In an effort to develop the next generation of African-American entrepreneurs from the HBCU community, the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) officially will merge today with the Opportunity Funding Corporation (OFC).
The joining of resources between the two organizations will provide students at TMCF’s member schools with opportunities they have yet to receive from other higher education organizations for innovation and the chance to contribute to the nation’s economy and evolving job market.
For 26 years, TMCF has focused its efforts on preparing future leaders by placing recent graduates from the nation’s public historically Black colleges and universities in jobs with some of the world’s largest and most well-known employers. But TMCF President and CEO Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., acknowledged that the merger was an appropriate step for his organization, which supports and represents nearly 300,000 students, to take.
“TMCF has had a great 25-year run, but, in order for TMCF to continue being relevant in the future, we must serve the needs of all of our students,” he said. “What we know is some of our students want to pursue successful careers within major organizations, but there are many students equally interested in being entrepreneurs. The TMCF-OFC merger creates the capability for us to help HBCU students develop whatever path to success they want to pursue.”
As part of the organization’s new strategy, TMCF has been seeking new partnerships to extend its depth and breadth in higher education. The merger with OFC is the first and beginning of the organization’s entrepreneurial aspirations.
“The announcement of the TMCF-OFC merger is a very special moment for TMCF because it represents a natural evolution of our business model from that of a purely scholarship granting organization to a business-creating and job-producing one,” said Taylor.
The OFC’s founding dates back to 1970 when Donald Rumsfeld, in his role as head of the Office of Economic Opportunity, convinced President Richard Nixon to fund an entrepreneurial concept aimed at creating successful Black-owned businesses to spur economic development in Black communities across the country. OFC’s success was built on identifying promising business opportunities and assisting those businesses with capital, credit guarantees, business coaching, and mentoring.
“Since 2000, OFC has worked closely with HBCUs to include entrepreneurship in their business administration curriculums, so this merger with TMCF is a perfect match,” said OFC Chairman William E. Cox, who also is a co-founder of Diverse: Issues in Higher Education.
OFC has played a significant role in incubating companies by serving as the financing vehicle for hundreds of minority entrepreneurs, such as BET founder Bob Johnson and Radio One founder Cathy Hughes.
“Like many other organizations in the higher education space, TMCF is facing 21st century demands far different than what we’ve seen in the past,” said Lt. Gen. Arthur Gregg, Chairman Emeritus of the OFC Board of Directors. “Merging OFC and TMCF will allow the work we started over 40 years ago to continue and expand beyond our wildest dreams.”