Newly established PNC North Carolina HBCU Initiative to help cultivate entrepreneurship resources and opportunities for students at five universities through grant funding

RALEIGH, N.C. – The PNC Foundation is awarding more than $2 million to five Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) 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 be 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.”

The grant recipients will use the funding as follows:

  • Elizabeth City State University: The university will broaden the scope of its current business program portfolio to expand the Entrepreneur Lab, which offers resources and development opportunities for students interested in launching and marketing a business. Additionally, the funding will establish the PNC Entrepreneurship Fellow Program and support Viking Shark Entrepreneurship Week, which provides the opportunity for teams for North Carolina HBCUs to practice pitching their business ideas in front of judges.
  • Fayetteville State University: Funding will support the buildout of the Fayetteville State University Entrepreneurship Lab (E-Lab), an action learning opportunity designed to help students accelerate new ideas and product development. Student entrepreneur teams creating or growing their own ventures may compete for E-Lab funding to help fuel their projects. Additionally, the E-Lab will offer business and economic development support for community members and fosters self-employment opportunities.
  • Johnson C. Smith University: The university will launch the PNC Entrepreneurship Hub, which will provide selected student-entrepreneurs- PNC Fellows – with space that is conducive to developing and launching new businesses. In addition to incubator space, the hub will equip PNC Fellows with access to technology, seed funding and mentorship to help them launch new businesses to take existing businesses to the next level.
  • North Carolina Central University: 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.
  • Winston-Salem State University: The grant will fund the development of the PNC Entrepreneurial Fellows Program, which will help selected students fellows learn critical aspects of new venture creation by participating in nationally certified programs, workshops, research and one-on-one mentoring with successful North Carolina entrepreneurs.

“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.

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