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New innovation and entrepreneurship program planned at VCU for underrepresented and low-income students

New innovation and entrepreneurship program planned at VCU for underrepresented and low-income students

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A new entrepreneurship and innovation educational program is being planned at VCU’s da Vinci Center for Innovation to serve students from underrepresented populations and low-income families.

Through a new $50,000 grant, the VCU da Vinci Center is partnering with The Jackson Ward Collective, an organization of Black-owned businesses in Richmond, and Activation Capital, an organization that supports entrepreneurs and startup businesses in the Richmond region, to create the VCU Entrepreneurship Academy.

The academy will bring together 150 underrepresented students consisting of first-generation college students and low-income students alongside 50 community members identified by the Jackson Ward Collective and Activation Capital.

This 200-person cohort will engage in four learning modules: design thinking, digital literacy, business model canvas, and the art of the pitch.

“This effort is not only a great skill-building program for students and local entrepreneurs, but it also creates community among a diverse pool of entrepreneurs — strengthening the connective tissue of our ecosystem,” said Chandra Briggman, president and CEO of Activation Capital.

The program coupled with a new entrepreneurship facility called the Student Storefront will create ongoing and sustainable mentorship, networking and employment opportunities.

The academy “is aligned with our overall vision and fosters important conversations about race, equity and opportunity in Richmond and beyond,” said Melody Short, co-founder of The Jackson Ward Collective. “Our ultimate goal is to learn, grow and own in the Black community, and we know that we do that best when we do it together.”

Community members can apply for the program at

The grant money came from the Association of Public & Land-Grant Universities and the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities.


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