The University of Georgia announced it received a grant of $1.25 million from Truist Foundation and SunTrust Trusteed Foundations to establish the Truist Community Innovation Initiative, a multifaceted effort to enhance collaborative spaces and develop new programming and support for aspiring entrepreneurs in the Athens community.
“First and foremost, I want to thank Truist Foundation and the SunTrust Trusteed Foundations for their generous support and for their commitment to UGA’s Innovation District,” said UGA President Jere W. Morehead. “This grant provides vital resources to connect campus and Athens community entrepreneurs in ways that will strengthen the creative culture and technology-based economy of our town. We are so excited about this impactful initiative and very proud to have Truist as our strong partner.”
Housed within the Delta Innovation Hub, the Truist Community Innovation Initiative will fund Innovation Bootcamps, the Truist Community Innovation Fund, and a series of monthly “Lunch and Learn” events. Each component of the initiative engages the Athens community in unique ways, with the goal of making the university’s innovation ecosystem more visible and accessible to local entrepreneurs from all backgrounds. In addition, the initiative will enhance the plaza and other areas of the Delta Innovation Hub to foster community and collaboration.
“The Truist Foundation is committed to strengthening small business and unlocking access to opportunity for diverse entrepreneurs,” said Truist Foundation President Lynette Bell. “The Truist Community Innovation Fund Initiative will help aspiring entrepreneurs resolve critical problems, stay relevant in the competitive market and contribute to economic growth.”
Innovation Bootcamp is a multiweek, cohort-based program launched in 2019 that offers education and mentorship for aspiring entrepreneurs to develop their ideas into viable business plans. While open to all, each bootcamp is designed to examine challenges faced by underrepresented entrepreneurs and innovators. The 2019 program focused on women entrepreneurs, the most recent program supported music industry entrepreneurs, and future programs will focus on entrepreneurs of color and veterans.
The new Truist Community Innovation Fund will provide Athens-area entrepreneurs access to Delta Innovation Hub resources to help bring their ideas to market—resources like seed funding, maker equipment, coworking space, and mentorship.
The Lunch and Learn series supported by the grant is a new program that will provide a space for university and community entrepreneurs to connect, collaborate and learn. The funding will allow up to eight learning sessions per year, with the first session anticipated for fall 2022.