Big Sean discusses HBCUs and Moguls in the Making program

The Detroit rapper says working with Historically Black Colleges and Universities is a dream come true.

When it comes to giving back and making space for the next generation, Grammy-nominated rapper and music mogul Big Sean has made that a huge part of his platform. 

He is the founder of the Sean Anderson Foundation. His mother Myra Anderson serves as the executive director and president. Through the foundation, Big Sean provides a variety of services and resources to youth in the Detroit community and beyond.

In 2019, the foundation teamed up with Ally Financial Inc. and the Thurgood Marshall Foundation to launch Moguls in the Making, an entrepreneurial program specifically targeting students attending HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities). TheGrio caught up with the rapper to discuss the program, HBCUs in general and how the students have inspired him.

2019 Roc Nation THE BRUNCH - Inside
Big Sean, seen here attending the 2019 Roc Nation brunch in Los Angeles, has teamed up with Ally Financial Inc. and the Thurgood Marshall Foundation through his Sean Anderson Foundation to launch Moguls in the Makng, an entrepreneurial program specifically targeting students attending HBCUs. (Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for Roc Nation )

“We had a meeting with Ally Financial and they told me what they were trying to do with Thurgood Marshall Foundation,” Big Sean explained about how the partnership formed. “To really just teach kids financial literacy and get them prepared for their careers. And not only just prepare, but so they can overdeliver and really be an asset to the development of businesses.”

Working with HBCUs had always been a dream and this partnership made that dream a reality for the “Deep Reverence” rapper.

“I also was trying to figure out a way to work with HBCUs — so many of my family members and so many beautiful people that I know have gone to HBCUs — and ‘I’m like, OK, we can never downplay or overlook HBCUs because they are creating the leaders of tomorrow for real, and they are Black [leaders], you know all things aside we got to always show love to the HBCUs,” he said, revealing that his first introduction to an HBCU came when his Uncle John attended Howard University, which he himself even considered attending.

Moguls in the Making features 60 students split up into 15 teams for a rigorous, three-day, “Shark Tank”-like experience. The students must pitch an innovative idea for the opportunity to walk away with individual scholarships and more. 

As a mogul himself, Big Sean emphasizes to others the importance of keeping an open mind, keeping it real and showing respect. “Stay open-minded. You never know who is going to be in what position, at what time in life. You know, that one of the important things I learned is to treat people with respect and still be who you are,” he said. 

“Don’t fake who you are, but, show up and be a team player and be authentic. Because you see people go from interns to CEOs. I’ve seen it happen a thousand times. So it’s like, you know, treat people with respect. Treat the janitor the same way you treat the CEO.” 

The Moguls in the Making students — win or lose  — have inspired Big Sean. “They inspired me by just being around them and how they think,” he explained. “I take a little bit away from every student, all the students that I’ve come across and all their projects have been inspirational — just to watch how they work. So it’s a beautiful thing and I’m happy that it’s still going on.” 

Like many competitions, Moguls in the Making crowns only one winning team. Big Sean stressed, however, the importance of members of the losing teams not dwelling on rejections. Instead, his advice is that they view their losses as a form of a win.

“Even if they don’t win, they see who did win and why they won. And they’re able to internalize that and be like, ‘You know what? I get that or, you know, I don’t agree with that because I feel like this could have been like this,’” he said. “It’s just you leave a different person after you experience things like this. And sometimes all it takes is one experience to just light a spark in you or start a fire that takes you to a whole other place. So that’s what I’m most excited about.”

This year’s Moguls in the Making program ended with Morehouse College and Morgan State University students winning scholarships. Applications for next year are expected to open in 2023, and more information about the program can be found here.

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