PenFed Foundation Announces 'Black History Month Ignition Challenge' Top 15 Finalists

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

February 1, 2021 4:24 PM EST

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TYSONS, Va., Feb. 1, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- 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


Haven for Hero's

Juan Biddix, Jr.       

Mario Mitchell

U.S. Marine Corps Veteran         

U.S. Air Force Veteran


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.

About PenFed FoundationFounded in 2001, the PenFed Foundation is a national nonprofit organization committed to empowering military service members, veterans and their communities with the skills and resources to realize financial stability and opportunity. It provides service members, veterans, their families and support networks with the skills and resources they need to improve their lives through programs on financial education, homeownership, veteran entrepreneurship and short-term assistance. Affiliated with PenFed Credit Union, the Foundation has the resources to effectively reach military communities across the nation, build strong partnerships, and engage a dedicated corps of volunteers in its mission. The credit union funds the Foundation's personnel and most operational costs, demonstrating its strong commitment to the programs the Foundation provides. Equal Housing Opportunity. To learn more, visit


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SOURCE PenFed Foundation

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