Photo: Clark Atlanta University
This has been a good week for HBCUs. Earlier this week, the UNCF announced awarding $35 million dollars to 24 HBCUs and PBIs to help lower the unemployment rate for black college grads. And now we've learned that the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, Penny Pritzker, awarded Clark Atlanta University $432,335 under the Economic Development Administration’s Regional Innovation Strategies Program. CAU is the first southern HBCU to be selected, and is one of only 35 organizations selected. These funds are set to help CAU launch the Clark Russell Entrepreneurship and Technology Ecosystem (CREATE).
CREATE is a partnership between Clark Atlanta, the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), the Herman J. Russell Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the Truly Living Well Center for Natural Urban Agriculture. Using innovative STEM-based tools, CREATE has set a goal of supporting 50 new entrepreneurs as they create 400 jobs in local food system technology enterprises.The program will help to change the economic landscape in Southwest Atlanta and encourage inclusive entrepreneurship. CREATE merges together the best assets of each partner organization, which in turn gives entrepreneurs access to Clark Atlanta's research and its 3D-printing lab, access to urban farming innovations and more.
The program aligns with the vision of Ronald Johnson, CAU President. Johnson wants to transform the areas around the Atlanta University Center and invite innovation and entrepreneurship to the area.
“It is troublesome that the community surrounding a world-renown bastion of scholarship and enlightenment has, in so many ways, been forgotten and is too often considered a ‘food desert’ and a ‘crime zone’,” Johnson said in the University press release. “CREATE will directly address those issues by deploying CAU’s intellectual, research and entrepreneurial assets in partnership with two outstanding organizations, RCIE and TLW, that have consistently demonstrated their commitment and expertise in enhancing peoples’ quality of life. This initiative will address the underlying issues of employment, food security and urban development, and it also represents our willingness to lock arms with the very neighborhoods that have lifted up our University community for over 150 years.”
It's great to see an HBCU leading the charge to help those in the communities surrounding it. The CREATE program is sure to have a lasting effect on the surrounding neighborhoods.