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Lincoln Stephens talks Marcus Graham Project in partnership with Hennessy

To discuss the initiative, REVOLT caught up with Lincoln Stephens, the co-founder of The Marcus Graham Project, to get more insight about the program and his thoughts on Black entrepreneurs.

Lincoln Stephens Marcus Graham Project

Hennessy is putting their money where your mouth is, as you indulge in the world’s most popular cognac. The spirits company is joining forces with Marcus Graham project to co-create the “Never Stop Never Settle Society (NSNSS).”

As REVOLT previously reported, this initiative’s mission is to support future generations of Black entrepreneurs with high-impact funding, empowerment and education tools that will push the limits of their potential and help them to make an impact on the world.

This collaboration was first introduced when the “Dear Destiny” creative debuted during the 2021 NAACP Images Awards on BET back in March. The commercial starred Grammy Award-winning hip hop legend Nas, who also executive produced it, and highlighted the legacy of Black Wall Street and the Black entrepreneurs who embody the Never Stop Never Settle spirit.

“The ‘Never Stop Never Settle Society’ builds on Hennessy’s long-standing commitment to Black communities and ongoing mission to champion cultural diversity by pushing the limits of potential for Black entrepreneurs,” says Jasmin Allen, Senior Vice President, Hennessy US. “We aim to expand on that legacy in the most impactful and meaningful ways by providing access to capital and resources to those demonstrating the ability to reshape Black communities through social impact.”

To discuss the initiative, REVOLT caught up with Lincoln Stephens, co-founder of the Marcus Graham Project, to get more insight in the program and his thoughts on Black entrepreneurs. Check out the chat below.

1. Explain what the Marcus Graham Project is and its mission.

MGP, inspired by Eddie Murphy’s character in the 1992 film Boomerang, is focused on bringing more racial diversity to the media, marketing and advertising industries through a pretty rigorous set of experiences. Our project-based training programs help narrow the gap by providing mentorship, exposure, and career development that is often unavailable in higher education programs or as part of what used to be called on-the-job-training.

2. As a Black professional in your field – often times the only Black person in certain spaces – how important is it for you to try to change that and increase the quantity of Black people at your level?

It’s incredibly important and the reason why I co-founded Marcus Graham Project. Representation matters, and diversity of thought and perspective at all levels and especially the leadership level yields better business practice and results. Diverse, equitable and inclusive workplaces positively impact performance, innovation and improve culture.

3. What made you partner with Hennessy?

Hennessy has been a long-time partner of the Marcus Graham Project, first supporting our annual Gala and over time through their Bootcamp fellowship program, where the leaders of tomorrow are tasked with creating an agency and tackling real-time business challenges for brands. In the LA Winter Bootcamp of 2020, V.S Brand Senior Director Deon Harris challenged a group of students with a Hennessy brief for Black History Month, charging them with a movement and platform to make it “more than a month” for 2021.

In the spirit of making Black history more than a month, the Hennessy “Never Stop Never Settle Society” was created as a comprehensive growth accelerator co-created with the Marcus Graham Project that ensures a more equitable landscape for Black entrepreneurship. The $1M acceleration fund will provide Black entrepreneurs with high-impact funding, resources, and infrastructure to further their journeys and ultimately transform communities.

4. Why is Black ownership vital to American society? How does it improve it?

Black ownership builds economic vitality, inspires communities, and galvanizes productivity and strength. That’s why I decided to partner with Hennessy for the “Never Stop Never Settle Society” initiative, which builds on Hennessy’s commitment to Black communities and ongoing mission to champion cultural diversity by pushing the limits of potential for Black entrepreneurs.

Drawing inspiration from Tulsa’s hub of Black cultural activity, the “Never Stop Never Settle Society” is inspired by the Black entrepreneurs who rose then and who rise again today — with a mission to support the Black entrepreneurs who are redefining tomorrow. The celebration of Black resilience is one that Hennessy has long supported and will continue to support through the launch of the “Never Stop Never Settle Society,” which will focus on changing the narrative of Black success by championing the next generation of Black entrepreneurs.

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