Jackson State University recipient of $300K grant from The Propel Center, aims to promote student success in entertainment

(JACKSON, Miss.) — Jackson State University is receiving a $300,000 arts and entertainment grant from The Propel Center and Apple to enable its music students to explore aspirations and develop careers in the music industry.

Jackson State University will use proceeds from a $300K Propel Center grant to mold the next generation of music executives and professionals with the help of the Cortez Bryant Foundation.

“It was clear that Jackson State University had a distinct mission to support their students through the implementation of innovative research and technology to advance the opportunities of their students who desire to pursue careers in the entertainment industry. We salute JSU in this effort,” says Charles J. Gibbs, Ph.D., president of the Propel Center HBCU Consortium.

JSU President Thomas K. Hudson, J.D., (right) and Charles Gibbs, Ph.D., president of the Propel Center HBCU Consortium, showcase the spirit of collaboration.

Students from JSU’s music department will be selected to participate in the Cortez Bryant Foundation’s Creative Leadership for the Music Industry Professional Pipeline Program, where they will be immersed in co-curricular activities.

JSU Provost Alisa Mosley, Ph.D., says the grant is a resource in helping the university achieve goal one of its strategic plan – student success.  

“The project is merging creativity and technology to provide a signature comprehensive learning experience for our students who are looking to a future in music and entertainment. This is the beginning of our effort to develop the next wave of music industry professionals,” she says.

The grant also appears key to the Cortez Bryant Foundation’s mission, which according to its site, is to actuate and support innovative initiatives that develop and stimulate culturally relevant education and diverse and inclusive pathways to professional careers in entertainment, media and sports.

“The Cortez Bryant Foundation is thankful for the opportunity to serve as the industry partner for this groundbreaking collaboration,” says Nina Packer, philanthropic strategist for the foundation and author of the grant. “We are excited to create a pathway to the music industry for JSU music students through professional development and project-based learning opportunities.”

Entertainment mogul Cortez Bryant is in his second year of teaching a Careers in Music course at his alma mater JSU. He is looking to establish a music business school at the university in the future. For now, the creative leadership program is a way to further expose students to the outer and inner workings of the industry.

“This grant is really making a difference for HBCU youth through music and supporting the next generation of Black entertainment executives and artists. We are honored that they chose the Cortez Bryant Foundation and Jackson State University,” he shares.

Bryant explains that students will engage with music executives and professionals and have the opportunity to travel to Atlanta to record and/or produce a single with the full support of Apple resources.  

Bryant says the program is invaluable for a kid aspiring to be in and around the music business. He also points out the limited number of quality music internships available in Mississippi and how the program can help fill a void by giving students the hands-on training they may otherwise lack.  

“I’m excited,” says Bryant. “This is just the beginning of things that I plan on doing. It’s aligning with everything I wanted to do and really connecting the dots, especially starting here with my beloved alma mater to help create the next generation of music executives and artists.” 

JSU was one of 15 HBCUs selected from over 40 applicants that submitted proposals during the first round of grant awards by the Propel Center.