U.S. Black Chambers Inc. has launched an initiative to nurture the next generation of young black male entrepreneurs, with a focus on closing the economic gap and providing positive role models in the community.

Anthony Hales’ story is much too common. He graduated from Jackson State University, landed account-executive positions with two major regional radio stations and later did public relations work in Washington, D.C. Hales did all the right things but then hit a glass ceiling. He applied for a job opening at his company. Hales says he had the perfect qualifications for the promotion but was passed over. That was the turning point.

“You get tired of dealing with the issues of being a minority in corporate America,” says the Mississippi native. “I decided to stop stressing and build my own [company].”

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Hales, 30, launched his own company last year. He’s now transitioning from his day job to Hales Creative Solutions. His Washington, D.C.-based company provides a range of services, from graphic designing and Web development to business consulting.

Racial discrimination in the job market is real. A 2004 landmark Princeton University study showed that employers preferred to hire white applicants with criminal records to blacks who had never served time.

Ten years later, whites who never finished high school had a lower unemployment rate than blacks with some college education, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. And the New York Times chronicled the struggle of recent black college graduates to find work compared with their white counterparts.

After freelancing before his launch, Hales started with a small client base that generously recommended his services. He now has a few large corporate clients and the ability to hire three people. “We’re growing and building at a steady rate,” he says.

Still, he faces a number of challenges in getting to the next level. Hales admits to a few “hiccups” along the way and lacking some of the “educational pieces” in his skill set to cement his success.

U.S. Black Chambers Inc. launched its Young Black Male Entrepreneur Institute to nurture businessmen like Hales. USBC is an association of over 115 independent black chambers of commerce and small-business associations nationwide.

USBC launched the pilot program last month in Washington, D.C., with plans to expand nationwide. The institute provides a specialized curriculum, based on the nation’s top business schools, while drawing on the practical experience of businesspeople, who serve as mentors and advisers, explains Howard Jean, who designed the program with his partner, Keith Benjamin.

Originally posted: Brothers in Business: Fighting Discrimination With Their Own Drive

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