The Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center is a vital resource for the next generation of entrepreneurs at Shaw University,” said Shaw University Interim President Dr. Paulette Dillard. “Through our partnership with the Carolina Small Business Development Fund, we have been able to create opportunities for our students that will allow them to build companies right here in Southeast Raleigh. We are grateful that the Annie E. Casey Foundation recognizes that potential and has made this investment in our young people.”

Shaw University and the Carolina Small Business Development Fund opened the IEC on the corner of Blount and Cabarrus Streets in downtown Raleigh to provide business services and office space to Shaw students and community entrepreneurs. The goal of the IEC is to provide access to capital and industry expertise to these clients. CSBDF’s Business Services department is currently housed at the IEC and provides loan assistance, technical assistance, and one-on-one counseling.

“The Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center is the result of a model partnership with Shaw University and our combined commitment to increase access to capital and innovation to small businesses in Southeast Raleigh. We are excited that the Casey Foundation recognizes our efforts and has given us an opportunity to continue to make an impact and support small business growth across the state,” said Lenwood V. Long, Sr., President/CEO of CSBDF.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation is a private philanthropy whose mission is to create a brighter future for the nation’s children by developing solutions to strengthen families, build paths to economic opportunity and transform struggling communities into safer and healthier places to live, work and grow.

“This partnership between a historically black institution of higher education and a leading regional community development financial institution represents a unique model for increasing access to capital for local entrepreneurs and for providing practical learning experience and business assistance for Shaw University students and the surrounding community,” said James Wahls, a senior investment analyst at the Casey Foundation. “The Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center will support local enterprises that create jobs and increase opportunity — particularly for individuals and families of color.”

The University will use the funds to expand programming offerings for entrepreneurs and service more clients. The IEC is currently offering services to current Shaw students, alumni, and residents of Southeast Raleigh.

“It has been an amazing experience to witness the volunteer and business community support we have received to develop the IEC,” said Talib Graves-Manns, Executive Director of the IEC. “Financial contributions from the Annie E. Casey Foundation will allow us to further expand our programming and impact across the small business community, as well as foster our student and alumni entrepreneurial talent.”

Shaw University, located in North Carolina’s vibrant Downtown Raleigh, is the first historically black institution of higher education in the Southern United States. Founded in 1865 by Dr. Henry Martin Tupper, Shaw is proud to be educating more than 1,800 students who will become the change agents of tomorrow. Our motto is “This is E.P.I.C,” as we are committed to advancing our mission with Entrepreneurial Thinking, Positioning and Presence, Innovation, and Customer Care. Learn more at

Carolina Small Business Development Fund’s mission is to foster economic development in underserved communities by providing capital, business services, and policy research to support small businesses. Since 2010, Carolina Small Business has invested more than $43.4 million through 594 loans to small businesses across North Carolina helping to create or retain more than 1,991 jobs.