A new center for training Black entrepreneurs will be opening in Atlanta as part of a collaboration announced Monday among Spelman College, Morehouse College and an advocacy organization made up of business leaders.
The Center for Black Entrepreneurship is expected to start operating for the fall 2021 semester. Details of the collaboration were shared with the Associated Press ahead of the announcement.
“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,” said David Clunie, executive director of the Black Economic Alliance, the advocacy group involved. “We need to give them the education, resources and opportunities they need to really succeed.”
The center will be housed in Spelman's new Center for Innovation & the Arts as well and a new building at Morehouse. It will include a core curriculum on business development, speakers, mentorship opportunities and chances to connect with investors for the historically Black colleges and universities that make up the Atlanta University Center Consortium – Spelman College, Morehouse College, Morehouse School of Medicine and Clark Atlanta University.
In addition to the in-person instruction for students at these HBCUs, an online program also will be available to the general public and provide certifications in project management, cybersecurity and other business-related topics.
James Johnson Jr., a professor of strategy and entrepreneurship in the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, said a well-planned entrepreneurship center can be a step toward addressing the systemic barriers Black entrepreneurs face– reduced access to capital, networking opportunities.
The center will be funded in part by a $10 million grant from Bank of America to support curriculum development, faculty recruitment and co-curricular programming as part of its $1 billion racial equity fund.