School:Johnson C. Smith University

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GoldenBull-Masthead3.pngJohnson C. Smith University


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Johnson C. Smith University is a private HBCU that sits at the highest point in Charlotte, North Carolina. Established in 1867, JCSU has a rich history in advancing and expanding the potential of its students.

JCSU is making leaps and bounds in advancing Institutional Innovation and Entrepreneurship.


Promoting Student Innovation and Entrepreneurship is an experience-based learning opportunity in venture capital and tech entrepreneurship. Our student investor program works with students attending historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) to teach investment fundamentals and entrepreneurship. To act as investors to fund local tech entrepreneurs and build startup communities in and around their campuses. During the program, students learn from investors and entrepreneurs as they work to identify investment opportunities, perform market research, and make funding decisions. It gives students the real world experience needed to jumpstart careers in their chosen paths.


FreshStart is a Spring Break program that allows students to learn and practice the techniques for entrepreneurs and teams who created companies like Facebook, Apple, Uber, Rent The Runway and Spotify. It’s a full-week immersion where students will have close conversations with entrepreneurs in Charlotte, visit locations where they are building their companies and learn how they can build thier own startups or work with others to build something great.

Actively Supporting the University Technology Transfer Function

Following JCSU's revamp of institutional focus to align with our Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), students and faculty are able to utilize the resources at the James B. Duke Memorial Library to educate themselves on the patent process and apply it to entrepreneurship.

Encouraging Faculty Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Sustainability Village

An innovative living-learning prototype for students, as well as academic coursework, service-learning activities and study abroad opportunities are all part of the University’s Sustainability Village. The program integrates academic coursework, research, service learning and experiential education opportunities to enhance student understanding of sustainable development, community food systems and alternative lifestyles that promote conservation. Community and aquaponic gardens also offer opportunities for students to engage in service learning and applied interdisciplinary research. The gardens aid in the University’s recycling and waste reduction efforts by employing composting and loop system strategies. Both gardens are part of Sustainability Village, which is designed to produce food for thought as students learn while living in a sustainable environment. Funded by The Duke Endowment and Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina as part of the College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, the village’s centerpiece will be a model home built to accommodate four students. It will serve as an affordable prototype that could be replicated in communities impacted by natural disasters such as in the earthquake-devasted areas in Haiti.

Facilitating University-Industry Collaboration


Johnson C. Smith is a partner institute to Google's secondary education programs where students are given the ability to expand and apply their computer science skills and knowledge. Incoming freshmen are selected from a wide range for the Google Computer Science Summer Institute prior to starting their first year. This program operates on the campus of JCSU, where 20 incoming freshmen learn web development and soft skills over three weeks while learning the environment on campus. The upperclassmen are also encouraged to be involved with Applied Computer Science, where they apply their lessons from class to android app development to create intuitive apps. 


JCSU CSE Department is partnering with IBM on curriculum that explains how to work with Enterprise Cloud Computing Systems. This is offered as an elctive course under Special Topics in Computer Science. Students learn about the IBM cloud platform to create a web-based application that seek to solve an issue they see on campus. Students also will earn a digital badge for completing IBM's Master the Mainframe during the class.

Engaging with Regional and Local Economic Development Efforts

Johnson C. Smith University has strong connections with the surrounding charlotte community. Community involvement is strongly ingrained in the campus and academic culture, where all students are required to participate in 10 hours of community service and every organization on campus host events to volunteer within Mecklenburg county. The school of Social Work has a graduation requirement of 400 field hours with a local organization. The STEM Innovation Center at JCSU has involved itself with the community of startups and venture capital firms within the Charlotte ecosystem. They have hosted meeting for small businesses and local entrepreneurs, such as Start- Up Weekend and the Charlotte's meeting for small businesses. In the near future, JCSU will launch a Small Business Innovation Research Program that will service as a pathway to increase student involvement and accelerate innovation on campus.

Related Links

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Canvas Link Landscape Canvas & Conclusions

University Innovation Fellows

Fall 2019 Fellows

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Germany Bell

Fall 2018 Fellows

Anthony Edwards

Tymier Farrar

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