The Russell Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (RCIE) — the self-proclaimed largest nonprofit center for Black entrepreneurs — previously announced plans to kick off its Beyond Innovation Campaign to garner more support for Black entrepreneurship in Atlanta and beyond.

Since launching in 2019, Black Enterprise reports the organization has raised $25 million to uphold its mission and support its initial pledge to build up its headquarters debt-free by reaching its $45 million campaign goal.

Now, the entrepreneurial center has reached another major milestone after raising an additional $20 million as it enters its final Phase III to conclude construction expansion this month.

In addition to its expansion plans, RCIE is also rebranding itself with its previously-mentioned name, a new website launch, and increased construction to introduce a new space and programming, Black Enterprise reports.

Jay Bailey — CEO and president of RCIE — disclosed his thoughts to Black Enterprise on why now is a good time for Black entrepreneurs to utilize the center as a resource to open and expand their businesses.

“Black entrepreneurs have been disproportionately impacted by a multitude of factors that prevent them from pursuing business and employment opportunities — from the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic to barriers stemming from systemic racial injustice and social inequity,” he said. “RCIE is boldly pursuing pathways to expand the possibilities for entrepreneurs in Atlanta and beyond at a time when ensuring equitable opportunities for Black-owned businesses matters more than ever.”

Currently, RCIE works full-time with 120 Black entrepreneurs total, as well as over 4,000 Black-owned businesses that operate within its network.

According to Black Enterprise, the organization claims that it will add an additional 100-150 more of those entities later this year as it rounds out its final fundraising efforts over the next two years.

“Black entrepreneurs require more than symbols of hope at this critical time. They need institutions to manufacture it,” Bailey concluded in his statement. “RCIE will do our part to help create and accelerate opportunities for Black business owners. When they feel cut off from opportunities and support, we bring them into a family of dynamic people like them, with the curriculum, coaching, co-working, connections and capital to help ensure they prosper, not just survive.”

Additionally, RCIE hopes to create 2,000 jobs in Atlanta and develop 250 new startup companies by 2025. It also plans to offer its resources to 700 existing businesses to help expand their staffing by 5-10 employees while boosting Black wealth in the Greater Atlanta area by over $70 million.

RCIE aims to be both a beacon of hope for Black businesses to thrive and an agent of change to set current and aspiring entrepreneurs up for success in the near future.

For more information about the Russell Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, visit its website.