Disney Continues Collaboration With Russell Center Innovation Center for Entrepreneurs Bringing Support To Over $1 Million

The Russell Innovation Center for Entrepreneurs (RICE) announced today that Disney Experiences renewed, for the third consecutive year, its commitment to RICE’s Supply Chain Accelerator Program (SCAP), which prepares Black entrepreneurs to do business in the public and private sectors, including with Fortune 500 companies. Disney also expanded their support to sponsor the development of Digital RICE, a virtual platform that will help entrepreneurs nationwide. These newest investments bring Disney’s total contribution to more than $1 million, solidifying the company as the lead sponsor of both initiatives.

“Disney’s commitment to fostering diversity within the business world is incredibly important,” stated Jay Bailey, President and CEO, Russell Innovation Center for Entrepreneurs. “Disney’s sponsorship of RICE not only grants our entrepreneurs unique insights into the company’s operations, but also facilitates the expansion of opportunities, at a time when achieving equitable access has never been more imperative.”

The company’s sponsorship of Digital RICE will expand the nonprofit’s reach beyond Atlanta, removing geographic barriers to access the knowledge and expertise offered by RICE programs. Digital RICE will be a dynamic platform meticulously crafted to connect the community and provide comprehensive support for the growth and success of Black-owned businesses, offering tailored assistance, a plethora of resources, and personalized advice.

“In 2023, we built upon our ongoing support of small businesses and organizations like RICE to grow talent, economic impact in the areas we do business, and help develop the workforce of the

future,” said Ralph Sagaille, Director of Supplier Diversity and Sustainability at The Walt Disney Company. “In 2024, we’ll continue to push towards our goal of spending $1 billion annually with diverse suppliers, benefiting from the fresh perspectives of the small businesses we work with, which helps us constantly evolve and expand the way we do business.”

In addition to its financial investments, Disney Experiences also provides enrichment opportunities for RICE throughout the year, including a 3-day immersive learning event at Walt Disney World Resort for SCAP businesses, 66% of which are women-led. Earlier this week, 48 Black-owned businesses visited Walt Disney World to take part in hands-on, experiential opportunities like workshops on pitching to investors and social media strategy, panel discussions on quality service, and executive networking sessions. Participants also had exclusive opportunities to experience the Candlelight Processional at EPCOT and the theme park’s all-new nighttime spectacular, “Luminous The Symphony of Us.”

Since its launch in 2019, RICE has been actively leading initiatives like the Supply Chain Accelerator to foster economic empowerment opportunities for Black business owners. Additionally, RICE provides comprehensive wraparound resources to support the full lifecycle of the entrepreneurial journey.

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