financial centers in communities that are easily accessible to many people,” said Jenny Powell, chief marketing officer for First Financial Bank. “These centers not only provide access to financial professionals but also meeting space, individual work space, Wi-Fi and other resources to help small businesses grow and prosper.”

ElevateEquity will culminate April 27 with an in-person Demo Day event at MadTree Brewing in Oakley, offering the cohort companies an exceptional opportunity to pitch their business to an audience of potential customers, investors, team members and other stakeholders. The event will be free and open to the public. Follow this link to register for the event:

Those interested can learn more about the ElevateEquity accelerator and its sponsors at

About First Financial Bancorp.

First Financial Bancorp. is a Cincinnati, Ohio based bank holding company.  As of December 31, 2021, the Company had $16.3 billion in assets, $9.3 billion in loans, $12.9 billion in deposits and $2.3 billion in shareholders' equity.  The Company's subsidiary, First Financial Bank, founded in 1863, provides banking and financial services products through its six lines of business: Commercial, Retail Banking, Investment Commercial Real Estate, Mortgage Banking, Commercial Finance and Wealth Management.  These business units provide traditional banking services to business and retail clients.  Wealth Management provides wealth planning, portfolio management, trust and estate, brokerage and retirement plan services and had approximately $3.4 billion in assets under management as of December 31, 2021.  The Company operated 139 full service banking centers as of December 31, 2021, primarily in Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and Illinois, while the Commercial Finance business lends into targeted industry verticals on a nationwide basis.  Additional information about the Company, including its products, services and banking locations, is available at

About Flywheel

Flywheel launched in 2011 with the purpose of forming an innovative social enterprise hub like no other in the United States. Since then it has mined hundreds of best practices in the nonprofit and for profit sectors, that have helped the organization to identify the characteristics most essential to a social enterprise becoming successful and sustainable.