Pharrell Williams is continuing his dive into philanthropy with the creation of his new non-profit Black Ambition.
Pharrell announced the new initiative on Tuesday. In a statement, he claimed the civil unrest that suffused 2020 moved him to create an organization to support Black and Latinx entrepreneurs who are launching tech, design, healthcare, consumer products, and service startups. By doing this, the producer/rapper/singer/film composer hopes to level the playing field for minority innovators.
"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," the statement reads. "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 is helping fortify this "pipeline" by introducing its Black Ambition HBCU Prize. This partnership will allow current or former HBCU students who identify as Black/African/African American and/or Hispanic/Latinx to pitch their company for consideration. After review, the winner will receive a $1 million prize and at least nine additional teams will receive smaller prizes to use towards their businesses.
Along with Pharrell, the Black Ambition's advisory team includes support from the Bridgespan Group—a global nonprofit organization that advises mission-driven organizations, nonprofits, philanthropists, and impact investors as well as Off-White's Virgil Abloh (who also created the Black Ambition logo and identity concept design). Black Ambition is also receiving support from brands that partner with Pharrell like Adidas and Chanel as well as the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the Rockefeller Foundation, Tony’s Chocolonely, and the Visa Foundation. It is receiving individual donations from Ron Conway, SV Angel, and Jonah Peretti while Mattel and Tony’s Chocolonely will be releasing products with the proceeds going to Black Ambition.
The Black Ambition initative comes after Pharrell joined the world of podcasting through his new OTHERtoneMedia network. He's ushering in that venture with the premiere of OTHERtone with Pharrell, Scott, and Fam-Lay on Dec. 7, and with new episodes dropping every Monday.