ATLANTA (CBS46) — Atlanta-based HBCU's Morehouse College and Spelman College received a $5 million investment from Mastercard to drive innovation and economic inclusion Wednesday. 

According to a press release, Mastercard made the massive investment to develop the Center for Black Entrepreneurship, which will further the development of cutting-edge entrepreneurial programming, thought leadership, networking and academic and mentorship opportunities for aspiring Black entrepreneurs.

The philanthropic funding, delivered by the Mastercard Impact Fund, is reportedly part of Mastercard’s $500 million, five-year In Solidarity commitment to advance racial equity and economic opportunity through city programs to support Black communities, affordable financial tools and services, and expanding access to capital and resources for Black-owned businesses.

With increased funding, HBCUs will be able to scale the already critical role they play in helping to train and develop the next generation of Black entrepreneurs and innovators.

In partnership with the Black Economic Alliance Foundation (BEA), Morehouse College and Spelman College are in the process of establishing the Center for Black Entrepreneurship (CBE) with financial support from Mastercard, among others.

The CBE will help assemble, educate and empower a new generation of Black entrepreneurial talent. Specifically, the CBE will focus on eliminating opportunity gaps between Black entrepreneurs, professional investors and business builders by leveraging education, mentorship and access to capital and opportunity.

The CBE will be located on the campuses of Spelman College and Morehouse College in southwest Atlanta. Spelman plans to house it in its new academic facility, the Center for Innovation & the Arts, and Morehouse will house it within a new facility on campus.

The Atlanta metro area is home to 57 colleges and universities and over 100,000 Black-owned businesses, making it a hub for Black students and entrepreneurs. Despite Atlanta being the ninth-largest metro area in the country and housing the second-largest population of Black people in America, there is a significant disconnect between venture capital firms that are traditionally West Coast-based and emerging Black student entrepreneurs, who are disproportionately located on the East Coast and in the South.

Mastercard’s grant will support the hiring of adjunct faculty, the creation of an online entrepreneurship program, experiential courses and pitch competitions that will enable students to put their classroom instruction in practice. In addition to the grant, Mastercard will provide in-kind support, such as digital technology training and access to Start Path, the company’s global startup engagement program created to help the best and brightest later-stage startups maximize their opportunity for success.

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