News & Insights

NC IDEA and the North Carolina Black Entrepreneurship Council Announce Eight ECOSYSTEM Grant Recipients

Over $360,000 in Grants Awarded to Elevate Black Entrepreneurship in North Carolina

 DURHAM, NC – December 15, 2020 – NC IDEA, a private foundation committed to supporting entrepreneurial ambition and economic empowerment in North Carolina, alongside the leadership of the North Carolina Black Entrepreneurship Council (NC BEC), announced today that the organization has awarded over $360,000 in NC BEC ECOSYSTEM grants to eight partners throughout the state executing on innovative and transformational ideas that will elevate Black Entrepreneurship.

“Under the leadership of the NC Black Entrepreneurship Council and just months after its formation, our call to fund organizations supporting more Black people in their ambition to start and scale growth-oriented companies drew an incredible response,” said Thom Ruhe, CEO and President of NC IDEA. “Equitable entrepreneurship is vital to our economic recovery. Partnering with these eight worthy recipients, creates greater opportunity to economically empower Black people with entrepreneurship, and collectively work to combat inequalities that perpetuate racial imbalances. I hope we can convince more funding partners to support this important work, thereby funding many more of the requests we received,” Ruhe concluded.

The eight new NC BEC ECOSYSTEM grant recipients are:


These grant recipients were chosen from an astounding 140 competitive applications received from organizations doing incredibly important work across the state serving the entrepreneurial aspirations and economic potential of North Carolina’s Black community, less than four months after the formation of the NC BEC. Applications were accepted from 501(c)(3) and for profit organizations within North Carolina in service to, or with programs specifically focused on, helping Black entrepreneurs and growth-oriented Black-owned firms start and grow scalable businesses. All grant dollars are required to be allocated toward specific programs and activities serving the Black entrepreneurial community of North Carolina.

Last week, NC IDEA announced nearly $1.5 million in grants awarded to 17 partners under its broader ECOSYSTEM grant program. The NC IDEA ECOSYSTEM grant program is designed to identify and support partner organizations across the state executing creative programs to support entrepreneurs. Working in partnership with others provides the opportunity to foster relationships and create dialog between partners, while allowing a better understanding of how we may (collectively) support more people in their ambition to start and grow companies that will strengthen the economy of North Carolina.

NC IDEA is an independent private foundation committed to empowering North Carolinians to achieve their entrepreneurial potential. Through our powerful combination of competitive grants and programs, and a network of strategic partners, we help entrepreneurs when they need it most. NC IDEA’s resources are highly competitive, enabling the foundation to support North Carolina’s most ambitious entrepreneurs. We believe entrepreneurs transform communities and view our work as a catalyst for positive change. Learn more at