McKee-Matos Administration Pilots Cross-Government Collaboration to Empower High School Students and Local Minority-Owned Businesses

Published on Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Cross-agency pilot program aims to help high school students, especially students of color, women, and socially and economically disadvantaged students, explore entrepreneurship as a career path

PROVIDENCE, RI — The McKee-Matos administration was joined today by Lincoln Town Administrator Phil Gould to launch the pilot of the Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) Incubator Program, a cross-government collaboration that helps prepare high school students for entrepreneurial opportunities after high school, specifically focused on the trades and minority-owned businesses.

“One of my first priorities as Governor was rectifying Rhode Island’s failure to fairly include minority business enterprises in state projects, and today’s launch of the Incubator pilot is a big step forward in that work,” said Governor Dan McKee. “By putting multiple agencies to work on this issue, we’ve created a system that will benefit both students and business owners while addressing the problem head-on. I’m looking forward to working with our partners both in and out of our administration to build the full program and kick it off in full this fall.”

“Rhode Island is preparing to make historic investments in rebuilding our housing, school, and infrastructure; this program ensures that the communities who have been most affected by their disrepair will be front and central in their rehabilitation,” said Lieutenant Governor Sabina Matos. “We have before us an opportunity to not only strengthen our economy but to recommit ourselves to equity. My office will continue working across state government to equip our diverse communities with the knowledge, skills, and confidence necessary to seize that opportunity and the many more to come.”

The MBE Incubator aims to help high school students, especially students of color, women, and socially and economically disadvantaged students, explore entrepreneurship as a career path by helping them begin businesses, apply for apprenticeships, or pursue the RI Promise scholarship. Amid a renewed push by the McKee administration to ensure that Rhode Island meets its obligation to contract with MBEs for 10% of its procurement and construction projects, this program will create a pipeline of future MBEs across the state.

“The Minority Business Enterprise Incubator is more than an important investment in Rhode Island’s workforce. It also creates a promising path forward for students of color to become future entrepreneurs and business leaders in their own communities,” said Associate Director of the Department of Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion Tomás Ávila.

The MBE Incubator dovetails with Rhode Island’s unified PK-20 public education strategic plan to ensure students graduate college- and career-ready. Each year, over 3,000 Rhode Island students graduate without a plan, and over 80% of those students are either students of color or women. By creating paths to entrepreneurship for students of every skillset and career goal, the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) and the Rhode Island Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner (RIOPC) aim to be able to increase the number of students statewide who graduate with a defined plan for continued success.

“Every student deserves to pursue a career that they’re passionate about, whether their path takes them to an apprenticeship, CCRI, or starting their own business,” said Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Angélica Infante-Green. “No matter what our kids want to do after you graduate, we want to make sure you have the resources to succeed. We’re deeply grateful for our partners across the state and in the pilot schools for their collaboration on this important project.”

The program pilot launched at separate events at Lincoln High School on May 19th and today at Davies Career and Technical High School, presenting to program to over 200 eligible students total. A working group made up of representatives from the RIDE, RIOPC, DEDI, Skills for Rhode Island’s Future, and both LEAs involved in the pilot will use feedback from students and educators will shape the final launch of the MBE Incubator, which will include a website, an app, and a streamlined MBE certification, in the Fall of 2022.

“I am very excited to see the Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) Incubator Program being offered at both Lincoln High School and Davies Vocational,” said Lincoln Town Administrator Gould. “With the dynamic changes facing our business communities, it is crucial we bring fresh ideas and a new entrepreneurial spirit. This program will provide opportunities and cultivate a new generation of entrepreneurs that might have otherwise been left behind. In Lincoln we encourage business success, and I look forward to seeing these young men and women take their rightful place within our business community.”

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