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December 14, 2022 | Tom Ballard

Truist Foundation awards $100,000 grant to UT Research Park

The money will go to diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts at the Spark Innovation Center.

The University of Tennessee Research Park (UTRP) at Cherokee Farm has received a $100,000 grant from Truist Foundation to support the Spark Innovation Center.

Grant funds will be used to increase the Center’s core principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion, helping the Center recruit and serve more women- and minority-led entrepreneurs and start-up companies through its programs like the “Spark Cleantech Accelerator” and the “Spark Incubator Program.”

“We are extremely grateful to Truist Foundation for supporting the mission of the Spark Innovation Center,” said Tom Rogers, UTRP President and Chief Executive Officer. “The investment from Truist Foundation will enable us to better serve women- and black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC)-owned small businesses and entrepreneurs. In doing so, it will strengthen East Tennessee communities by building more career pathways to economic mobility.”

With the funds, the Spark Innovation Center hopes to reach its goal of 50 percent participation by minority- and women- led entrepreneurs and startups in all Spark programming within three years, providing encouragement and support for the next generation of tech-led entrepreneurs.

“The University of Tennessee Research Park at Cherokee Farm aligns with Truist Foundation’s mission to work with organizations that strengthen the entrepreneurial spirit and enable minority- and women-owned small businesses,” said Johnny Moore, Tennessee regional president for Truist. “Through our partnership and the Spark Innovation Center, minority entrepreneurs from East Tennessee will be able to build the skill sets and networks necessary to launch and build successful companies. It’s also another way we fulfill Truist’s purpose to inspire and build better lives and communities.”

Applications to participate in Cohort 2 of the “Spark Cleantech Accelerator” open in January.