HBCU Johnson C. Smith University Gains $10 Million Commitment From Bank of America

Regarded as one of the top private liberal arts Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in the South, Johnson C. Smith University has reaped a $10 million pledge from Bank of America.

The funds for the multi-year commitment are part of Bank of America’s Mayor’s Racial Equity Initiative in the Charlotte, North Carolina region, per a news release. The pledge is tied to the bank’s larger $1.25 billion, five-year commitment to help advance racial equality and economic opportunity in local communities.

JCSU and Bank of America are based in Charlotte. North Carolina includes 149 colleges and universities and nearly 200,000 Black-owned businesses, making it a hub for Black students and entrepreneurs. Despite Charlotte being the nation’s 23rd largest metro area, officials say there is still a need to connect with venture capital firms. They note those firms are traditionally West Coast-based, and emerging Black student entrepreneurs are disproportionately located on the East Coast and in the South.

Among his comments, JCSU President Clarence D. Armbrister said,  “This gift will allow us to strengthen and expand our business department programs and develop graduates who are prepared for the jobs of the future. The funds will also be used to drive innovation in the development of entrepreneurs in their quests to create generational wealth and break through the limits that have been placed on their move up the ladder of economic mobility.”

The bank disclosed the JCSU pledge is the latest over $25 million worth of recent contributions the nation’s second-largest bank has announced to back its mayor’s initiative in the Charlotte area. They include investing in JCSU; creating Corridors of Opportunity, promoting development within the city’s highest areas of poverty and unemployment and the surrounding communities. They also consist of closing the digital divide; and boosting employer commitment to hiring from a racially diverse pool of candidates.

Keith Cockrell, President of Bank of America Charlotte, stated, “Our long-term relationship with JCSU has set the foundation for this critical moment – a collective partnership among the public and private sectors working to eliminate existing barriers by providing unique opportunities to JCSU students. Together, we will grow a strong pipeline of the next generation of leaders in our area and beyond.”