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The Tulsa Initiative’s Gala and Pitch Competition – Unlocking Entrepreneur Dreams for Young Black Men

The Tulsa Initiative is hosting its first 2023 Gala and Pitch Competition on Saturday, December 2, 2023, from 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at Studio 215 at 215 Williams Street, Fayetteville, NC 28301.

The gala will include a pitch show competition, giving the competition finalists a platform to present their business plans to a large audience. Dr. Paulette C. Walker, 25th National President of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. (2013–2017), will be the keynote speaker. The event is also Tulsa Initiative’s end-of-year fundraiser to help fulfill the program’s mission.

Tulsa Leadership Entrepreneurship Academy and Executive Team; Courtesy of The Tulsa Initiative/Instagram

It means a lot to Qu’Derrick Covington (President and Executive Director) and his team to provide this platform to young men that will change their lives.

“We’re excited to celebrate these young men for completing the program and being able to share their business with the crowd,” he stated.

The young men aged 18–25 that the organizations work with come from all walks of life. The organization’s website states that the 10-week Leadership and Entrepreneurship Academy is a result-driven entrepreneurship program specifically designed for black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC).

Young Men of the 2023 Delta Cohort -Tulsa Leadership and Entrepreneurship Academy; Courtesy of The Tulsa Initiative/Instagram

“We help young men with their business ideas and how to put their business thoughts on paper to make those dreams a reality,” Covington shared.

The Tulsa Initiative also includes Tulsa Speaks and the Tulsa C-Suite Speaker Series. Tulsa Speaks has done over 65 workshops, seminars, and keynote addresses with over 1000 attendees, according to the organization’s website. The Tulsa C-Suite Speaker series operates under the 3E’s:- expose, educate, and empower. Participants are introduced to and exposed to leaders, networks, and resources associated with the Fayetteville area. The Speaker Series aims to educate while fostering a sense of diversity and self-identity among participants in workshops focused on executive leadership, financial literacy, entrepreneurship, creativity, and personal branding. They want to make a leading impression through mentorship, leaving the participants empowered.

The Fayetteville native redefines the narrative, leaving young men with a wealth of attainable knowledge and inspiration to mold them into influential men in society.

“I’m just a guy from Fayetteville who wants to make a difference”

Qu’Derrick Covington, President and CEO of the Tulsa Initiative

Historically, the Greenwood District, known as the Black Wall Street, was once a thriving community and businesses in Tulsa, Oklahoma, destroyed over 100 years ago during tumultuous Jim Crow times.

While the Black Wall Street massacre was tragic, Covington learned a lesson from the vision, resilience, and creativity of the residents of Greenwood. The hope and strength from those times empowered him to help the participants stand out and flourish in their dreams, no matter what.

Qu’Derrick Covington speaking about the Tulsa Initiative during a City Council Meeting; Courtesy of the Tulsa Initiative

“If they (Greenwood residents) could do it in the early 1900s, then we too can do it in 2023,” he shared.

Covington shared that he sees himself in the young men he’s helping. His passion behind the Tulsa Initiative also reflects his childhood mentor, Dr. Ellerbe.

“I grew up extremely poor; when it was time for school, my mother couldn’t afford to buy me shoes, so I wore flip-flops to school. (As a child, I didn’t see many successful black or business owners who looked like me,” Covington shared with Voyage ATL.

His profound encounter with his middle school principal, Dr. Ellerbe, exposed him to black excellence. Dr. Ellerbe’s influence carries on with Covington for him to move and impact young men positively.

Many success stories make his work purposeful, from participant, Justice Houser, landing six-figure contracts for his company to another participant, De’Voski Boyd, bidding on city and county contracts after starting his construction company.

“It’s proof that the work we’re doing is meaningful. I had the opportunity to attend college, start a business, and become successful in my own rights. I understand that this is the reality that some young men may not get if we don’t do the work that’s needed. That’s what keeps me grounded and molded,” he added.

The Gala and Pitch Competition is creating new narratives to give young men hope and dreams. He leads by example to continue a leadership legacy and build a brighter future through entrepreneurship.

Visit https://www.tulsanonprofit.org/tulsa-gala-23 to attend this life-changing event for the Tulsa Initiative participants.

Readers can click the highlighted link to learn more about the Tulsa Initiative and ways to help.

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