Five North Carolina HBCUs will share $2 million in funding from PNC Bank

PNC Bank will awarded more than $2 million to five historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in North Carolina with a goal to create more entrepreneurs who can then create more jobs.

The Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania,-based bank made the announcement Tuesday, saying it had established the “PNC North Carolina HBCU Initiative.”

The three-year grant will fund entrepreneurship resources, curriculums and fellowship opportunities for students at Elizabeth City State University, Fayetteville State University, Johnson C. Smith University, North Carolina Central University and Winston-Salem State University.

“We’re collaborating with these five institutions because we share their vision of advancing inclusive entrepreneurship education and opportunities,” Jim Hansen, PNC regional president for eastern Carolinas, said during a news conference. “At the core, empowering black entrepreneurs translates to business ownership, jobs and wealth creation.”

Individual grants will range from $282,000 to $719,000, based on the scope of each school’s proposal.

JCSU President Clarence Armbrister said the money would help his students and the city of Charlotte.

“There are students out here looking for the opportunity to do this, so this not only enhances their ability to do that but hopefully increases the economic mobility of those in the Charlotte region,” he said.

In addition to the grants made to their schools, students from all five universities will get to participate in a PNC pitch competition, an annual event that allows student-entrepreneurs to showcase their business ideas and marketing skills.

Here’s how the schools will use their grant money:

  • Elizabeth City State will expand its Entrepreneur Lab, which supports students interested in launching and marketing a business. It also will establish a PNC fellowship in entrepreneurship and support Viking Shark Entrepreneurship Week, which allows teams from North Carolina’s HBCUs to practice pitching their business ideas in front of judges.
  • Fayetteville State will support the buildout of its Entrepreneurship Lab (E-Lab), which helps students accelerate ideas and product development. Students will get to compete for E-Lab funding to help fuel their projects. The E-Lab also will provide services to self-employed people in the Fayetteville community.
  • Johnson C. Smith will launch the PNC Entrepreneurship Hub, which will provide “PNC fellows” with space conducive to developing and launching a businesses. The student fellows also will get access to technology, seed funding and mentorship.
  • North Carolina Central will help establish the NCCU Center for Entrepreneurship and Economic Development (CEED), a program that will provide CEED fellows with entrepreneurial and economic development education along with small business finance training, with encouragement to become community development investors.
  • Winston-Salem State will fund development of a PNC Entrepreneurial Fellows Program, which will help selected student learn critical aspects of venture creation by participating in nationally certified programs, workshops, research and one-on-one mentoring with successful North Carolina entrepreneurs.

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