LITE Memphis receives $450K grant to expand entrepreneur program for Memphis youth

What’s happening: Through its Young Entrepreneurship Program, LITE Memphis has taught the skills and value of entrepreneurship to more than 4,500 young Black and Latinx Memphians. The nonprofit organization is now equipped to to teach a good many more, this thanks to a $450,000 grant from Cummins Inc. and its Cummins CARE Initiative. The $450,000 commitment marks the single largest donation in the nonprofit’s history.

Why it’s important: “This transformative financial donation validates the work that we do in the community. LITE is equipping students with transferable skills through entrepreneurship education and professional development,” says Lakethia Glenn, the outgoing Executive Director of LITE Memphis. “With the Cummins three year grant, LITE will continue to expand its programming to students and communities throughout the region.”

What it does: LITE Memphis will receive the $450,000 in $150,000 increments each year for the next three years. The organization plans to expand its Youth Entrepreneurship Program, which aims to close the racial wage gap by teaching Black and Latinx high school students entrepreneurial skills. Students enroll in a 16-week course where they learn how to market, budget, and communicate their business ideas, and network. The program culminates with LITE Pitch Night, where students pitch their business ideas and the audience votes on the winners, awarding the young entrepreneurs thousands of dollars to invest in their burgeoning businesses.

What they’re saying: “We know the work we do creates lasting impact,” says Audrey Willis, LITE Memphis Board President. “It feels good to know that Cummins believes in our mission enough to financially support it. This grant ensures that we will be spreading LITE in Memphis for many years to come. ”

Per Cummins: “After the Summer of George Floyd’s murder, we were looking for ways to make a meaningful impact on the nation,” says Shawna Herring, Project Coordinator for Cummins Inc. “We found LITE.”
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