PenFed Foundation announces ‘Black History Month Ignition Challenge’ to support black veteran and military spouse entrepreneurs

Black veterans and military spouses are invited to submit proposals to PenFed Foundation’s Veteran Entrepreneur Investment Program (VEIP) for funding to help their businesses overcome challenges and continue positive community impact

TYSONS, VA (January 12, 2021) — The PenFed Foundation, a national 501(c)3 founded by PenFed Credit Union, today announced the launch of the PenFed Foundation Black History Month Ignition Challenge. The challenge supports Black veteran, active duty, guard, reserve, and military spouse entrepreneurs by helping them to identify their business impact and goals, and providing an opportunity to compete to win funding and mentorship.

“PenFed is proud to celebrate Black History Month and support the Veteran Entrepreneur Investment Program’s Ignition Challenge for Black entrepreneurs,” said PenFed President/CEO and PenFed Foundation CEO James Schenck. “The program is designed to highlight, celebrate and support Black veteran and military spouse entrepreneurs and their positive community impact.”

Proposals for new businesses and ideas can be submitted via the PenFed Foundation Veteran Entrepreneur Investment Program (VEIP) website here through January 18. The VEIP Selection Committee will review all proposals and select the top 10-20 submissions. Participants’ pitches and photos will be posted on the VEIP website and the community is invited to vote for their favorite idea February 1 through 17. The winner with the most votes will receive $15,000 in funding, while second place will receive $10,500 and third will receive $5,000.

Additionally, VEIP staff will provide coaching and support to the winning entrepreneurs to help each fine-tune their business and help to further position them for future success.

Today at 2:00 p.m. ET, PenFed Digital will host a live discussion on the PenFed Facebook page as part of the challenge kick-off. Thereasa Black, a US Naval Officer and VEIP Master’s Program participant, will join PenFed Credit Union’s Senior Vice President of Global Fixed Assets/retired US Marine Corps Brigadier General Terry V. Williams and PenFed Foundation’s Director of Outreach/retired US Army Command Sergeant Major David M. Clark to share insights about her experience as a Black veteran entrepreneur and CEO of Bon AppéSweet.

“We’re incredibly proud to work alongside veteran entrepreneurs and military spouses to empower them as they pursue their aspirations for civilian life and realize their career goals,” said PenFed Foundation President and retired Army General John W. Nicholson, Jr. “This program provides a meaningful way to celebrate Black History Month and support veteran businesses and the greater Black and military communities.”

Founded in 2018, VEIP has a three-pronged approach to create a robust network for veteran-owned start-ups and businesses:

  1. Investment of seed capital, providing access to other capital investment programs and connecting entrepreneurs to funders;
  2. Preparation through the Master’s Program, a year-long fundraising accelerator; and
  3. Education through virtual and in-person Pop-Up Lab workshops.

The PenFed Foundation was created in 2001 and, since then, has provided more than $38.5 million in financial support to veterans, active-duty service members, families and caregivers.

About PenFed Foundation

Founded in 2001, the PenFed Foundation is a national nonprofit organization committed to empowering military service members, veterans and their communities with the skills and resources to realize financial stability and opportunity. It provides service members, veterans, their families and support networks with the skills and resources they need to improve their lives through programs on financial education, homeownership, veteran entrepreneurship and short-term assistance. Affiliated with PenFed Credit Union, the Foundation has the resources to effectively reach military communities across the nation, build strong partnerships, and engage a dedicated corps of volunteers in its mission. The credit union funds the Foundation’s personnel and most operational costs, demonstrating its strong commitment to the programs the Foundation provides. Equal Housing Opportunity. To learn more, visit


Audrey Garden
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