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Russell Innovation Center for Entrepreneurs Announces $1 Million Grant from PayPal

Recently, the Russell Innovation Center for Entrepreneurs (RICE) announced a $1 million grant from PayPal Holdings, Inc.. The grant will establish a PayPal Retail Academy to Support Atlanta-Area Entrepreneurs. They will provide a curriculum of coaching, specialized tools, and resources to help entrepreneurs in Atlanta grow their businesses. 

PayPal and RICE’s shared mission will focus on empowering underrepresented entrepreneurs. Educators will teach the participants every aspect of successfully starting and scaling a retail business. The curriculum will include training on non-traditional retail paths, up-leveling checkout and digitization, developing global marketing strategies, and navigating supply chain issues. Other key components will include research and recommendations to eliminate some of the barriers underrepresented retail SMBs face.

RICE’s role in managing the PayPal Retail Academy

“Beyond education, this partnership symbolizes growth for our entrepreneurial community,” said Jay Bailey, President & CEO of RICE.  “We recognize the paramount importance of harnessing retail avenues and embracing digital transformation. The PayPal Retail Academy will serve as a conduit for this knowledge, empowering RICE Stakeholders to navigate the complexities of retail with resilience and innovation. Every facet of the Academy is meticulously designed to elevate entrepreneurs to new heights.”   

Additionally, participants in the PayPal Retail Academy will receive both financial and human capital. These entrepreneurs will be eligible to receive grants ranging from $2,500 to $10,000, alongside mentoring and coaching from PayPal employees. 

RICE will manage and facilitate the formation of the Academy. The Academy will be open to all RICE member companies, known as Stakeholders, and businesses in the Atlanta metro area with a focus on underrepresented communities. RICE Stakeholders, representing various stages of growth from ideation to more seasoned revenue-generating companies, concentrate on the consulting, technology, food and beverage, film and media, and education industries. Learn more about becoming a RICE Stakeholder here.   

“Empowering entrepreneurs and helping strengthen small businesses are key to PayPal’s mission to make our financial system more accessible and inclusive,” said Dan Schulman, President and CEO of PayPal. “Through invaluable partnerships with organizations like RICE, we can create greater economic opportunity and build thriving communities.”  

Empowering underrepresented communities in Atlanta

At 54,000 square ft., RICE is the largest business incubation hub in the United States. They dedicate their time and efforts to providing resources and building Black-owned businesses in the United States. Currently, the non-profit organization supports more than 360 Black-owned businesses from ideation to scale. RICE previously received a grant from PayPal to assist businesses in their recoveries from the Covid-19 pandemic.   

“Growing and scaling any business comes with a unique set of challenges. The Russell Innovation Center for Entrepreneurs continues to go above and beyond to seek out relationships that will improve the odds for success for Stakeholders,” said Dr. Bianca Kiovanni, RICE Stakeholder and owner of Simplicity Beverage Company. “As a business that uses PayPal and a proud RICE Stakeholder, I’m thrilled that this partnership will provide entrepreneurs like me with critical resources to further increase the credibility and soundness of our businesses.”  

This grant is also an extension of PayPal’s involvement in the Southern Communities Initiative (SCI). SCI was launched in April 2021 by PayPal, Vista Equity Partners, and Boston Consulting Group. They aim to address the racial wealth gap in six southern communities, including Atlanta, GA, where nearly half of all Black Americans reside.

About the Russell Innovation Center for Entrepreneurs (RICE)

The Russell Innovation Center for Entrepreneurs is a business generator serving metro Atlanta area. They seek to help Black entrepreneurs overcome the distinct barriers they face when establishing successful businesses. Our BIG IDEAS model meets every business owner where they are on their journey. RICE fortifys them with a community of support, increasing access and exposure, focused on transformational change. The company honors the legacy and visionary leadership of one the greatest entrepreneurs the city of Atlanta ever produced, the late great Herman J. Russell. For more information, visit  

About PayPal

PayPal has remained at the forefront of the digital payment revolution for more than 20 years. They have done so by leveraging technology to make financial services and commerce more convenient, affordable, and secure, the PayPal platform is empowering hundreds of millions of consumers and merchants in more than 200 markets to join and thrive in the global economy. For more information, visit

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