Pharrell Williams is giving Black and Latino entrepreneurs a reason to be happy.
The Grammy Award-winning artist, producer and philanthropist has launched a nonprofit initiative, Black Ambition, with a mission to provide a bridge to success for Black and Latino entrepreneurs launching 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 with Wednesday’s announcement. “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.”
The Los Angeles-based organization said it envisions “a future where ideas flourish, ruinous risk is alleviated and Black and LatinX entrepreneurs are positioned to transform the American landscape.”
The 47-year-old “Happy” singer leads an all-star advisory team with support from The Bridgespan Group, a global nonprofit organization that advises mission-driven organizations, nonprofits, philanthropists and impact investors.
Along with his nonprofit, Williams (known professionally as just Pharrell) also teamed with Historically Black Colleges and Universities to launch The Black Ambition HBCU Prize and The Black Ambition Prize.
The Black Ambition HBCU prize offers prizes and mentorship for current and former students at HBCUs as they develop seed or early-stage ideas and launch companies. The grand prize winner will receive up to a $250,000 prize and at least nine additional teams will receive smaller prizes.
In August, the hip-hop star released a new song about black ambition with Jay-Z, alongside his curation of Time magazine’s special cover project, “The New American Revolution: Visions of a Black Future that Fulfills a Nation’s Promise.”
In June, Williams teamed up with Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam to announce plans to make Juneteenth an official state holiday.