JSU students compete in Thurgood Marshall’s pitch competition, presented by Apple

Nine Jackson State University students were selected by the Thurgood Marshall College Fund to join 91 other Historically Black College and University students from 36 other HBCUs, to compete in THE PITCH 2019, presented by Apple. The challenging entrepreneurial competition will be held May 15 – 23, in Durham, North Carolina.

Students selected from JSU are: Biruk Abate, Amanuel Gebre, Chawne Harris, Shanice Hopson, Derrick Jackson, Damian Murray, Zacchaeus Simmons, Opeoluwa Williams and Armani Wooden.



 “I am extremely excited to participate in ‘The Pitch 2019′ and hopefully the competition will continue to help me grow professionally” said Damian Murray, now a JSU alum after graduating May 4 with a bachelor’s in finance.

Earlier this year, Murray, Simmons and Hopson participated in a similar competition called “Moguls in the Making” sponsored by Ally Financial, the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, and Big Sean, Grammy Award-nominated artist.

“I’m honored to have been selected for this event. Participating in ‘Moguls in the Making’ competition has prepared me for ‘The Pitch.’ I know what it takes and what is expected to win,” said Simmons, a rising senior and industrial technology major.” I see a lot of similarities in both events. We will receive problems that we have to solve and come up with innovative ideas to overcome our task. Maybe the technical side will be a little different, but I can’t wait.

TMCF’s newly re-designed Innovation & Entrepreneurship Division identified the talented HBCU students who will be tasked with developing solutions to business, social, or educational problems and then pitching their ideas to an expert panel of judges comprised of entrepreneurs, small business owners, executives, venture capitalists, and other investors. THE PITCH 2019 is the optimum opportunity for HBCU students to learn, engage in hands-on exercises, and develop the three C’s of an Entrepreneurial Mindset: Curiosity, Connections, and Creating value.



“In today’s evolving globally diverse marketplace we have to ensure that America’s HBCU students are first given the tools to enhance their talents and the opportunities to present their skills,” said George Spencer, TMCF executive vice president of business development and innovation & entrepreneurship. “The Pitch 2019 is one of the best opportunities around for our most creative, and entrepreneurial HBCU minds to solve real-world problems through their innovative solutions.”

Throughout the conference, students will hear from industry experts that will provide training sessions led by event partners like the CIA, Deere & Company and Wells Fargo. Scheduled industry speakers and expert judges include Michael Doernberg, CEO and co-founder, ReverbNation, Ebony Pope, principal, Rethink Education, Davon Snipes, strategy lead, Office of the CIO, Google, and Terrence J, actor, host, producer, and TMCF national ambassador.

“I am really excited to be a judge for TMCF’s The Pitch 2019,” said Terrence J. “As an entrepreneur myself, I have tremendous respect for these HBCU students competing to use innovation to find solutions through technology.”

In past years, prizes for the winning teams have included an opportunity to attend Apple’s WWDC conference, Leadership Exchange Study Abroad Scholarship, Macbooks, and iPads.

For more information about TMCF programs, visit: www.tmcf.org


Established in 1987, the Thurgood Marshall College Fund is the nation’s largest organization exclusively representing the Black College Community. TMCF member-schools include the publicly-supported Historically Black Colleges and Universities and predominantly black institutions, enrolling nearly 80% of all students attending black colleges and universities. Through scholarships, capacity building and research initiatives, innovative programs and strategic partnerships, TMCF is a vital resource in the K-12 and higher education space. The organization is also the source of top employers seeking top talent for competitive internships and good jobs.

TMCF is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, charitable organization.

For more information about TMCF, visit: www.tmcf.org.