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WSSU is first campus to partner with ELETE for healthy dining, job mentorship

Chris Paul Foundation, Village Juice and Kitchen are key affiliates

Winston-Salem State University is the first campus to support the ELETE Experience, Inc. program, which aims to increase healthy dining and entrepreneurial mentorship opportunities for students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

ELETE is working with Village Juice & Kitchen (VJK), The United Negro College Fund (UNCF), The Chris Paul Foundation and other partners to address systemic barriers and increase access to experiential learning while simultaneously improving on-campus healthy dining.

VJK is a local juice company in Winston-Salem with a new location in the WSSU Donald J. Reeves Student Activities Center. It sells cold-pressed juices, nut milks, smoothie bowls, salads and toast. VJK and ELETE share the goal of ensuring that underrepresented and underserved communities can access highly nutritious food on campus while opening doors for students to gain exposure to innovation, commercialization and entrepreneurship.

Picture of a salad

Chris Paul, a 12-time NBA All-Star and an alumnus of WSSU, is proud to lend his support and that of his family foundation to the local cause, stating, “As a proud graduate of Winston-Salem State University, I am excited to support ELETE and the opening of the VJK location on campus that will offer a healthier, plant-based menu. ELETE’s unique student mentorship program will inspire entrepreneurship opportunities in emerging sectors. It’s a win-win for everyone.”

“We are excited to be on-campus at Winston-Salem State University with our pilot program,” said Nathan Atkinson, ELETE’s interim director. “Students will serve as student executive officers (SEOs), receiving pay, cash stipends, academic credit and scholarship assistance, while learning business skills, participating in workshops and learning from professionals in their related fields. Upon successfully completing the program, students are guaranteed employment with either VJK or one of our supporting corporate partners.”

ELETE creates connections between HBCU students, industry experts and renowned leaders in each student’s area of interest, focusing on creating genuine and meaningful student experiences.

WSSU students will be selected through an application and evaluation process that is designed and overseen by the ELETE board. Policies are being drafted for the next round of applications this summer, Atkinson said.

UNCF has committed to two full scholarships per year to the program for the next five years to UNCF-supported schools. ELETE is working on acquiring similar support for non-UNCF supported schools.

 “I am thrilled to collaborate in the program’s design and to contribute supplemental funding for the ELETE Program on campus,” said Dr. Notis Pagiavlas, director of WSSU’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Social Innovation. “This unique educational experience provides our aspiring entrepreneurial students a great opportunity to acquire hands-on skills prior to graduating.”

“It takes a lot of creativity and passion to reach today’s students. We are always looking for opportunities to inspire them, and we believe the ELETE Program has the potential to create genuine, life-changing opportunities for the right students,” said Dr. Manju Bhat, Dean of the College of Arts, Sciences, Business and Education at WSSU. “We are excited to have VJK on campus and for Winston-Salem State University to serve as the inaugural campus for the program.”

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About ELETE: The ELETE Program offers financial and organizational support for a mission-driven collaboration between The United Negro College Fund, Village Juice & Kitchen, Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs), and other forward-thinking universities and corporate partners. Throughout the semester, the ELETE Program instructs students on essential business skills through a variety of interactive, professional workshops. This partnership introduces students to key management skills and a healthy, plant-based dining option on campuses, opening avenues for research on its impact.

About Winston-Salem State University: Winston-Salem State University fosters the creative thinking, analytical problem-solving, and depth of character needed to transform the world. Rooted in liberal education, WSSU’s curriculum prepares students to be thought leaders who have the skills and knowledge needed to develop innovative solutions to complex problems. Founded in 1892, WSSU is a historically Black constituent institution of the University of North Carolina with a rich tradition of contributing to the social, cultural, intellectual, and economic growth of North Carolina, the region, and beyond. Guided by the motto, “Enter to Learn, Depart to Serve,” WSSU develops leaders who advance social justice by serving the world with compassion and commitment.

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