The Black Future Co-op Fund, University of Washington Foster School of Business’ Consulting and Business Development Center (CBDC), and Bank of America today announced a new partnership to build generational sustainability of Black-led businesses and nonprofits across Washington state.
“Black businesses and organizations have long been vital contributors to Washington state, yet purposeful and persistent anti-Blackness has undermined their opportunity to thrive,” says Angela Jones, J.D., Fund architect and Washington STEM CEO. “Through this partnership, we’re intentionally investing in Black well-being and building the infrastructure for generational wealth.”
With support from the Black Future Co-op Fund and a $500,000 grant from Bank of America, the CBDC is working with Black-led businesses and organizations across Washington to provide tailored technical assistance, leadership development training, financial management guidance, and help accessing funding.
“The CBDC was founded 26 years ago by the first Black tenured faculty member at the Foster School and the first Black Dean of the Foster School,” said Frank Hodge, Orin and Janet Smith Endowed Dean of the UW Foster School of Business. “This partnership with the Black Future Co-op Fund and Bank of America will enable us to take the next big step in removing systemic barriers and creating opportunities for wealth creation in Black-owned businesses. The initiative also brings crucial support to Black-led organizations that are leading powerful work to enrich Black generational prosperity and well-being.”
A recent listening tour conducted by the Black Future Co-op Fund identified more than 500 Black-owned business and Black-led organizations across Washington, and found at least 65 of identified businesses have closed in the last six months.
The Fund interviewed Black business owners who shared they have been hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic and resulting economic recession. Most are under-resourced and operating with little to no profit margin. Black-owned businesses also face significant hurdles accessing resources, such as small business grants, loans, or lines of credit, or culturally informed technical assistance.
While Black small business owners in particular have been disproportionally impacted during the pandemic, recent research from Bank of America based on a >national survey of 300 Black business owners found those still in operation remained resilient and flexible as they navigated through an evolving and uncertain business landscape. In response to the impacts from the pandemic, 48% of Black entrepreneurs reported retooling their operations – double that of the national average. However, Black business owners have overcome numerous obstacles with 82% reporting that they have worked harder to achieve success than their non-Black counterparts.
In response to the Black community’s feedback, this partnership is working to build the kind of support that will bolster Black prosperity over generations.
As part of this initiative, CBDC is expanding its board fellows program. Black graduate students at the UW will be matched with Black-led nonprofits for a 9-month board placement, bringing new skills and building the next generation of Black nonprofit board leaders.
Artists in Activism in Snohomish County and Takeall Foundation in Spokane are two of the Black-led organizations recently paired with graduate students. Both organizations are also working with the CBDC to strengthen their financial management and operations through the newly-formed partnership.
“Pervasive economic and social disparities only intensified during the global health crisis, and we see a clear and urgent need for intentional investment in and resources directed to Black businesses and nonprofit organizations,” said Jeremey Williams, market executive, Bank of America Seattle. “This investment is a further demonstration of Bank of America’s commitment to build local partnerships that help foster job creation, economic growth, and stability for Black-led Washington businesses that contribute so much to our community and economy.”
Bank of America’s contribution is aligned to the company’s $1.25-billion, five-year commitment to advance racial equality and economic opportunity. This commitment builds on steps the company has already taken, including program support for nonprofit community partners and lending assistance for small and minority-owned businesses through community development financial and minority depository institutions. Bank of America also recently increased its goal for equity investments in minority-focused funds to $350 million, including an equity investment in Portland-based Elevate Capital, which will put capital to work supporting minority and women entrepreneurs with early-stage funding across the Pacific Northwest and beyond.
Created by and for Black Washingtonians, the Black Future Co-op Fund is a new paradigm for philanthropy to ignite Black wealth, health, and well-being over generations. Through intentional investment, the Fund works to connect Black communities for collective power, promote a truthful Black narrative, and uplift Black-led solutions that foster Black generational prosperity. For more, visit: blackfuturewa.org./p>
UW Foster is a world-class business school in a pioneering city perched on the Pacific Rim. The world’s best and brightest leaders are here, applying ingenuity to better humanity. The Consulting and Business Development Center, now in its 26th year, advances student careers and grows businesses and jobs in communities where they’re needed the most with a core focus on supporting the growth of businesses owned by people of color. For more, visit: foster.uw.edu/consult.
At Bank of America, we’re guided by a common purpose to help make financial lives better, through the power of every connection. We’re delivering on this through responsible growth with a focus on our environmental, social and governance (ESG) leadership. ESG is embedded across our eight lines of business and reflects how we help fuel the global economy, build trust and credibility, and represent a company that people want to work for, invest in and do business with. It’s demonstrated in the inclusive and supportive workplace we create for our employees, the responsible products and services we offer our clients, and the impact we make around the world in helping local economies thrive. An important part of this work is forming strong partnerships with nonprofits and advocacy groups, such as community, consumer and environmental organizations, to bring together our collective networks and expertise to achieve greater impact. Connect with us on Twitter (@BofA_News).
Kara Palmer, Pyramid Communications (for the Black Future Co-op Fund)
Phone: 1.206.948.9822 (mobile)
Andrew Krueger, UW Foster
Phone: 1.206.697.1073 (mobile)
Britney Sheehan, Bank of America
Phone: 1.425.466.0378 (mobile)