Pharrell Williams launches third annual Black Ambition project

Now in its third year, Pharrell Williams' nonprofit organization Black Ambition continues to open doors of opportunity for Black and brown entrepreneurs.

2023 is already gearing up to be a busy year for award-winning artist and full-scope creative Pharrell Williams. Just weeks after announcing his new position as Louis Vuitton’s menswear creative director, Williams continues his efforts to uplift Black and brown communities through the Black Ambition project. 

Pharell Williams, The Black Ambition Project, initiative for Black entrepreneurs, Black entrepreneurship, Ressources for Black entrepreneurs, funding for Black founders
(Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images)

“We’ve accomplished so much in such a short time, and it’s been amazing to see our impact so far. Every year just gets better,” said Williams in a press release. “It’s not just about creating space for our Black, Hispanic, and HBCU entrepreneurs. It’s about equity; it’s about giving them the tools, resources, and hands-on mentorship to excel uninterrupted. I am constantly blown away by the ideas and businesses that our applicants have developed and created.”

Since its founding in 2020, Black Ambition has worked to empower Black and Hispanic innovators to excel unapologetically and without interruption by awarding approximately $6 million to 65 creative entrepreneurs. Today, the brand aims to further level the playing field, especially after a reported 45% decrease in financing for Black entrepreneurs in 2022. Through its annual Black Ambition Prize Competition, the organization offers founders across industries up to $3 million in prize money. This year, the grand prize winner will receive a $1 million prize, while at least 15 other teams will receive monetary awards ranging from $15,000 to $250,000. 

In addition to the financial support, innovators in consumer products and services, media and entertainment, healthcare, technology, and Web 3.0 industries will be awarded resources and mentorship. From connections with investors to biweekly office hours with industry leaders from major companies like Snapchat and Netflix, award recipients get exclusive access to tools needed to grow as a professional, including town hall meetings with Williams, life coaching, and both group-style and one-on-one workshops. 

This year, Black Ambition will also provide a unique Black Ambition Prize application track for HBCU students and alums, with the opportunity to win up to $200,000 through the HBCU Prize. Besides the grand prize, the HBCU track will award smaller prizes to HBCU affiliate teams, including at least one current HBCU undergraduate or graduate student (full-time or part-time), one recent alum within five years of graduation, or one former student within five years of attending the institution who is a member of the founding team to be eligible. 

“As we approach year three of the Black Ambition Prize, we continue to build on our legacy of supporting and empowering Black and Hispanic entrepreneurs to achieve unparalleled success. This year presents even greater urgency with reports showing a drastic decline in funding for diverse founders in the venture space,” said Felecia Hatcher, chief executive officer of Black Ambition, per the press release. “The work that we’re doing is more important than ever. This year’s prize is designed to provide a plethora of resources and opportunities to Black, Hispanic, and HBCU founders, allowing them to transform their innovative ideas into successful and impactful businesses.” 

Seeking founders who think big and are building the world-changing companies of tomorrow, Black Ambition Prize applicants must already have or aspire to achieve a national or global business reach for their product and or service and have at least one founder or co-founder that identifies as Black/African/African American and/or Hispanic/Latino/a/Latinx. Competition applications are currently open and close on May 8, 2023. 

Similarly, HBCU-affiliated applicants must identify as Black/African/African American and/or Hispanic/Latino/a/Latinx. Black Ambition is also partnering with 3Day StartUp and Cinematic Labs for an eight-week “So Ambitious HBCU Applications Pre-Accelerator Program” to help 100 HBCU students create compelling Black Ambition Prize applications. Applications for the pre-accelerator program close on March 20.

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