“Black Ambition” is more than just a hit song from Pharrell and JAY Z.

Pharrell Williams is taking the meaning behind the song to new heights — and Black and Latinx founders will get to reap the benefits. He announced today a new non-profit initiative that will provide a bridge to success for entrepreneurs who are launching tech, design, healthcare and consumer products/services start-ups.

Talking about his inspiration behind the initiative during a virtual press conference, Williams stated that this is to give a voice to underserved communities. “We need a voice,” he said.” We have the smallest slice of the American pie, in terms of ownership. The Asian dollar stays in this community for about 30 days; our Jewish brothers and sisters, their dollar stays in every community for 20 days. The African-American dollar stays in its community for six hours, because we don’t own much.”

As part of the launch, Williams announced two prize competitions – The Black Ambition HBCU Prize and The Black Ambition Prize – which culminate in one major national event. In July 2021, the two competitions will culminate in teams competing for these prizes by presenting to luminary judges and investors. 

“Recent events and tragedies have illustrated the always existent stark divisions in the American experience, and while entrepreneurship has long been a tenet of the American dream, marginalized people have faced long-standing barriers to success,” Williams said in a statement. “With Black Ambition, the goal is to help strengthen the pipeline of talented entrepreneurs and close the opportunity and wealth gaps derived from limited access to capital and resources.”

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Willa Seldon, senior advisor for Black Ambition and partner at Bridgespan, continued to express the excitement behind the initiative. “We want to highlight the fact that it’s a huge market opportunity,” he said. “Black and Latinx folks spent $3 trillion in the marketplace. That’s a market that’s worth investing in.”

In partnership with HBCUs, The Black Ambition HBCU Prize will offer prizes and mentorship for current and former students at HBCUs as they develop seed or early-stage ideas and launch companies in tech, design, healthcare, and consumer products and services. The grand prize winner will receive up to a $250,000 prize and at least nine additional teams will receive smaller prizes. 

For more information on Black Ambition, competition eligibility, and how to apply, please visit www.blackambitionprize.com.

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