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SCORE is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides free business mentoring services to prospective and established small business owners in the United States. More than 10,000 volunteers provide these services, with all volunteers being active and retired business executives and entrepreneurs. In addition to mentoring, SCORE also offers free and low-cost educational workshops each year, both online and in-person. SCORE is a resource partner with the U.S. Small Business Administration. It operates out of 300 chapters across the U.S., with national headquarters in Herndon, Virginia.
SCORE's mission is to "foster vibrant small business communities through mentoring and education." The organization's stated vision is that, "Every person has the support necessary to thrive as a small business owner." SCORE's official values are: "Clients Matter," "Small Business Matters," "Giving Back Matters," "Volunteers Matter," "Experience Matters," "Relationships Matter," "Diversity Matters," and "Lifelong Learning Matters."
Since its founding in 1964, SCORE (then called the Service Corps of Retired Executives) has served more than 11 million clients (as of September 30, 2017). In the 1970s, when SCORE chapters were first formed, the organization expanded its services to offer workshops and seminars on a variety of business topics. In 1996, SCORE began providing small business advice via email.
SCORE's core service offering is its small business mentoring program, through which volunteer mentors (all experienced in entrepreneurship and related areas of expertise) provide free counsel to small business clients. Mentors work with their clients to address issues and learn best practices related to starting and growing a business, including writing business plans, developing products, conceiving marketing strategies and hiring staff. Clients access their mentors via free, ongoing face-to-face mentoring sessions or through email or video mentoring services.
SCORE has 300 chapters throughout the United States and its territories, and more than 10,000 volunteers. Many local chapters also have multiple branch locations throughout the regions they serve.
Local workshops and seminars
Many local SCORE chapters hold free or low-cost in-person workshops covering a variety of topics (e.g., "Simple Steps to Starting Your Business," "Owning and Operating a Franchise in Miami," "How to Start a Restaurant and Food Truck Business," etc.). In 2017, 250,448 people attended local SCORE workshops.
SCORE mentors also regularly help run Boots to Business and Boots to Business Reboot, organized by the Small Business Administration (SBA). These training programs cater specifically to veterans who are interested in starting their own businesses.
Online business tools and resources
SCORE's website (www.score.org) houses hundreds of free online resources for entrepreneurs, including webinars, virtual conferences, downloadable tools and templates, and a daily blog. In 2017, SCORE's website had 3,501,999 views.
SCORE's weekly webinars cover a range of how-to topics for small business success, such as online marketing, budgeting, and business planning. Webinar registrants can watch the session live, or a view a recording later. Upcoming SCORE webinar titles can be found at www.score.org/live-webinars, while past webinar recordings are housed at www.score.org/recorded-webinars. There were 147,519 total online workshop attendees in 2017.
SCORE's expert mentors have acted as sources for many national media outlets, including:
- Forbes ("The Secret Of Writing A Successful Business Plan: Don't Be Generic")
- Inc. ("How to Create a Great Product Without Hiring a Team")
- Newsday ("The business case for corporate social responsibility")
SCORE clients have also been profiled in major publications such as:
- The Washington Post ("Can flotation therapy de-stress D.C.’s compulsive elites?")
- Forbes ("Quit Your Job And Travel: Tips From 4 Women Whose Vacation Led To A New Career")
- The Wall Street Journal ("Funding Sources Shift for Startups")