In its first major initiative, the Black Economic Alliance Foundation is teaming up with Spelman College and Morehouse College to create the Center for Black Entrepreneurship (CBE).
The new center for training black entrepreneurs is expected to open in the fall of 2021. It is part of a collaborative drive between the advocacy group consisting of business leaders and the HBCUs. The CBE will be housed in Spelman’s new Center for Innovation & the Arts along with a new building at Morehouse. The center is anchored by a two-year $10 million anchor grant from Bank of America, the nation’s second-largest bank.
The CBE seeks to eliminate the access barrier between Black entrepreneurs, professional investors, and business builders by leveraging education, mentorship, access to capital, and opportunity, according to a news release. The CBE aims to grow the pipeline of Black business talent and innovation. It hopes to bridge the divide between the business and technology sectors and the next generation of black entrepreneurs.
The Bank of America funding will support the development of an academic curriculum, faculty recruitment, and co-curricular programming. The CBE has attracted funding and business support across industries, leading investors, and successful entrepreneurs to back the center with capital, networks, and mentorship.
The Associated Press reported the center will include a curriculum focused on business development, speakers, mentorship opportunities, and chances to connect with investors for the HBCUs comprise that form the Atlanta University Center Consortium: Spelman College, Morehouse College, Morehouse School of Medicine, and Clark Atlanta University.
Spelman is a private women’s liberal arts college, and Morehouse is a private men’s liberal arts college.
David Clunie, executive director of the Black Economic Alliance, commented to the Associated Press on the initiative.
“In 2020 we saw an acknowledgment from many in the investor community that there needs to be a change, that we need to take a look at these barriers and how they are preventing talented aspiring Black entrepreneurs from reaching their full potential.
“We need to give them the education, resources and opportunities they need to really succeed.”
Speaking for the involved advocacy group, he also stated, “The Center for Black Entrepreneurship will help close the opportunity gaps among industry, the investment community, and Black entrepreneurs.”
Along with direct teaching for HBCU students, the center will include online courses to make parts of the curriculum accessible to offer upskilling training to a broader adult audience. CBE will provide certifications in project management, data science, coding, and cybersecurity to empower Black entrepreneurs with needed technological tools to succeed.
Mary Schmidt Campbell, president of Spelman College, talked about Banks of America’s gifts and how it helps the colleges empower aspiring black entrepreneurs.
“We’ll hire top tier faculty, support our students financially, continue to grow co-curricular programs that offer real world experience, and offer courses online for those adults who are already in the workplace. We appreciate Bank of America for its investment in institutions that affirm 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 adds important capacity to support our work with minority-owned businesses and current or future entrepreneurs who are gaining access to capital, creating jobs, leveraging technology, and developing the products and services that enhance the standard of living for us all.”