Cecilia Russo Marketing Grants Empower Entrepreneurs to Make a Difference

Cecilia Russo Marketing Grants Empower Entrepreneurs to Make a Difference

Three small business owners in Georgia receive grants and mentorship to expand their ventures and create positive change in their communities.

In a world that often overlooks the voices and dreams of small business owners, the Cecilia Russo Marketing 15th Anniversary Entrepreneurship Grant is providing a platform for entrepreneurs to shine. The grant, which honors the firm’s anniversary and National Entrepreneurship Month, has awarded three deserving winners with $5,000 each to expand their businesses. But the grants are just the beginning. Founder Cecilia Russo Turner is also offering mentorship to the winners and 15 finalists, providing valuable resources and celebrating their successes. This article explores the stories of the grant winners and the impact they are making in their respective fields.

Special needs superheroes: Carmella Alexander’s inclusive storytelling

For Carmella Alexander, founder of C.A. Publishing, the journey towards empowering children with special needs began with her son, Amir. Born with a rare epilepsy disorder, Amir inspired Alexander to create stories that would help children like him see their uniqueness in a positive light. Recognizing the lack of representation for the special needs community, Alexander wrote “Fearless, the Amazing Boy with Special Abilities,” a story that follows Amir’s adventures meeting and helping superheroes who share his special abilities. Through her grant, Alexander plans to take “Fearless” to local children’s hospitals, schools, and libraries, spreading the message of inclusivity. She also intends to create story plush dolls to make imaginative play more accessible for children with limited mobility.

Music as a way of overcoming obstacles: Rickey Brown III’s RBIII Academy

For Rickey Brown III, founder of RBIII Academy, music is not just a form of expression but a tool for overcoming challenges. After graduating from Howard University during the pandemic, Brown faced limited performance opportunities and turned to teaching. As his students expressed a desire to continue their studies with him, RBIII Academy was born. Beyond teaching music, Brown aims to help his students manage their emotions and experiences through creative expression. With the grant money, Brown plans to purchase more equipment and improve RBIII’s computer programs. He also aims to incorporate song engineering into the academy’s curriculum, providing his students with a comprehensive musical education.

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Creating a buzz with granola: Maggie Lilly’s Party of Hive

Maggie Lilly, founder of Party of Hive, found her entrepreneurial calling in an unexpected place—the school cafeteria. Using leftover oats, Lilly started making granola for the teachers, receiving rave reviews in the process. Encouraged by their support, she decided to turn her passion into a business. Party of Hive’s superfood-packed granola quickly gained popularity, leading Lilly to rent a commercial kitchen and expand her reach to retailers. With the grant money, Lilly plans to generate more buzz for Party of Hive as it expands to new locations. Beyond providing healthy snacks, Lilly hopes her success will inspire others to pursue their own passions.


The Cecilia Russo Marketing 15th Anniversary Entrepreneurship Grant has not only provided financial support to small business owners but also offered mentorship and resources to help them succeed. Carmella Alexander, Rickey Brown III, and Maggie Lilly are three inspiring entrepreneurs who are making a difference in their communities. Through inclusive storytelling, music education, and nutritious snacks, they are empowering individuals with special needs, fostering creativity, and promoting healthier lifestyles. These entrepreneurs exemplify the unstoppable spirit of entrepreneurship, and their ventures are shaping a brighter future for us all.