Johnson-Brown Innovation And Opportunity Center Established At CCU

April 08, 2022

Coastal Carolina University has announced the establishment of the Johnson-Brown Innovation and Opportunity Center, which is designed to engage underrepresented youth and young adults in activities geared toward increasing the likelihood of their academic and career success. Funded by generous support from Conway, S.C., residents T.J. Johnson, and Thomas P. Brown Jr., his wife, Jessie Campbell Brown, and their son, Thomas P. Brown III, the center will focus on entrepreneurship and innovation, life and leadership skills, technology, personal financial literacy, and service.

Administered through CCU’s College of Graduate and Continuing Studies, the center also will emphasize workforce development across the disciplines, entrepreneurship alliances with local employers, and college completion programs using workforce skills. In addition, it will fund graduate entrepreneurship fellows.

“This new center will provide an opportunity for our graduate students to draw on the knowledge they’ve gained in the classroom and actively engage the community, especially our underserved and rural neighbors, in ways that will promote their academic success and drive economic improvement through the development of career-ready skills,” said J. Lee Brown III, dean of the College of Graduate and Continuing Studies.

The fellows will collaborate with CCU’s Each 1 Teach 1 (E1T1) Entrepreneurship Institute to help students develop a concept, product, or service idea, learn marketing and sales skills, and draw upon the resources, databases, and the expertise of CCU’s faculty and staff. As a graduation enhancement institute, ElTl will provide age-appropriate content and relevant applied experiences to help ensure that high school students will be college, career, and military ready.

In a shared statement, the donors said: “T.J. Johnson and the Thomas P. Brown Jr. family are pleased to establish the Johnson-Brown Innovation and Opportunity Center in the College of Graduate and Continuing Studies. Through this center’s focus on providing innovative and project-based activities, underrepresented youth and young adults will be prepared to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Acknowledging the challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, students will develop and apply entrepreneurial leadership and technological knowledge and skills in real-world settings.

“By establishing this center, we are blessed to be able to support the community and the Each 1 Teach 1 Entrepreneurship Institute by creating opportunities to help vulnerable youth and young adults become successful now and in their futures.”

The collaboration between the Johnson-Brown Innovation and Opportunity Center and E1T1 will be facilitated by a shared advisory committee consisting of founding donors, directors, and other stakeholders. The two programs will collaborate and share resources with regards to equipment, facilities, guest speakers, mentorship opportunities, field experiences, fundraising staff, and other areas.

“We are so grateful to Mr. Johnson and the Brown family for always being advocates for Coastal Carolina University and for having the vision for this center as well as investing in it,” said Diane Sanders, CCU’s vice president for advancement and alumni engagement. “The center will certainly enhance the University and impact our students, and the students it serves, in so many ways.”