Forward Cities Receives Grant from Truist Foundation to Expand Black Wall Street Forward Narrative Change Initiative

September 1, 2023 | By

Nutishia Lee

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On August 25, 2023, Durham-based nonprofit Forward Cities announced a $250,000 grant from Truist Foundation to support the continuation and evolution of the Black Wall Street Forward program, a narrative change initiative to catalyze Black-centric entrepreneurial ecosystems. The Black Wall Street Forward program provides capacity building and shared learning experiences for entrepreneurial champions, community leaders and allies, guiding them in the cultivation of more aligned, connected, and financially sustainable Black-centric entrepreneurial ecosystems. Forward Cities aims to leverage the powerful learnings from the Black Wall Street Forward pilot to scale its impact.

Fay Horwitt standing in front of a crowd.

Fay Horwit speaks at the BWSF-Durham pilot event.

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to more deeply explore and expand on the Black Wall Street Forward initiative. In the process of piloting the program in North Carolina, we have seeded new narratives that have the potential to catalyze significant systems change for Black entrepreneurs in these communities,” said Forward Cities President & CEO Fay Horwitt. “We are grateful that the continued support of Truist Foundation will allow us to explore how to scale that impact within these communities and beyond."

Black Wall Street Forward is an action-based learning network launched in 2022 and piloted in five North Carolina communities – Durham, Charlotte, Fayetteville, Raleigh, and Winston-Salem. The initiative explores and seeks to change the narrative of disenfranchisement for American Black businesses.  Provident1898, a Black-centric coworking community located in historic Mutual Tower in downtown Durham, serves as the program’s headquarters.

A man and woman conversing.

Black Wall Street Forward councils launched pilot events in each community.

The unique program is modeled on the foundational pillars that made Durham’s original Black Wall St. successful and builds on the legacy of that work. Through the course of nine months, participants engaged in activities to explore the past, present, and future of Black Wall Street. With the support of a trusted Forward Cities’ trained ecosystem builder, a local council in each community collaborated to develop a strategic vision for a reimagined Black Wall Street in their city, co-designing and launching pilot projects to activate their vision.

“Truist is proud to support Forward Cities and its mission to help Black entrepreneurs succeed,” said Chris Bell, Triangle Regional President. “Truist’s purpose is to inspire and build better lives and communities and the Black Wall Street Forward program is doing just that, truly making a difference.”

A panel of speakers on a stage.

Councils worked to develop and launch small pilot projects to address
the present needs of entrepreneurs in the community.

The Black Wall Street Forward program has already demonstrated a tremendous impact on the local leaders best positioned to shift narratives, power, and resources for Black entrepreneurs in their respective communities. The continuation of this initiative will enable ecosystem builders and council members across the pilot communities to sustain and expand these efforts.


Forward Cities is a national nonprofit equipping communities and regions to grow and sustain more equitable entrepreneurial ecosystems. Launched in 2014, Forward Cities started as a learning partnership between leaders in four cities: Cleveland, Detroit, New Orleans, and Durham. The organization then built upon this work with a similar multi-city learning collaborative in North Carolina called InnovateNC and through a 2018 merger with CEOs for Cities, a seminal U.S. urban leadership network.

Forward Cities has since partnered with numerous national entities interested in reaching underrepresented entrepreneurs and connected them with the resources they need through various hub and spoke models. Forward Cities is headquartered in the Provident1898 coworking space located within the historic N.C. Mutual Life Insurance tower in downtown Durham.


Truist Foundation is committed to Truist Financial Corporation’s (NYSE: TFC) purpose to inspire and build better lives and communities. Established in 2020, the foundation makes strategic investments in nonprofit organizations to help ensure the communities it serves have more opportunities for a better quality of life. Truist Foundation’s grants and activities focus on building career pathways to economic mobility and strengthening small businesses. Learn more at 


Nutishia Lee, Forward Cities,

Kristen Fraser, Truist,