In its first major initiative, the Black Economic Alliance Foundation founded the Center for Black Entrepreneurship (CBE) together with Spelman College and Morehouse College.
The new center for training black entrepreneurs is expected to open in autumn 2021. It is part of a collaboration between the advocacy group, consisting of managing directors, and the HBCUs. The CBE, along with a new building in Morehouse, will be housed in the new Spelman Innovation and Art Center. The center is anchored through a two-year $ 10 million anchor grant from Bank of America, the country’s second largest bank.
The CBE is trying to remove the barrier of entry between black entrepreneurs, professional investors and business founders by leveraging education, mentoring, access to capital and opportunity, according to a press release. The CBE aims to expand the pipeline of talent and innovation in the Black Business. She hopes to bridge the gap between the business and technology sectors and the next generation of black entrepreneurs.
Funding from Bank of America will support academic curriculum development, faculty recruitment, and joint programming. The CBE has attracted cross-industry funding and corporate support, leading investors and successful entrepreneurs to support the center with capital, networking and mentoring.
The Associated Press reported that the center will include a curriculum that will focus on business development, speakers, mentoring opportunities, and the ability to connect with investors for the HBCUs that make up the Atlanta University Center consortium: Spelman College, Morehouse College, Morehouse School of Medicine, and Clark Atlanta University.
Spelman is a private liberal arts college for women and Morehouse is a private liberal arts college for men.
David Clunie, Executive Director of the Black Economic Alliance, commented on the initiative for the Associated Press.
“In 2020, many in the investing community recognized that there needs to be a change, that we need to look at these barriers and how they prevent talented aspiring black entrepreneurs from achieving their full potential.
“We have to give them the training, resources and opportunities they need to be truly successful.”
In an interview with the stakeholders involved, he also said: “The Center for Black Entrepreneurship will help close the gaps in opportunities between industry, the investment community and black entrepreneurs.”
In addition to direct teaching for HBCU students, the center will include online courses to make parts of the curriculum accessible and to offer continuing education courses to a wider adult audience. CBE will provide certifications in project management, data science, coding, and cybersecurity to empower black entrepreneurs with the technological tools they need to succeed.
Mary Schmidt Campbell, President of Spelman College, spoke about the gifts from Banks of America and how they help colleges empower aspiring black entrepreneurs.
“We will hire world-class teachers, fund our students, continue to develop co-curriculum programs that provide hands-on experience, and offer online courses for adults already in the workplace. We value Bank of America for investing in institutions that validate identity, history and culture in developing the next generation of black entrepreneurs. “
David Thomas, President of Morehouse College, also commented on the initiative.
“The Center for Entrepreneurship provides vital capabilities to support our work with minority companies and current or future entrepreneurs who gain access to capital, create jobs, use technology, and develop products and services that improve living standards for all of us. ”