DURHAM — MetLife Foundation announced the 24 nonprofits that will benefit from its two-year, $10 million Accelerating Commitment to Equity Innovation Fund (ACE Innovation Fund) on Tuesday — including a Durham-based initiative from Forward Cities focused on Black Wall Street.

According to the Forward Cities website, The Black Wall Street Forward initiative is “modeled on the pillars that made Durham’s original Black Wall Street successful, and aims to continue the legacy of this vibrant work by supporting and catalyzing local leaders, Black business owners, and champions.”

The 2023 Grant Recipients booklet from MetLife states that the grant will “accelerate the action learning network of Black entrepreneurs and community development organizations, shaping narratives that change the way the community sees and supports Black entrepreneurs.”

Forward Cities has posted this video on YouTube to share more about the history of the original Black Wall Street and current efforts to keep the legacy and impact alive.


“We are living in a dynamic environment that requires us to address the most pressing issues of today head on, while advancing our work for the future,” said Tia Hodges, President and CEO of MetLife Foundation and Head of Corporate Giving and Employee Volunteerism at MetLife, in the press release. “Our vision for the ACE Innovation Fund is to address the growing income and wealth divide and instill confidence for the future by investing in the visionary, bold, and forward-looking solutions of today’s leaders and non-profits.”

In addition to the Black Wall Street Forward initiative, three other Triangle-based programs received funding through the ACE Innovation Fund: a first-time homebuyer program from the Durham-based Community Empowerment Fund, a finhealth program from the Croatan Institute, and an economic mobility project from MDC.

For more on the grant recipients, check out the 2023 Grant Recipients booklet or view the MetLife Foundation website.