WASHINGTON, D.C. – (September 15, 2021) Today, Mastercard announced a $5 million grant of support to the campaign to develop the Center for Black Entrepreneurship (CBE), a university-level program that will help assemble, educate, and empower a new generation of Black entrepreneurial talent. In partnership with the Black Economic Alliance (BEA) Foundation, a leading national organization promoting economic mobility and prosperity for Black Americans, Morehouse College and Spelman College are in the process of establishing the CBE with financial support and thought partnership from a growing coalition of committed corporate partners, including Mastercard, Bank of America, and others.
The CBE will eliminate opportunity gaps between Black entrepreneurs, professional investors, and business builders by leveraging education, mentorship, access to capital, and opportunity. Mastercard’s grant will support the hiring of adjunct faculty, the creation of an online entrepreneurship program, experiential courses, and pitch competitions that will enable students to put their classroom instruction in practice.
In addition to the grant, Mastercard will provide in-kind support, such as digital technology training and access to Start Path, the company’s global start-up engagement program created to help the best and brightest later stage start-ups maximize their opportunity for success. This partnership comes at an exciting time when students at the Atlanta University Center (AUC) are returning to campus in person for the first time in over a year and kicking off CBE-related curriculum as well as co-curricular programming that will expand the reach of the CBE beyond the four schools at the AUC to the entire Atlanta metro region and beyond.
“Long-term investment in Black entrepreneurs is critical to driving equitable and sustainable economic growth for local economies and the U.S. economy alike,” said David Clunie, Executive Director of the Black Economic Alliance. “The Center for Black Entrepreneurship will create an ecosystem of opportunity and investment that will catalyze the multiplier effect of generating more Black founders who hire more Black employees and re-invest in more Black businesses and Black communities. We appreciate Mastercard’s thoughtful partnership in this endeavor and their commitment to supporting inclusive economic growth.”
“That Black founders historically have received only 1% of venture capital financing is not an issue of Black talent, but of systemic barriers. The Center for Black Entrepreneurship is a model for how we break down those barriers and build the Black generational wealth that is essential to the health of our nation’s economy,” said Samantha Tweedy, President of the Black Economic Alliance Foundation. “The BEA Foundation is grateful to Mastercard and all of our funding partners for investing in Morehouse and Spelman’s strong culture of entrepreneurship to support the next generation of Black talent.”
“For over a century, HBCUs have played a critical role in nurturing professional talent and creating economic mobility in Black communities,” said Salah Goss, Senior Vice President for Social Impact at the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth. “By investing in HBCUs, Mastercard is intentionally choosing key institutions who we believe can be catalytic in furthering our commitment to ensuring that the digital economy works for the Black community, and for everyone, everywhere.”
The CBE will be located on the campuses of Spelman College and Morehouse College in southwest Atlanta. Spelman plans to house it in its new academic facility, the Center for Innovation & the Arts, and Morehouse will house it within a new facility on campus. The Atlanta metro area is home to 57 colleges and universities and over 100,000 Black-owned businesses, making it a hub for Black students and entrepreneurs. Despite Atlanta being the ninth-largest metro area in the country and housing the second-largest population of Black people in America, there is a significant disconnect between venture capital firms that are traditionally West Coast-based and emerging Black student entrepreneurs, who are disproportionately located on the East Coast and in the South.
“We are excited by the possibility of building an entrepreneurship curriculum within our outstanding department of economics,” said Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D., President of Spelman. “Through the support of Mastercard, the College will be able to build curricular and co-curricular strength that encourages and supports AUC students intent on the creation and sustainability of new businesses that will ultimately create wealth within our communities.”
“The Morehouse mission is to help students develop the type of leadership and service qualities embodied in entrepreneurs and other visionaries,” said David A. Thomas, Ph.D., Morehouse College President. “The support from Mastercard will empower innovators to disrupt the status quo and move their ideas from concept to market, even as they create economic opportunities in the communities they serve.”
In addition to the CBE, the BEA Foundation launched the Black Economic Alliance Entrepreneurs Fund (BEA Entrepreneurs Fund) earlier this year to accelerate the growth of Black entrepreneurs and businesses. Anchored by Wells Fargo, the $50 million evergreen fund will provide seed, start-up, and early-stage capital to businesses founded and led by Black entrepreneurs. A portion of the BEA Entrepreneurs Fund will be earmarked to invest in CBE participants.
