The flagship program provides tailored support for HCBU students and alumni exploring the launch of tech-enabled ventures across HBCU campuses and the wider entrepreneurial ecosystem.
The five new HCBUs joining the HBCUFI’s Pre-Accelerator program include Hampton University, Morehouse College, Texas Southern University, Benedict College and Bethune-Cookman University.
Over 750 students and alumni from more than 80 HCBUs have benefited from the Founders Initiative programming, with participants raising over $2 million for their startups.
The HBCUFI’s inaugural 2022 cohort of seven partner HBCUs includes Bowie State Univeristy, Elizabeth City State University, Morgan State University, North Carolina A&T University, Oakwood University, Prairie View A&M University, and Spelman College.
The total number of HBCUFI’s HBCU campus-based chororts is now at 12, and growing, with a waitlist of schools wanting to partner. HBCUFI was already in partnership with HCBU students and alumni seeking to go into entrepreneurship, through its virtual programming offerings.
Partering with HBCUs allows HBCUFI to connect with on-campus ecosystems and host in-person entrepreneurship programs. The wider programming still remains open to students and alumni from across the 100+ HCBUs nation-wide.
“We are pleased to have 5 additional HBCUs join us in fulfilling our mission to ensure that innovative ideas don’t die on the vine because there is no one available to cultivate them,” said HBCUFI President, Marlon Evans. “By providing a structured program that connects our participants with executives and entrepreneurs with deep experience building companies, coupled with providing access to pre-seed funding, HBCUFI is helping to build an unprecedented innovation ecosystem on HBCU campuses.”
Each of the 12 partner HBCUs hosts two eight-week Pre-Accelerators, supporting up to eight startups per cohort. Each startup is comprised of early-stage founders who are past the ideation stage and ready to validate a problem and build MVPs.
Key topics including validating an idea, building a prototype, marketing and branding, legal operations and fundraising will be covered by each Pre-Accelerator program. Weekly virtual cohort sessions will work alongside on-campus activities.
The program will conclude with a pitch competition, where participants will get the chance to win non-dilutive program awards in support of MVP development.
HBCUFI is supported by organizations such as UNCF, AARP, Principal Foundation, Blackstone LaunchPad and the Techstars Foundation: organizations that are committed to diversity and inclusion.
“Working with HBCUFI has proven to be highly advantageous for our organization,” Martin Booker, Program Manager, Financial Resilience Programming at AARP said. “It has provided us with a valuable opportunity to bring our staff together, fostering connections with HBCU student founders and enabling us to offer mentorship opportunities.”
Applications for the fall 2023 Pre-Accelerator program opened on July 1st, and will close on August 6th.
To find out more about the program, and apply visit here.