The five-year grant will be used to create The Howard University and PNC National Center for Entrepreneurship, per a news release. The charitable arm of PNC Financial Services Group, the PNC Foundation, receives its principal funding from the banking giant.
“This is a huge investment by PNC, and it’s going to have a tremendous impact to address Black wealth and Black businesses,” Anthony Wilbon, dean of Howard’s business school, said in an official statement.
The new center will be based on Howard’s campus in Washington, D.C. The university will reportedly work with other universities (HBCUs) to have a nationwide reach. Morgan State, Clark Atlanta University, and Texas Southern University will team with Howard as regional partners.
A big focus will be expanding access to entrepreneurship opportunities by engaging students, business owners, and communities of color to grow their enterprises.
“Many HBCUs are already engaged in activities designed to enhance Black entrepreneurship within the university and within their immediate communities,” Wayne A. I. Frederick, president of Howard University, said. “The Howard University and PNC National Center for Entrepreneurship will leverage those efforts in a more focused and collaborative way to serve as a national resource hub for HBCUs to enhance entrepreneurship education and empower young Black entrepreneurs.”
Another goal for the center is to help build Black small business capacity by leveraging partnerships with local chambers of commerce and other institutions to provide mentorship and networking opportunities.
It also aims to advance Black entrepreneurship by partnering with Black businesses to improve credit, increase access to capital, and offer undergraduate and graduate students hands-on experience in working with Black companies. Other efforts will include providing access to technologies to help boost the success of Black businesses and offer access to universities’ procurement processes.
“We recognize that small businesses are the lifeblood of the U.S. economy, and ensuring the success of Black-, LMI-, minority-, women- and veteran-owned businesses is critical to ensuring a more diverse and inclusive economy,” said PNC Chairman, President, and CEO William S. Demchak. “PNC is bridging some of the divides that Black entrepreneurs face in the basic trade-offs of operating a small business as well as access to capital to enhance or grow their operations.”
PNC is among U.S. banks that have pledged tens of billions of dollars to help address racial inequality after the murder of George Floyd. Pittsburgh-based PNC made a commitment exceeding $1 billion.