Black Venture Capital Consortium and Ford Foundation Close $7.5 Million Fund, Led by Students from HBCUs
Fund will serve as a talent pipeline and promote venture capital and entrepreneurship within the Black community.
Today, the Black Venture Capital Consortium and the Ford Foundation announced the closing of a $7.5 million fund, which will be led by students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) across the country. This first of its kind groundbreaking model will serve as a talent pipeline for Black venture capitalists. Students will get the chance to work with, and learn from, experienced venture capitalists in the management and investment decision-making process of the fund. Depelsha McGruder, the chief operating officer of the Ford Foundation, has joined the Board of Trustees of the general partner for the student venture fund.
While the number remains incredibly low in contrast to white business owners, an increasing number of people of color rely on venture capital for early-stage funding to support their companies. Sadly, less than 2% of venture capitalists are people of color which arguably limits the opportunity and full understanding of the value and future success of the businesses owned by diverse entrepreneurs. Additionally, research also shows that white investors tend to be racially biased in their investment decisions and preferences. This unique fund seeks to address both sides of these investment transactions, with the greatest emphasis on increasing the limited number of diverse venture capitalists.
Students from the following HBCUs will work on the fund: Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, Howard University, Morehouse College, Spelman College, Clark Atlanta University, Hampton University, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Prairie View A&M University, and Delaware State University. BVCC looks to expand its reach and work with students from more HBCUs in the future.
Malcolm Robinson, Executive Director of the Black Venture Capital Consortium, said:
“BVCC is excited to launch the HBCU BVCC Student Venture Fund in partnership with the Ford Foundation. The $7.5mm venture fund, a first of its kind for HBCU students, is the final component of BVCC’s comprehensive 2-year venture capital training program. Top HBCU students who work on the student venture fund as well as participate in BVCC’s other training programs will graduate with up to 2 years of venture capital experience. This will allow our students to overcome a huge barrier of entry as venture capital firms don’t usually hire individuals directly from undergraduate programs due to a lack of prior venture capital work experience. We believe that the extended experience students will gain by working on the venture fund during their college career will allow us to place dozens of top HBCU graduates as full-time investment professionals into the venture capital industry annually.”
Depelsha McGruder, Chief Operating Officer, Ford Foundation, said:
“I am thrilled to join the board of the Black Venture Capital Consortium student venture fund and help further their work to increase opportunity for emerging Black investors,” said Depelsha McGruder, chief operating officer for the Ford Foundation. “As a proud graduate of Howard University, I know firsthand the wealth of talent and initiative that exists at Historically Black Colleges and Universities and the transformative impact these students can have on the industry. I cannot wait to see what they produce in the months and years to come.”
Kendall Lemons, Senior student, Prairie View A&M University, said:
“BVCC has been transformative for me in multiple ways. Having the privilege and opportunity to hear from professionals in the venture capital and tech ecosystems has been mind-changing. Beyond receiving rigorous training and knowledge, BVCC has connected me along with other students with venture capital firms for summer internships. In an industry that has historically not been very diverse, breaking into venture capital has been truly life-changing. Now, with the chance to work on the $7.5 million HBCU BVCC Student Venture Fund, the impact will go even deeper. Being an HBCU student, I normally would not have this type of opportunity to work directly for a venture capital fund prior to my graduation. Gaining more investment experience is key to crafting one’s self as a future investor. BVCC is now allowing us to get that experience year-round.”
Mesha Rivers, Law student, Howard University, said:
“BVCC’s program is doing two very life-changing things for myself and many other students. Firstly, it is providing us with access to the extremely lucrative VC and startup ecosystem, where people of color are often underrepresented. It is also providing the education and training necessary to perform at a high level once we are placed into that ecosystem as investment professionals and entrepreneurs. With the establishment of the student fund, we have the opportunity to get even more hands-on experience as investment professionals. By the time we graduate, BVCC has helped us develop key skills and really competitive resumes, positioning us to be successful in the VC industry.”
Brian Swain, Deputy Chief Investment Officer, Howard University, said:
“I would like to applaud BVCC and the Ford Foundation for taking concrete steps towards increasing the diversity of venture capital firm workforces. The creation of a student venture fund will provide practical experience for the amazingly talented students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities.”
Adeyemi Ajao, Managing Partner at Base10 Partners said:
“BVCC is paving the way for a more inclusive venture capital industry in a brilliant but deceptively simple way: by starting with the #1 source of diverse talent in America, HBCUs. This new fund will help to radically shake up many of the structural challenges in venture capital that have previously prevented talented HBCU students from breaking into these notoriously exclusive roles. Base10 is honored to continue our partnership with BVCC to further expand HBCUs’ engagement with venture capital, and get more Black students on the path to founding great multi-billion dollar companies and venture funds of their own.”
About the Black Venture Capital Consortium
The mission of the Black Venture Capital Consortium (BVCC) is to increase the diversity within the venture capital and entrepreneurship ecosystem. We are the largest provider of specialized programming for top HBCU students covering venture capital, entrepreneurship, product management, UX design, software engineering and robotics. We partner with dozens of VC firms and Tech Companies to place top-performing HBCU students that participate in BVCC’s programs as interns and full-time professionals where they gain real-world investing & operating experience and are mentored by notable industry professionals.
The BVCC team is composed of Malcolm Robinson, Executive Director; Alana Hewitt, Managing Director; Adeleke Omitowoju, Managing Director; Ali Aly, Investment Associate and Kali Stitt, Program Manager.
The Board of Trustee members of the general partner of the student venture fund are:
Malcolm Robinson (Chairman) — Executive Director, BVCC
Depelsha McGruder — COO, Ford Foundation
Alana Hewitt — Managing Director, BVCC
Aaron Watkins — President and US GM of Culture Kings and former President of Cupshe
Randall Clark — Partner, Gunderson Dettmer
Kimberly Marshall — Sr Advisor, Goldman Sachs’ Launch with GS
Click here to Sign up for BVCC’s programs that cover: Venture Capital, Entrepreneurship, Product Management, UX Design, SWE and Robotics before September 21.