NEW ORLEANS (July 14, 2021) —Today, the Urban League of Louisiana (ULLA), in collaboration with the National Urban League, launched the Black Restaurant Accelerator Program (BRAP) sponsored by the PepsiCo Foundation.

The launch is a part of a $10M investment by the PepsiCo Foundation to provide current and aspiring Black restaurateurs with access to capital, training, mentorship and other support services through the National Urban League’s 12 entrepreneurship centers. The national program seeks to boost approximately 500 Black-owned businesses over the next five years.

“As the pandemic exposed existing disparities many minority business owners face, we saw a fundamental threat that could erase the decades of progress Black-owned restaurants have made. That is why we believe this investment will help Black restaurateurs not only recover from the pandemic but set them on a path to long-term economic resilience,” said C.D. Glin, Vice President, Global Head of Philanthropy at The PepsiCo Foundation. “We are inspired by the progress we are making through our collaboration with the National Urban League to address a fundamental gap and create opportunities for Black-business owners to build generational wealth and continue to strengthen their communities.”


Black entrepreneurs have long faced systemic barriers to growth including limited access to loans and capital, biased community perceptions, and gentrification challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic has compounded these hurdles for Black-owned food service companies.

“The Urban League of Louisiana understands the economic hardship that Black-owned businesses have faced and continue to face as a result of the pandemic. Through targeted programming and strategic partnerships, our goal is to assist small businesses in their recovery efforts by offering the critical resources needed to thrive in a post-COVID environment”, said Judy Reese Morse, President & CEO of the Urban League of Louisiana.

Through its Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation, ULLA has a long-standing commitment to supporting women- and minority-owned small businesses across the state of Louisiana with various initiatives like Scale Up! Louisiana, the Resilient Restart EBR: Small Business Micro-grants Program, and now, BRAP.

BRAP provides opportunities for direct grant assistance as well as entrepreneurial coaching and training on a variety of topics including accounting and financial systems, inventory management, operational efficiency, marketing for growth and ROI, and staff development. The program provides participants with access to entrepreneurship advisors and PepsiCo employee volunteers to build an actionable plan for growth.


“Black-owned food service operators are critical to the economic vitality of our local communities, as well as, the state’s hospitality and tourism industry. This program will assist some of our hardest hit businesses with turning the tide as they transition towards recovery and long-term sustainability”, said Klassi Duncan, Vice President, Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation, Urban League of Louisiana.


To support BRAP, ULLA has partnered with Chattanooga-based restaurant incubator, Proof, LLC, to provide industry-based entrepreneurial training and consulting services for participating businesses. The inaugural cohort for this “Restaurant Resilience” accelerator program invites 24 Black-owned food service operators from across Louisiana to participate in an 8-week, virtual program, and will provide each participant with consulting services during and after the series.


In addition, this year the program will award 10 food service operators from Louisiana with a $10,000 grant to support a growth project related to operational efficiency, production, business management, etc.

To date, the program has awarded the PepsiCo grant to the following Louisiana-based small businesses:

Applications for the 8-week Black Restaurant Accelerator Program for Black-owned, Louisiana-based food service operators are now open. For more information and to apply, please visit

For additional questions about the program, please email Klassi Duncan, Vice President, Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation, ULLA at