Disney Increases Contributions to Russell Center Programs for Black Entrepreneurs, Bringing Total Support to Over $1 Million

The Russell Innovation Center for Entrepreneurs (RICE) announced that Disney Experiences renewed, for the third consecutive year, its commitment to RICE’s Supply Chain Accelerator Program (SCAP), which prepares Black entrepreneurs to do business in the public and private sectors, including with Fortune 500 companies. Disney also expanded their support to sponsor the development of Digital RICE, a virtual platform that will help entrepreneurs nationwide. These newest investments bring Disney’s total contribution to more than $1 million, solidifying the company as the lead sponsor of both initiatives.

“Disney’s commitment to fostering diversity within the business world is incredibly important,” stated Jay Bailey, President and CEO, Russell Innovation Center for Entrepreneurs. “Disney’s sponsorship of RICE not only grants our entrepreneurs unique insights into the company’s operations, but also facilitates the expansion of opportunities, at a time when achieving equitable access has never been more imperative.”

The company’s sponsorship of Digital RICE will expand the nonprofit’s reach beyond Atlanta, removing geographic barriers to access the knowledge and expertise offered by RICE programs. Digital RICE will be a dynamic platform meticulously crafted to connect the community and provide comprehensive support for the growth and success of Black-owned businesses, offering tailored assistance, a plethora of resources, and personalized advice.

“In 2023, we built upon our ongoing support of small businesses and organizations like RICE to grow talent, economic impact in the areas we do business, and help develop the workforce of the future,” said Ralph Sagaille, Director of Supplier Diversity and Sustainability at The Walt Disney Company. “In 2024, we’ll continue to push towards our goal of spending $1 billion annually with diverse suppliers, benefiting from the fresh perspectives of the small businesses we work with, which helps us constantly evolve and expand the way we do business.”

In addition to its financial investments, Disney Experiences also provides enrichment opportunities for RICE throughout the year, including a 3-day immersive learning event at Walt Disney World Resort for SCAP businesses, 66% of which are women-led. Earlier this week, 48 Black-owned businesses visited Walt Disney World to take part in hands-on, experiential opportunities like workshops on pitching to investors and social media strategy, panel discussions on quality service, and executive networking sessions. Participants also had exclusive opportunities to experience the Candlelight Processional at EPCOT and the theme park’s all-new nighttime spectacular, “Luminous The Symphony of Us.”

Since its launch in 2019, RICE has been actively leading initiatives like the Supply Chain Accelerator to foster economic empowerment opportunities for Black business owners. Additionally, RICE provides comprehensive wraparound resources to support the full lifecycle of the entrepreneurial journey.

The Russell Innovation Center for Entrepreneurs (RICE) is Atlanta’s home for Black entrepreneurs. Positioned as a business generator, RICE serves as an economic mobility engine for the community: driving entrepreneurs and small business owners to innovate, grow, create jobs, and build wealth. Inspired by the legacy of Herman J. Russell, one of the most successful Black entrepreneurs and civic leaders in Atlanta, RICE remains dedicated to its mission to Build. Black. Business. and stands as the only initiative of its kind in the nation. For more information visit www.RussellCenter.org, download the RICE Report Volume 1, and follow @RICEAtlanta on Instagram and Twitter and @RussellCenterAtlanta on Facebook.

Disney Experiences brings the magic of The Walt Disney Company’s powerful brands and franchises — including Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, ESPN, 20th Century Fox, and National Geographic — into the daily lives of families and fans around the world to create magical memories that last a lifetime. When Walt Disney opened Disneyland in Anaheim, California, on July 17, 1955, he created a unique destination built around storytelling and immersive experiences, ushering in a new era of family entertainment. More than 65 years later, Disney has grown into one of the world’s leading providers of family travel and leisure experiences, with iconic businesses including six resort destinations with 12 theme parks and 55 resorts in the United States, Europe, and Asia; a top-rated cruise line with five ships and plans for three more; a luxurious family beach resort in Hawai‘i; a popular vacation ownership program; and an award-winning guided family adventure business. Disney’s global consumer products operations include the world’s leading licensing business; the world’s largest children’s publishing brands; one of the world’s largest licensors of games across all platforms; and the shopDisney e-commerce platform. These experiences are created by Disney Imagineers, the creative force behind experiences found in Disney theme parks, resort hotels, cruise ships and consumer products — including books, games and merchandise.