A trio of organizations is establishing separate funds focused on people and communities of color.
Grand Rapids-based Rende Progress Capital (RPC), the Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area (CFHZ) and Charlotte, North Carolina-based Bank of America (BoA) — which has about a dozen Grand Rapids-area branch locations — separately reached out to the Business Journal about initiatives they are establishing to help fuel racial equity among individuals, entrepreneurs and communities of color.
Rende Progress Capital
RPC launched a loan fund to assist entrepreneurs of color
with COVID-19 recovery.
The firm said it established the RACE4Progress fund, which provides progressive, low-interest loans and a flexible application process for Kent County’s “excluded entrepreneurs.”
Eligible recipients are African American, Latino/Hispanic, Asian American, Native American and immigrant business owners who have experienced barriers to capital due to racial bias, negative impacts on their business due to COVID-19 and exclusion from some small business recovery initiatives.
The fund was co-developed by RPC and professionals of color representing some official partners, entrepreneur service organizations (ESOs) and businesses — Ana Jose, of the West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; Jamiel Robinson, of Grand Rapids Area Black Business; Jorge Gonzalez, of Start Garden; Kimberly Slaikeu, of Luxe Artisan Preserves; and Bing Goei, of Eastern Floral.
RPC said feedback it received locally from entrepreneurs mirrored surveys by the Global Strategy Group that reported that only 12% of African American and Latino business owners who applied for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans received what they asked for.
“Excluded entrepreneurs already face negative economic impacts due to inequity. COVID-19 has enhanced those barriers and impacts,” said Eric Foster, RPC co-founder, chair and managing director.
Supported by operational funding of $550,000 from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and $250,000 from the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, the fund will provide the following to local business owners of color meeting RPC’s racial equity criteria who can prove how COVID-19 has impacted their companies:
- 1% interest rate small business loans in amounts ranging from $10,000 to $25,000
- No principal and interest payments for the first 90 days after the loans are approved
- “Patient” loan terms from 12 months to 60 months
- Convenient application process with other flexible criteria that also is open to undocumented immigrant business owners
Those interested in applying for RACE4Progress funds can contact Kevin Davis, RPC opportunity and lending officer, for more information at [email protected] Additional information is at rendeprogresscapital.com/clients.
RPC is now accepting applications through its RACE4Progress fund portal at lending.rendeprogresscapital.com.
Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area
CFHZ announced $105,000 in grants from its Community’s Endowment that will be deployed to local organizations and initiatives working to address racial equity and implicit bias.
“The community foundation is uniquely suited to direct funding to local needs and opportunities as they arise, thanks to the flexibility of the Community’s Endowment,” said Mike Goorhouse, CFHZ president and CEO. “We don’t presume to have the answers to the difficult and complex problem of racism, but we believe it is of utmost importance to stand alongside our community in searching for those answers and to do our part to support this process with financial resources.”
The following organizations will receive funding from CFHZ’s Community’s Endowment to address issues of racial equity and implicit bias and to support community members of color.
- Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance (LEDA), $20,000: Funds will be used to increase the capacity and frequency of existing programs, including Diversity Education Workshops, Calling All Colors and Talking to Kids about Race, as well as to assist in the transition to virtual formats. It also will be used to continue the series of Facebook Live Community Conversations and, afterward, convert them into podcasts to be available as permanent educational tools.
- Ottawa County Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Office, $20,000: Ottawa’s DEI Office leads the development of an equity plan for Ottawa County by identifying implicit bias in internal policies, procedures, practices and in external service delivery. This funding will be used to continue developing the necessary tools and delivery methods that help reduce or remove implicit bias in programming. Funds also will help develop multisector plans to better serve immigrants and refugees in the local community who often experience implicit and explicit racism.
- Women of Color Give, $20,000: Women of Color Give is a local philanthropy circle that provides space for women of color to connect and leverage resources while supporting each other and causes that matter to them. Women of color are underrepresented in major philanthropic circles, yet their lived experiences with racism and insights into diverse aspects of the community position them with knowledge of what programs and initiatives could make the biggest difference. Funds will be used to increase Women of Color Give’s grant distribution to organizations that support the advancement, development and promotion of people of color on the lakeshore.
- I AM, $20,000: Rev. Henry Cherry, minister at Christ Memorial Church, and Lindsay Cherry, teacher at West Ottawa Schools, are launching a new organization named I AM, which will seek to empower the Black community through education and career possibilities. The duo has already engaged with local schools and developed a strategic plan for their programming.
- Youth-focused Racial Equity Efforts, $25,000: The community foundation’s Youth Advisory Council (YAC) is planning to commit $25,000 of its available 2020 funding to youth-focused racial equity efforts in response to this moment of opportunity for progress. Specific projects/programs will be identified over the summer and early fall through school and community partners.
Bank of America
Bank of America said it is making a $1 billion, four-year commitment of additional support to help local communities address economic and racial inequality accelerated by the global pandemic. The programs will be focused on assisting people and communities of color that have experienced a greater impact from the health crisis.
“The global health and economic crisis have disproportionately impacted people of color. We will continue to identify new ways to meet the needs of our neighbors in Grand Rapids and help create lasting change,” said Renee Tabben, Grand Rapids market president, Bank of America.
“Our long-term commitment to the success of Grand Rapids and Michigan by delivering for our local communities will be deepened and enhanced through this effort.”
The work builds on economic mobility and workforce development programs Bank of America already supports in local markets but will sharpen the focus of that work, accelerate the resources and add a particular emphasis on health services during the pandemic.
Areas of focus will include:
- Support for small businesses
The programs will be executed through the company’s 91 local U.S. market presidents and non-U.S. country executives to help develop opportunities in areas that include:
- Virus testing, telemedicine, flu vaccination clinics and other health services with a special focus on communities of color
- Partnerships with historically black colleges and universities and Hispanic-serving institutions in the U.S. for hiring, research programs and other areas of mutual opportunity
- Support to minority-owned small businesses, including clients and vendors
- Career reskilling/upskilling through partnerships with high schools and community colleges
- Operating support and investment for affordable housing/neighborhood revitalization
- Additional recruitment and retention of BoA employees in low- to moderate-income and disadvantaged communities
This work builds on steps BoA already has taken, including $100 million to support its nonprofit partners across its communities and $250 million to assist with lending to the smallest and minority-owned businesses through its support to community development financial and minority depository institutions.