The PNC Foundation announced a five-year, $16.8 million grant to create The Howard University and PNC National Center for Entrepreneurship – aimed at building resources and support for Black business owners across the country. The center will support expanded opportunities for Black entrepreneurship with enhanced educational, leadership and capacity-building resources and programs nationwide. All of this furthers PNC’s overall commitment to increase access to financial services and capital in LMI-communities and to Black and minority entrepreneurs and their small businesses.
“We recognize that small businesses are the lifeblood of the U.S. economy, and ensuring the success of Black-, LMI-, minority-, women- and veteran-owned businesses is critical to ensuring a more diverse and inclusive economy,” said PNC chairman, president and CEO, Bill Demchak. “PNC is bridging some of the divides that Black entrepreneurs face in the basic trade-offs of operating a small business as well as access to capital to enhance or grow their operations.”
The PNC Foundation is providing the five-year, $16.8 million grant to Howard University to create a center for entrepreneurship education and research with the goal to serve the nation’s network of 101 historically Black colleges and universities’ (HBCU) and their communities. This grant is part of PNC’s $88 billion Community Benefits Plan announced in April, inclusive of a previously announced commitment of more than $1.5 billion to support the economic empowerment of Black Americans and low- and moderate- income communities. The Community Benefits Plan will provide at least $88 billion in loans, investments and other financial support to benefit low- and moderate-income individuals and communities, people and communities of color, and other underserved individuals and communities over a four-year period.
“We are making significant progress on our commitment to support the economic empowerment of Black Americans and low- to moderate-income communities. The five-year grant to create a nationally recognized Howard University and PNC National Center for Entrepreneurship is a major part of this pledge,” said Richard Bynum, chief corporate responsibility officer for PNC.
The center will be located on Howard University’s campus, but will also include programming at four regional HBCUs, which will coordinate programs, research and other community outreach efforts at partner HBCUs across the country. The center will utilize a regional structure with Howard University, Morgan State University, Clark Atlanta University and Texas Southern University, each leading one of four regions to allow for effective coordination of programs and activities across all HBCUs, including education programs, research strategies and business outreach. A major focus for the center and its regional HBCU partners will be to expand access to entrepreneurship opportunities by engaging students, business owners and communities of color in growing their enterprises, with a goal of increasing employment and wealth for students attending HBCU.
“Many HBCUs are already engaged in activities designed to enhance Black entrepreneurship within the university and within their immediate communities,” said Wayne A. I. Frederick, president of Howard University. “The Howard University and PNC National Center for Entrepreneurship will leverage those efforts in a more focused and collaborative way to serve as a national resource hub for HBCUs to enhance entrepreneurship education and empower young Black entrepreneurs. The center will be an effective champion of interdisciplinary entrepreneurship education and entrepreneurial development within the African-American community. I am grateful to Anthony Wilbon, dean of the Howard University School of Business, as well as to Barron H. Harvey, dean emeritus of the School of Business, for helping bring this idea to fruition. It was truly their vision and leadership that forged this partnership and will enhance entrepreneurial opportunities for aspiring Black business leaders.”
“In addition to enhancing entrepreneurship education, the center will be a significant resource not only to the HBCU institutions, but also to the community at large in innovation, creativity, entrepreneurship, technology commercialization, and regional technological and economic development,” said Bynum. Educational programs, including those focused on leadership development, financial management, technology and entrepreneurship, will be offered at the center as well as through virtual platforms with partner HBCUs.
Another goal of the center will be to help build Black small business capacity by leveraging partnerships with local chambers of commerce and other institutions to provide mentorship and networking opportunities. The center will also partner with Black businesses to improve credit, increase access to capital, provide undergraduate and graduate students hands-on experience in working with Black businesses and entrepreneurs, provide access to technologies that can increase the success of Black businesses, provide access to universities’ procurement process, and assist in applying for loans and access to capital.