The PNC Foundation is awarding more than $2 million to five Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in North Carolina to establish the PNC North Carolina HBCU Initiative, an effort that aims to enrich the future of entrepreneurship and create workforce opportunities in the state.
The grants will be distributed over a three-year period to help fund the development and delivery of entrepreneurship resources and programming for students at Elizabeth City State University, Fayetteville State University, Johnson C. Smith University, North Carolina Central University and Winston-Salem State University – institutions that play an integral role in cultivating Black business leaders and fostering wealth creation in Black communities.
“At PNC, we recognize how important HBCUs are to our state’s success,” said Weston Andress, PNC regional president for Western Carolinas. “HBCU graduates contribute significantly to the talent pipeline that is fueling North Carolina’s economy, and these institutions are foundational to shaping the workforce North Carolina needs to remain competitive in business.”
With an emphasis on entrepreneurship and economic empowerment, the PNC North Carolina HBCU Initiative will enable grantee institutions to enhance their respective entrepreneurship curricula and offerings – from the introduction of new programs, to capacity-building opportunities, to technology enhancements. Additionally, students from all five schools will have the opportunity to participate in the PNC Pitch Competition, an annual forum where student-entrepreneurs can showcase innovative ideas and demonstrate their marketing skills.
“PNC shares with these institutions a vision for advancing inclusive entrepreneurship education and opportunities,” said Jim Hansen, PNC regional president for Eastern Carolinas. “This initiative is the latest example of our ongoing support for North Carolina HBCUs, which over the years has included grant funding, mentorship programs and financial literacy education. We look forward to joining student-entrepreneurs and their campus communities on this meaningful, three-year journey.”
At NCCU, the grant funding will help establish the North Carolina Central University Center for Entrepreneurship and Economic Development (CEED), a university-based program that will provide CEED Student Fellows with entrepreneurial and community economic development education and comprehensive small business finance training, with the encouragement to become community development investors.
“Our students are driven, and they care deeply about our community and making it a better place. This program will extend beyond the classroom to bring entrepreneurship and community development to life in a new and tangible way, while providing practical training and tools for effecting significant community impact," said Johnson O. Akinleye, Ph.D., chancellor of NCCU. "We are grateful to PNC for its ongoing support and for this generous grant, which will help us further empower our students and prepare them for lives of service.”
“While entrepreneurship is the central focus of the PNC North Carolina HBCU Initiative, each grantee is approaching the scope of their projects differently to meet the needs and opportunities unique to each institution,” said Lori Jones Gibbs, PNC Community Development Banking market manager for the Carolinas. “This initiative underscores the many creative ways entrepreneurship is coming to life for North Carolina students.”
These grants align with PNC’s support for HBCUs throughout the country and complement the ongoing development of the Howard University and PNC National Center for Entrepreneurship. Additionally, this funding is part of PNC’s nationwide $88 billion Community Benefits Plan, which is inclusive of a previously announced commitment of more than $1 billion to support the economic empowerment of Black and low- and moderate-income communities.
To read the PNC Foundation release in its entirety, please visit https://pnc.mediaroom.com/2022-02-01-PNC-Foundation-Commits-2-Million-to-Advance-Black-Entrepreneurship-in-North-Carolina.