Entrepreneurship, equity, opportunity

Meet the leaders who are promoting equity … in Atlanta and beyond
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What’s the story: At the first-ever UPS Impact Summit, Jay Bailey, president and CEO of The Russell Innovation Center for Entrepreneurs (RICE), spoke with The UPS Foundation’s Nikki Clifton about their shared commitment to advance Black communities through entrepreneurship.

Why it matters: UPS has partnered with RICE to focus on job creation and economic empowerment. The relationship represents UPS’s long-term commitment to its hometown of Atlanta and to building a more inclusive and equitable world.

Through a $1.25 million investment from UPS and The UPS Foundation, UPS Ignite and UPS’s partnership with the Russell Innovation Center for Entrepreneurs (RICE) are helping elevate underrepresented founders and the businesses they lead. The funding is supporting: 

  • A branded facility on the RICE campus featuring a dedicated location of The UPS Store and Ware2Go solutions.
  • Expertise from seasoned UPSers as part of the RICE Supply Chain Accelerator program with topics including supply chain, supplier diversity, franchising, e-commerce and logistics excellence.

Meet the changemakers:

As head of RICE, Jay Bailey leads a $40 million dollar organization representing the largest center in the U.S. dedicated to empowering Black entrepreneurs and small business owners – a 54,000 square-foot facility designed to inspire ideas, create jobs, grow companies and increase wealth in the community.

Nikki Clifton is the president of social impact and The UPS Foundation, leading global philanthropy, social impact and international community affairs. She oversees the company’s efforts to respond to the world’s most pressing social, humanitarian and environmental needs.

Key takeaways: Jay spoke with Nikki about three principles RICE follows in its mission to support Black entrepreneurs and accelerate their business endeavors.


RICE tackles entrepreneurship from all angles: education, networking, mentoring and capital resources.

“Far too often, we develop programming with our only goal to be informative. I see it as our duty to be transformative. How can we look beyond curriculum, to look at the whole of the entrepreneur?”


When RICE began conducting research, Bailey and team met with prospective entrepreneurs who said access to capital wasn’t their number one need: “It was community.”

Historically, Black entrepreneurs have had less access to mentorship and growth opportunities. RICE plays an instrumental role in bringing those business owners into contact with dynamic people like them … and with the curriculum, coaching and connections to help them prosper.


In today’s competitive economy, time is critical. How quickly entrepreneurs can access capital, go to market and even deliver products can make or break a small business.

“Our time is now. With the Russell Center, with partners like UPS, we are building the largest center in the world dedicated to growing, scaling and developing Black-owned businesses.”

Nikki spoke about her team’s efforts to connect businesses in Louisville, Kentucky, to RICE, where UPS employs 3,000 residents of the city’s West End neighborhood.

“I was looking at small businesses that need a model for success. And I thought, I've got to connect them to Jay Bailey because if they know what's being done in Atlanta, they can see the promise and see in themselves the ability to move forward. That's the beauty of these kinds of partnerships and being able and willing to be collaborative, because we can't do this alone.”

Delivering for underrepresented communities: UPS’s efforts with Jay Bailey and RICE work in conjunction with marketing partnerships like Proudly Unstoppable campaigns, dedicated to elevating and celebrating underrepresented small business communities – all part of the company’s commitment to investing in programs that open doors and create new pathways for communities to thrive. 

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