PenFed Foundation announces ‘Black History Month Ignition Challenge’ Top 15 finalists

TYSONS, VA (February 2, 2021)

The PenFed Foundation, a national 501(c)3 founded by PenFed Credit Union, today announced the top 15 finalists for 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.

The PenFed Foundation Veteran Entrepreneur Investment Program (VEIP) received over 55 proposals for new businesses and ideas and the VEIP Selection Committee selected the top 15 finalists. The finalists’ pitches and stories are posted on the VEIP website and the community is invited to vote for their favorite business idea now through February 17. The three entrepreneurs who receive the most votes will pitch their companies to PenFed Credit Union leadership on February 25. The winner of the pitch competition will receive a grant of $15,000, while second place will receive $10,000 and third will receive $5,000.

“PenFed Foundation is proud to celebrate Black History Month and to announce these top 15 innovative finalists,” said PenFed Foundation President and retired Army General John W. Nicholson, Jr. “We look forward to seeing how the community votes. The Foundation will continue to support veteran businesses and the greater Black and military communities this month and beyond.”

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

The 15 finalists are:

Hilda Alexander                                                      Radiah Mallard
U.S. Navy Veteran                                                         U.S. Air Force Veteran
Sweet Christi’s                                                                Plan The Course

Shon Barnwell                                                        Robert Marshall
U.S. Air Force Veteran                                                 U.S. Army Veteran
Barnwell Publishing                                                      Dapper Guru

Belinda Barnes                                                      Barzel McKinney                   
U.S. Army Veteran                                                        U.S. Army Veteran
GreenBeings                                                                    Haven for Hero’s

Juan Biddix, Jr.                                                     Mario Mitchell
U.S. Marine Corps Veteran                                        U.S. Air Force Veteran
SargeFitt                                                                         Code Legion

Natasha Hinds                                                       Bilal Muhammad
 U.S. Army Veteran                                                     U.S. Air Force Veteran
Keep Your Hair Headgear                                         Black Harvest Farms

Dr. Keith James                                                    Tarena Muhammad
U.S. Air Force Veteran                                               U.S. Air Force Veteran
Eye Smile Optometry & Dental Care                      TM Consulting International LLC 

JT Liddell                                                                Chasity Wright
U.S. Army Veteran                                                      U.S. Air Force Veteran
Promenade AI                                                              Infiltron Software Suite

Michael Loyd
U.S. Marine Corps Veteran
Dope Coffee Company

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.

Challenge Supports Black Military Entrepreneurs; Public Invited to Vote for Favorite Business Idea Online Feb. 1-17

About PenFed Foundation

Founded in 2001, The PenFed Foundation is a national nonprofit organization that supports veterans in their transition from service to success. Affiliated with PenFed Credit Union, the Foundation has provided more than $50 million in financial support to veterans, active-duty service members and military families. The credit union funds the Foundation's personnel and most operational costs, allowing 99% of incoming donations to go directly to our programs. To learn more, please visit


Abagail Chambers
Account Coordinator
+1 724 366 0397

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