Center for Professional Services

Creating Opportunities for Underserved Individuals and Communities

About Us

At the Institute, we focus on moving minority entrepreneurs and businesses forward, leveraging tools and relationships across our organization. As the Institute’s consulting arm, the Center for Professional Services helps public agencies, community organizations, and the corporate sector play more effective roles in support of equitable economic ecosystems.

We can assist with market analysis, organizational assessments, industry coaching, program development and planning, sustainability, and opportunities sourcing. Our team of consultants specializes in four competencies:

  • Public and Private Collaborations
  • Supplier Inclusion
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)
  • Executive Management Education

Public and Private Collaborations

We serve as a trusted community hub, addressing economic disparities by:

  • Developing collaborative partnerships that maximize resources, talent, and expertise

  • Deploying community engagement strategies that target and/or deliver resources to underserved, marginalized communities

  • Incorporating growth-oriented business development models

We serve as a convener, planner and/or primary implementation partner in the areas of contracting, brand recognition and marketing, access to capital, human capital, workforce development, and technology.

Our technical assistance includes academic trainings, hands-on experiences, industry coaching and business mentoring. Our client-partners may include economic developers, corporate partners, chambers of commerce, trade associations, state agencies, local government, HBCUs, CDFIs, faith-based organizations and many more subject matter experts


Diversity, Equity, Inclusion (DEI)

We help corporations, public agencies, and organizational clients assess their programs to become community impactful. 

We offer an experienced approach to diversity, equity and inclusion that includes management and policy assessments; board, executive, and staff training; and other organizational development activities based on our clients’ needs and goals.

We help our clients identify their challenges and to understand and adopt policies and practices to create more equitable and inclusive workplaces, institutions, and ultimately, communities.

Supplier Inclusion

Whether our client is a public agency or private corporation or institution, we can help develop and manage achievable yet high-impact objectives and outcomes for supplier inclusion programs. We offer a tested model for sourcing diverse businesses, coaching emerging suppliers and adopting sustainable best practices, heightening the growth experience for both new and established supplier diversity programs. 

Our goal always is to raise MWBE utilization rates and help shape a win-win ecosystem for our clients, MWBEs and whole communities. We leverage technology to build pipelines of diverse suppliers, track and analyze impact, manage client costs, and assist in scaling the supplier inclusion journey in real time.

Executive Management Education

Institute faculty recognizes the critical needs that support minority executives in developing resilience strategies and agile technologies, while defining and pursuing market share.


We collaborate with community stakeholders, educators, business thought leaders, researchers, industry best in class and successful MBE investors to customize executive training programs, including but not limited to the following:

Minority Executive Education Institute

The Minority Executive Education Institute (MEEI®) delivers comprehensive and robust graduate-level business education designed to help minority business executives strengthen and grow their companies.  Program features include:

  • Extensive course content based on proven best practices and research
  • Leading business experts from university and corporate partners
  • Access to new business resources through networking and strategic partnerships

MEEI® programming utilizes the talents of graduate-level professors from universities across North Carolina and leading business experts, creating a powerful learning experience that gives minority and women business owners concrete knowledge that can be used to grow revenue, enter new markets, or launch new product ideas.

Nonprofit Executive Education Program

This program aims to strengthen leadership capacities of non-profit organizations, including:

  • Driving change through Strategic Leadership
  • Nonprofit financial management
  • Capturing organizational Impact
  • Fundraising and marketing in a down economy

Executive Minority Planning in Real Estate (EMPIRE)

This program is designed to equip candidates with the tools necessary to share in the wealth building that commercial real estate development creates.  EMPIRE is designed for real estate practitioners, non-profit and community leaders, public sector decision makers and entrepreneurs who want to obtain a practical understanding of the real estate development process.


The Center for Professional Services (CPS) is the Institute’s consulting arm, offering services aligned with our non-profit mission and purpose to corporate, institutional, and public sector entities. Our overarching goals for this line of business include:

  • Be a trusted consultant to clients seeking an innovative thinker, coach and implementation partner with a well-grounded diversity, equity, and inclusion lens.
  • Execute high-quality projects that promise to positively impact communities and entrepreneurs that have been historically marginalized.
  • Add value with superior, adaptable subject matter expertise, intellectual property and well-vetted partnerships.
  • Create and build long-term rather than transactional relationships.

Below is an overview of some of our partnerships.

Durham County and Durham Public Schools

Durham County & Durham Public Schools

The CPS partnership with Durham County & Durham Public Schools was established to promote the development and growth of MWBE firms in Durham and surrounding communities, ensuring that they have an opportunity to do business with Durham County & Durham Public Schools. The program’s focus is to assist MWBE firms in participating in all aspects of the County’s procurement and contracting activities.  We’ve been successful in increasing the percentage of funds spent with MWBEs, growing the number of MWBE firms participating in outreach and training programs; and ensuring that MWBE project participation goals are met.

Durham County and Durham Public Schools
Thrive High Point | Minority Entrepreneurship Initiative logo

High Point Equity Project (THRIVE High Point)

The High Point Equity Project was created through a partnership between the Center for Professional Services and the Business High Point Chamber of Commerce to enhance the inclusive economic ecosystem in High Point.  Currently called THRIVE High Point, our goal is to support all local minority and women-owned businesses and budding entrepreneurs in their upward trajectory towards growth and success in High Point and surrounding communities.  Our services include, but are not limited to: counseling, coaching, training sessions with subject matter experts, access to capital, leadership development, and networking opportunities. All of our services and events are free!

Thrive High Point | Minority Entrepreneurship Initiative logo
University of North Carolina Charlotte

UNC Charlotte

The Institute’s turnkey services for diverse small businesses are a unique contribution to UNC Charlotte’s PORTAL Industry-University Partnership Hub, and to building a more equitable entrepreneurial ecosystem for the Charlotte region. The Institute’s Women’s Business Center (WBC) serves hundreds of aspiring or growing women-owned businesses annually, roughly 80% of whom are led by Black women, helping them overcome businesses challenges, build resiliency, and access capital they need to grow. Institute Capital (ICAP) is a US Treasury-certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), offering loans for small businesses and community development organizations who face a variety of systemic barriers to traditional financing. And the Institute’s Center for Professional Services offers consulting services to the public and private sector, helping to improve policies and pathways for diverse suppliers and help organizations commit to and achieve diversity, equity and inclusion. Co-locating these services in the PORTAL Building offers the Institute new visibility through a premier workspace and innovation center for regional and global business pioneers.  It’s an unusual combination, one not found on any other university campus in NC.

University of North Carolina Charlotte

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Center for Professional Services

Mailing Address:
114 W. Parrish Street
Durham, NC 27701

Phone: (919) 956-8889