Sixty students from 16 Historically Black Colleges and Universities competed for around $200,000 in scholarships at the 5th Annual Moguls in the Making HBCU entrepreneurial competition that took place in Charlotte, NC the previous weekend.

Among these HBCUs, the top three spots were bagged by N.C. A&T State University (1st Place), N.C. Central University (2nd Place) and TSU (3rd Place).

The competition, hosted by Ally Financial with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, delved into solutions to address challenges to economic mobility with relevant business skills.

“Moguls in the Making is an important initiative that is helping to bridge the racial wealth gap and support high achieving students by creating opportunities to gain hands-on business experience,” Dr. Harry L. Williams, president and CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund said in a statement.

The students toured Charlotte to learn about the challenges faced by the city’s communities and were then asked to formulate a business plan to support economic mobility in the area. The teams were given awards and scholarships based on their pitches.

TSU team members each received a $5,000 scholarship. Their pitch suggested Queensville, a grocery store that is centered in the community, could be positioned to promote economic mobility for residents whose access to essential items is limited. This store, in theory, could provide jobs, give employees the option of a wage-to-profit (W2P) program and also provide financial literacy training and education.

The TSU team members, Quentin Bellard, Kendell Jenkins, Kamaria Marshall and Katelayn Vault, belong to various schools and pursuing various majors at TSU.

“Programs like this provide access and opportunities for HBCU students to learn core business and entrepreneurial skills and help to build an early talent pipeline with bright, passionate and creative individuals who will be our future leaders,” Ally Financial CEO Jeffrey J. Brown said.

TSU’s loan forgiveness initiative

This is not the only time TSU has been in the headlines this month. The university forgave the student balances of more than 2,000 students. While the federal funds forgave the loans of 900 students who registered for the fall semester, the university settled the debts of another 879 students.

The university had surplus money from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds grant – part of the CARES Act – it received during the COVID-19 pandemic and used it to invest $2.3 million for student debt forgiveness.

The news came with the pledge of forgiving the student account balances of an additional 200+ students who completed their coursework the previous academic year, allowing them to receive their diplomas and official transcripts that were previously withheld due to unpaid finances.

“For many students from traditionally underrepresented groups, one of the major reasons they don’t progress in their education journey is finances,” provost Carl Goodman said in a statement.

TSU excluded from legislative funding

While the university is taking steps to forgive loans, it will begin the new academic year with a record 9,000 students enrolled. However, without access to the Texas University Fund, a $3 billion investment pool for the state’s emerging public research universities, any and every scholarship TSU students can access become literal lifelines for their continued studies.

TSU does not qualify for the fund because it is not considered a research institution by the higher education board, a label the university disagrees with. And the success of the TSU team members at the 5th Annual Moguls in the Making HBCU entrepreneurial competition shows the intellect, ingenuity, creativity and work ethic are present, thanks in part to the incredible faculty and research that continues to take place at the school.