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Pharrell Williams’ Black Ambition To Award $2.5 Million

by Mike Creef, Staff Writer
Pharrell Williams' Black Ambition To Award $2.5 Million
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Pharrell Williams’ Black Ambition is set to award $2.5 million in prize money to 31 Black and Latino Entrepreneurs at this year’s Mighty Dream Forum.

Black Ambition was launched in December of 2020 by Pharrell Williams in partnership with Adidas, Chanel, The Rockefeller Foundation, and others. It was created for Black and Latino entrepreneurs of tech, design, healthcare, and consumer products/services start-ups.

“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 during last year’s awards. “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.”

Black Ambition focuses on reducing barriers to capital and bridging the wealth gap through entrepreneurship, according to their site. Among founders of venture capitalist-backed companies, only 3% are Black or Latino despite making up roughly 30% of the U.S. population.

During this year’s Mighty Dream Forum held in Norfolk, Virginia, 31 Black and Latino entrepreneurs will be in the running for $2.5 million in prize money. A grand prize winner will be awarded $1 million, the Black Ambition HBCU winner will receive $250,000, and additional finalists will receive awards ranging from $15,000 to $250,000.

Past Black Ambition Tulsa Winners 

In 2021, two Tulsa-based start-ups received prize money totaling $300,000 from Black Ambition.

Quirkchat, founded by Bee Law, is a social video and collaboration platform for self-proclaimed geeks and hobbyists that emphasizes community moderation and community building. The company received $250,000 from the Black Ambition Project.

“Compared to the other cities that we’ve worked in, Tulsa’s start-up ecosystem feels free and exciting,” Law said in a statement last year. “The budding energy of entrepreneurship is very evident when working out of 36 Degrees North, and we are excited to be a part of it. After only being here for a month, we’ve been able to connect with both potential technical talent and capital resources to support our venture.”

Boddle Learning, founded by Edna Martinson and Clarence Tan, is a gamified education platform that helps content providers such as teachers and publishers transform digital learning content into interactive and personalized experiences using 3D games and adaptive technology. According to their website, Boddle Learning is used in all 50 states and in over 100 countries across the world.

“To be selected from hundreds of other companies to receive this finalist award is an honor,” Martinson said in a statement last year. “We’re excited to put the investment to good use and leverage the connections made available through Black Ambition to further our mission to inspire learning and improve student outcomes.”

Black Ambition 2022

In a statement, Williams said he was honored to bring Demo Day to Mighty Dream in Virginia this year.

“We can’t wait to show some of the top business leaders of the world our prize winners and founders and how hard they have worked to bring their ideas and dreams to life. By investing in our Black and Latinx entrepreneurs, we are laying the foundation for more incredible people to have access to the resources they need to change the world.”

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