Newly established PNC North Carolina HBCU Initiative to help cultivate entrepreneurship resources and opportunities for students at five universities through grant funding
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.
"Our vision for the Fayetteville State University E-Lab is to develop the entrepreneurs and change agents of tomorrow. Our students are ready and willing to contribute to the economic transformation of southeastern North Carolina and beyond, and we are grateful to the PNC Foundation for recognizing their potential and providing the resources to help make this vision a reality," said FSU Chancellor Darrell T. Allison.
"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."
Fayetteville State University will use the funding as follows:
- 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 foster self-employment opportunities.
"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.
About Fayetteville State University
Fayetteville State University is a constituent institution of The University of North Carolina System and the second-oldest public institution of higher education in the state, having been founded in 1867. FSU is a historically black university offering degrees at the baccalaureate, master's, and doctoral levels. With more than 6,700 students, Fayetteville State University is among the most diverse institutions in the nation. To learn more about Fayetteville State University, visit www.uncfsu.edu.