Growing, Step by Step

Growing, Step by Step

She knew from a young age she wanted to work with children. Learn how a Regions Foundation community partner helped her small business thrive.

NORTHAMPTON, MA / ACCESSWIRE / June 26, 2024 / Regions Bank

By Kim Borges

“I’ve always loved being around kids. Even when I was small, I always wanted to play school, to play teacher.”

Angelica “Angie” Granados knew at a young age she wanted to work with children. But knowing all the ins and outs of entrepreneurship? Well, those are lessons the Stepping Stones Child Care & Learning Center, LLC owner continues to learn to this day.

So, when the opportunity arose for the Laredo, Texas, small-business owner to return to the classroom to gain valuable insights on running and growing her company, Granados seized it.

“We’re true believers in PeopleFund,” she said. “And I wouldn’t be here without them believing in us.”

What is PeopleFund?

Established in 1994, PeopleFund is dedicated to creating economic opportunity and financial stability for underserved small businesses across Texas. The nonprofit fulfills that mission by providing access to education, capital, technical resources and more, all at no cost to clients.

“We’re true believers in PeopleFund. And I wouldn’t be here without them believing in us.”
Angie Granados, owner of Stepping Stones Child Care & Learning Center, LLC

The Regions Foundation, a nonprofit primarily funded by Regions Bank, has been a longtime PeopleFund community partner, most recently investing in the organization’s Small Business Loan Fund and its Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) Accelerator Program (read more below). The BIPOC Accelerator Program and assistance are open to everyone.

“PeopleFund supports entrepreneurs at every stage from start-up to expansion to help them achieve their goals,” said Marta Self, executive director of the Regions Foundation. “Through their coaching model and their depth of resources, PeopleFund is empowering its clients to create their road map to business success.”

Given Granados helps children at Stepping Stones master fundamentals like the alphabet, we’re sharing a few ABCs related to her small-business journey and the support she’s received from her PeopleFund – and personal – networks.

A is for …

Advice: “Your mama is always right because I’ve been here more than you have.”

When Granados’s mother, Carmen Contreras, who helps her run Stepping Stones, offers advice, Angie listens. It’s paid off more than once, including with her discovery of PeopleFund.

“My mom saw an online ad for the program and encouraged me to apply,” Granados said.

Along with experience and wisdom, Granados knows she can also always count on her mom for support.

“As corny as it sounds, my mom is my rock,” she said. “She’s helped me get this far. She’s my trouper, she doesn’t give up on me. And she won’t let me give up on myself, either.”

Adversity: Most entrepreneurs face it launching or growing their business. Granados is no exception.

“When COVID hit, we had to close down for three months,” she said.

PeopleFund helped thousands of small-business owners like Granados when the pandemic turned their worlds upside down overnight. That support included offering bridge loans with zero interest, helping entrepreneurs develop personalized disaster-response plans and identifying opportunities for federal support. The Regions Foundation provided a grant to help.

“We’ve all reached a moment in time where we want to give up,” Granados recalled of those especially challenging days. “We all go through obstacles, and we went through a lot of obstacles. It’s just the way you handle it. Through God’s help and prayer, we got here.”

Anthony: As in, Lopez, a small-business specialist with PeopleFund. “Mr. Anthony is an open book, he told me, ‘Whatever you need help with, let me know,'” said Granados. “He was there for me. He read my business pitch and said everything was going to be OK.”

You can read about more PeopleFund clients Lopez has worked with at the end of this article.

B is for …

BIPOC Accelerator: PeopleFund’s Black, Indigenous and People of Color Accelerator is an eight-week program involving weekly seminars and homework. Granados graduated from the BIPOC Accelerator last December.

“There were so many things they taught us, from promoting our business to how to handle our finances,” she said. “Everything was there for you to take it. It was a great experience.”

Business Plan: Every BIPOC Accelerator Program participant develops and pitches theirs with support and feedback provided by their coach before graduation.

C is for …

Capital: It’s a necessity for small-business owners, particularly in the earliest phases.

“PeopleFund helped us with our first loan to open in 2018, and they helped us with a second loan when we bought our second property last April,” said Granados.

Since its founding, PeopleFund has provided more than $225 million in financial assistance to over 5,500 small businesses and $195 million in new market tax credits attracting $812 million in investments. The result? A direct impact of over $1 billion to Texas’s economy.

CDFIs: It stands for Community Development Financial Institutions, created to provide financial products and services to people and businesses located in under-resourced markets. PeopleFund is one of nearly 1,500 CDFIs nationwide.

Coaching: It’s a key aspect of PeopleFund’s model as previously mentioned.

“Receiving a coach is such a plus,” said Granados. “Even if you don’t want to talk in class, you can talk with your coach one-on-one.”

Curriculum: Granados is incredibly proud of the curriculum Stepping Stones has developed for the 100 children it serves.

“We are a four-star center, which is the highest rating,” she said. “We’re a learning center preparing children for school, making sure they are ready academically, socially and emotionally when they get to elementary school. It’s important knowing I have a place for children to learn the way that’s going to help them later.”

The greatest lesson Granados has learned as an entrepreneur?

“If you really love it and you really believe in your business, it’s going to be OK – but you need to really love it,” she said. “It has to be your passion. This is my passion, this is my baby.”

Read About More PeopleFund Clients:

About Regions Foundation
Regions Foundation supports community investments that positively impact the communities served by Regions Bank. The Foundation engages in a grantmaking program focused on priorities including economic and community development; education and workforce readiness; and financial wellness. The Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) nonprofit funded primarily through contributions from Regions Bank.

About PeopleFund
PeopleFund is a nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution, an SBA lender and the managing member of the Veteran Loan Fund. Established in 1994, PeopleFund has 30 years of experience helping thousands on the path to financial security. PeopleFund programs provide individuals of all backgrounds, regardless of race, gender, or creed, with the capital, training, and resources needed to grow healthy small businesses. Since inception, PeopleFund has delivered over $225 million in financial assistance to over 5,500 small businesses and $195 million in New Market Tax Credit allocations that attracted $812 million in investments – putting the direct impact in the Texas economy surpassing $1 billion. PeopleFund has also helped create and retain 22,000 jobs and delivered over 180,000 hours of business education. To learn more about PeopleFund, please visit

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SOURCE: Regions Bank

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