Cornell University Students Pitching In to Help Black Small Businesses

Arianna Kohilakis, a junior in the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, established Empower, a new student-led initiative that connects Black-owned businesses with undergraduate student volunteers who offer their time and talent to support business operations or projects.

Participating businesses who request assistance are matched with student volunteers within 48 hours. Empower provides a platform for student volunteers to support the Black business community by completing tasks and projects related to social media account management website design and development photography and graphic design. Students have also worked on strategic assignments including branding business development and accounting

Since many of Kohilakis’ peers were without summer internships due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Empower created an opportunity for volunteers to make a difference in supporting the Black community while obtaining valuable business experience

“From helping to plan coding boot camps specifically for Black youth in underprivileged areas to formulating the launch strategy for makeup subscription boxes that cater to individual skin tones and beauty needs Cornellians’ skillsets are being used to drive a movement,” Kohilakis said.

Since Empower launched in early June it has matched more than 125 Cornell undergraduate students to projects with Black-owned businesses.

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