The CBE was initially powered by $10 million in seed funding from Bank of America, which is supporting the development of an academic curriculum, faculty recruitment, and co-curricular programming. The CBE continues to attract funding and partnership from businesses across industries, leading investors, and the most successful entrepreneurs to support the CBE with capital, networks, and mentorship. The BEA Foundation continues to solicit and onboard the right funding and thought partners to create a best-in-class ecosystem of exposure, support, and investment in Black entrepreneurs. To learn more about the CBE or how you can support its development, visit the BEA Foundation website.
About the Black Economic Alliance Foundation
The BEA Foundation works with leaders in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors to produce, research, and analyze data to diagnose the obstacles to Black economic mobility and prescribe practical solutions to create better access to good-paying jobs, a living wage, and wealth creation for Black people. The BEA Foundation also crafts programs that convene leaders across industries around initiatives that will produce better economic outcomes for Black people. The BEA Foundation is the 501c3 charitable nonprofit affiliate of the Black Economic Alliance. The Black Economic Alliance is a coalition of Black business leaders and allies committed to driving economic progress for the Black community with a focus on work, wages, and wealth. For more information, visit: foundation.blackeconomicalliance.org
About the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth
The Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth advances equitable and sustainable economic growth and financial inclusion around the world. The Center leverages the company’s core assets and competencies, including data insights, expertise and technology, while administering the philanthropic Mastercard Impact Fund, to produce independent research, scale global programs and empower a community of thinkers, leaders and doers on the front lines of inclusive growth. For more information and to receive its latest insights, follow the Center on Twitter and LinkedIn, and subscribe to its newsletter.
About Morehouse College
Morehouse College is the only historically Black college dedicated to educating men. Founded in 1867, Morehouse is a private, liberal arts institution and the nation’s top producer of Black men who go on to receive doctorates. The College is the top producer of Rhodes Scholars among HBCUs and was named to the list of U.S. institutions that produced the most Fulbright Scholars in 2019-2020. As the epicenter for thought leadership on civil rights, Morehouse is committed to helping the nation address the inequities caused by institutional racism, which has created social and economic disparities for people of African descent. Prominent Morehouse alumni include: Martin Luther King Jr., Nobel Peace Prize Laureate; Dr. David Satcher, former U.S. Surgeon General; Shelton “Spike” Lee, Academy Award-winning American filmmaker; Maynard H. Jackson, the first African American mayor of Atlanta; Jeh Johnson, former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security; Louis W. Sullivan, former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services; Bakari Sellers, attorney and CNN political analyst; Randall Woodfin, elected as the youngest mayor of Birmingham in 120 years; and U.S. Senator Raphael Warnock, Georgia’s first Black U.S. senator from Georgia. For more information, visit: https://morehouse.edu.
About Spelman College
Founded in 1881, Spelman College is a leading liberal arts college widely recognized as the global leader in the education of women of African descent. Located in Atlanta, the College’s picturesque campus is home to 2,100 students. Spelman is the country’s leading producer of Black women who complete Ph.D.s in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The College’s status is confirmed by U.S. News & World Report, which ranked Spelman No. 54 among all liberal arts colleges, No. 19 for undergraduate teaching, No. 4 for social mobility among liberal arts colleges, and No. 1 for the 14th year among historically Black colleges and universities. The Wall Street Journal ranked the College No. 3, nationally, in terms of student satisfaction. Recent initiatives include a designation by the Department of Defense as a Center of Excellence for Minority Women in STEM, a Gender and Sexuality Studies Institute, the first endowed queer studies chair at an HBCU, and a program to increase the number of Black women Ph.D.s in economics. New majors have been added, including documentary filmmaking and photography, and partnerships have been established with MIT’s Media Lab, the Broad Institute and the Army Research Lab for artificial intelligence and machine learning. Outstanding alumnae include Children’s Defense Fund founder Marian Wright Edelman, Starbucks Group President and COO Rosalind Brewer, political leader Stacey Abrams, former Acting Surgeon General and Spelman’s first alumna president Audrey Forbes Manley, actress and producer Latanya Richardson Jackson, global bioinformatics geneticist Janina Jeff and authors Pearl Cleage and Tayari Jones. For more information, visit www.spelman.edu.