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Funding enables Watson Institute to implement the Truist Foundation Fellowship for 720 underbanked, underserved entrepreneurs and small business owners from emerging markets across urban and rural Georgia.

Watson Institute Embarks on its Second Year of a Three-Year, $450K Grant Partnership with Truist Foundation


Atlanta, GA, Thursday, March 7th, 2024 – Watson Institute today announced the launch of the 2024 Truist Foundation Fellowship. The Fellowship includes award-winning training in financial literacy and entrepreneurship, seed capital, committed mentorship, Impact Series Workshops, and the tools for each Truist Foundation Fellow to power Basecamps in their communities for earlier-stage entrepreneurs.

The 2024 Truist Foundation Fellows are working to increase the economic mobility of their communities in Atlanta and across greater Georgia by tackling various inequities that prevent individuals, including those who are racially and ethnically diverse and women, from increasing their wealth. These inequities span from financial illiteracy to generational poverty for communities of color and limited access to high quality education and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) training, among others.

“We are immensely grateful for Truist Foundation’s generous support and commitment to opening more doors for underserved entrepreneurs and small business owners,” shared Dwayne Griffith, Associate VP of Programs at Watson Institute. “The Foundation’s three-year commitment fosters a network where Alumni can nominate candidates to future Fellowship cohorts, Basecamp Participants can apply to the Fellowship to receive more advanced entrepreneurship training, and Alumni can return as Mentors and Impact Series Teachers. This well-integrated network amongst Fellows, Basecamp Participants, and Alumni ensures there will be an embedded infrastructure of support for underserved founders that lasts well beyond the Truist Foundation Fellowship.”

The primary objective of the Truist Foundation Fellowship is to address the “missing middle” for underserved entrepreneurs who are reaching Product Market Fit, but who need additional training, resources, and networks to scale their ventures and reach financial sustainability. Addressing the missing middle bolsters Georgia’s entrepreneurial ecosystem by fostering opportunities for its most promising yet underserved entrepreneurs.

The pioneer Truist Foundation Fellowship cohort supported over 600 small businesses through their ventures, created 212 paid jobs, and increased their annual recurring revenue by 83% post-Fellowship. We’re enthusiastic to support the 2024 Truist Foundation Fellows to scale their impact in similar ways.

“Truist is proud to partner with the Watson Institute to help underserved entrepreneurs and small business owners,” said Truist Regional President Katie Saez. “The work being done by the Watson Institute helps Truist fulfill our purpose of inspiring and building better lives and communities.”

About Watson Institute

Founded in 2013, Watson Institute is a place where underserved entrepreneurs and leaders can find their community, discover their calling, and accelerate their careers. Alumni of Watson Institute’s Fellowships have raised over $185 million, created over 1,900 paid jobs, and impacted 10 million people around the world through their ventures and small businesses.

About Truist Foundation

Truist Foundation is committed to Truist Financial Corporation’s (NYSE: TFC) purpose to inspire and build better lives and communities. The Foundation, an endowed private foundation established in 2020 whose operating budget is independent of Truist Financial Corporation, makes strategic investments in a wide variety of nonprofit organizations centered around two focus areas: building career pathways to economic mobility and strengthening small businesses to ensure all communities have an equal opportunity to thrive. Embodying these focus areas are the Foundation’s leading initiatives – the Inspire Awards and Where It Starts. Learn more at