Morehouse, Spelman will receive Black entrepreneurship grant from Mastercard

The $5 million initiative will create on-campus centers to support and foster the entrepreneurial mindset of young Black students

Mastercard announced on Wednesday that it would be giving $5 million dollars in grants to Morehouse College and Spelman College to help the universities develop Black entrepreneurship centers.

The multinational financial service company said the grants are a part of its 2020 pledge to invest $500 million to help close the racial wealth and opportunity gap for Black communities across America.

The company stated that historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) play a critical role in helping to train and develop Black entrepreneurs and are in a “unique position” to engage the Black community across different generations.

“For over a century, HBCUs have played a critical role in nurturing professional talent and creating economic mobility in Black communities,” said senior vice president for social impact at Mastercard, Salah Goss

The money will be used to build Centers for Black Entrepreneurship (CBEs) on campus aimed at eliminating opportunity gaps by leveraging education, mentorship and access to capital for incoming Black entrepreneurs.

“By investing in HBCUs, Mastercard is intentionally choosing key institutions who we believe can be catalytic in furthering our commitment to ensuring that the digital economy works for the Black community, and for everyone, everywhere,” Goss continued.

In the wake of the widespread calls for racial justice that arose after the summer of protests in 2020, many companies have committed to not only support Black communities, but also invest in initiatives that will create a more equitable environment for all.

Companies to likes of Apple, Target, Facebook and other top corporations joined a $50 billion pledge in 2020 toward racial equity, committing to donate to civil rights organizations and invest in communities of color.

Since then, the majority of the funding has come from two banks — J.P Morgan Chase and Bank of America — with the other companies either have given marginal amounts or none at all.

“Because these are pledges, there isn’t any one entity that will be holding these organizations accountable,” said associate dean at Indiana University, Una Osili, to the Washington Post. 

In addition, some companies have pledged to increase the number of Black employee in their ranks, while others push back on calls to publish diversity reports.

“I wonder about the follow-through — whether the will, will be there in three to four years to continue to lift up these issues,” Osili added.

Spelman College instructors informed students Thursday that they will no longer be teaching in-person classes because the institution has not provided “clear and enforceable” safety guidelines amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Marcus Ingram/Getty Images)

Mastercard said they are dedicated to designing programs that will have a transformational impact on the economic growth of Black communities.

The company said that the CBEs at Spelman and Morehouse will be located in new facilities on both campuses — which are nestled in the second-most densely populated city in terms of Black American population: Atlanta.

The grant will also support the hiring of faculty, an online program, experiential courses and a pitch competition, as well as digital training and access to the company’s global startup engagement program.

Mastercard has partnered with the Black Economic Alliance Foundation (BEA), a non-profit that supports and advocates for the economic progress and prosperity in the Black community, for this initiative.

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