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HBCU Entrepreneurship Internship
June 7, 2021

GNO, Inc. Partners with Regional HBCUs and Local Startup Community to Create New Entrepreneurship Internship Program

Greater New Orleans, Inc. (GNO, Inc.), in partnership with Xavier University of Louisiana, Dillard University, and Southern University at New Orleans (SUNO), and along with The Idea Village, is pleased to announce the first cohort of participants in the HBCU Entrepreneurship Internship Program.  The goal of the program is to bring together the local startup community to train the next generation of successful entrepreneurs of color, inspire students to become innovative change makers, and increase the innovation capacity of regional startup firms.

“Greater New Orleans has a long history of Black entrepreneurship,” said Michael Hecht, President & CEO of Greater New Orleans, Inc.  “The HBCU Entrepreneurship Internship Program aims to continue and grow this legacy, by giving students from our local HBCU’s paid opportunities to learn how to be successful entrepreneurs, from within our region’s best startups.”

The HBCU Startup Internship pairs 12 selected Juniors and Seniors from the partnering institutions with startup companies in the region who are seeking qualified, diverse talent.

“Throughout their respective histories, HBCUs have prepared and continue to prepare generations of change-makers and leaders,” said Mayor LaToya Cantrell. “The HBCU Entrepreneurship Internship Program is an excellent initiative to give our students opportunities to be in the position to open their own doors for economic success. Since taking office, one of the priorities for my administration has been to ensure that all our residents, especially our young people, are prepared for future employment and are connected to opportunities and industries that allow them to thrive.”

The HBCU Internship participants for Summer 2021 are:

  • Victoria Hardy of Dillard University, interning with Resilia
  • Terrence Gragg II of Dillard University, interning with Broadmoor LLC
  • Lydia Paige Moffett of Dillard University, interning with Square Button
  • Jywana Moore of Dillard University, interning with Torsh
  • Chelsea Mingo of Xavier University, interning with Junum
  • Naomi Winston of Xavier University, interning with Obatala
  • Landan Moore of Xavier University, interning with NOBIC
  • Alayna Prince of Xavier University, interning with rasa.io
  • Brandon Smith of SUNO, interning with Upriver Solutions
  • Tiandra Kaufman of SUNO, interning with Catalyst:Ed
  • Ariel McGruder of SUNO, interning with Lucid
  • Keandra Darjean of SUNO, interning with Lookfar

“Xavier is proud to partner with GNO, Inc. to provide our students with even more excellent opportunities for hands-on experience,” said Reynold Verret, President of Xavier University of Louisiana. “Experiential learning is invaluable to our students who will one day change the world with their ideas and ventures.”

GNO, Inc., through partnership with the Krewe de Nieux, identified 12 startups in the region to host the interns for a 120-hour internship experience that will run from June 7 to July 9, 2021. The companies participating in the program are: Broadmoor LLC, Catalyst: Ed, Junum, Lookfar, Lucid, New Orleans BioInnovation Center, Obatala, rasa.io, Resilia, Square Button, Torsh, and Upriver Solutions. The interns will be paid during their participation.

“My students were excited to be selected for this program,” said Dr. Walter M. Kimbrough, President of Dillard University. “They know that internships are key in providing real-world experience that employers look for beyond earning the degree. This program provides an opportunity not only for HBCU students but for the city to show a tangible investment in diversifying emerging industries and career fields.”

The internship will introduce the students to the entrepreneurial mindset and provide hands-on training in high-impact, real-world entrepreneurship settings.  Participants will develop creative capacity, entrepreneurial confidence, mentorship, and acquire the necessary skills to build scalable startups that solve real problems.

“The willingness of New Orleans-based businesses to host students from the city’s HBCU’s, is a testament to the value of these institutions in growing our workforce and producing competitive talent,” said Dr. James H. Ammons Jr., Chancellor of Southern University at New Orleans.

Each internship cohort launches with a day-long program presented by Idea Village, The HBCU Startup Internship Workshop, to provide students with an interactive startup intensive that will provide an accelerated opportunity to learn what it takes to be a successful startup founder.

“By investing in these incredible students we are planting the seeds of the next generation of entrepreneurs,” said Jon Atkinson, CEO of The Idea Village.  Innovative companies are built by teams and joining the team of a startup ‘rocket ship’ at an inflection point provides invaluable experience with the potential to shape an individual’s career trajectory in very positive ways.  New Orleans has an opportunity to build our tech ecosystem and startup community differently and with a more intentional lens on diversity. To do so we need to bring more people to the table and create more entry points.  We applaud GNO, Inc.’s leadership in bringing this initiative together.”

The internship experience will also include a workshop, The Nuts and Bolts of Launching a Startup, sponsored by Phelps Dunbar, which will offer practical guidance on the legal aspects of business formation and intellectual property, as well as a presentation by a local creative marketing agency on branding and marketing.

“Phelps is proud to play a role in helping the next generation of entrepreneurs launch their careers in New Orleans,” said Kim Boyle, partner in Phelps Dunbar’s New Orleans office. “This program is another example of the investment our HBCUs make in their students’ talent and ambition, and we’re honored to join them in supporting the young professionals that will lead the way toward innovation in our community.”

The HBCU Entrepreneurship Internship Program is part of GNO, Inc.’s Economic Mobility Strategy, which focuses on action-oriented initiatives to promote Black wealth creation in Greater New Orleans. The program is also part of GNO, Inc.’s effort to increase regional opportunities for paid internships in the Greater New Orleans Region. GNO, Inc. is grateful to The RosaMary Foundation for a 2021 grant to support this capacity building initiative.