Detroit Free Press
March 20, 2023
The Metro Detroit Black Business Alliance announced Monday that it is receiving two grants totaling $800,000 that the organization will use to support Black small businesses.
The alliance, which focuses its efforts on closing the racial wealth gap, said it will receive $600,000 from the Gilbert Family Foundation over the next three years and $200,000 from JP Morgan Chase over two years.
“This will enable them to expand their reach and impact even more for entrepreneurs in our city,” Darnell Adams, director of Detroit Community Initiatives at the Gilbert Family Foundation, said during the announcement. “The partnership aims to address the racial wealth gap — as we all are focused on — that has hindered the growth and prosperity of communities of color in our city, which is the Blackest city in America.”
These grants will support the organization’s Capital Connect program, which connects small businesses with funding opportunities.
“The way that we’re able to do our work is that we have partners that help fund the program, so this will allow us to serve more Black-owned businesses through our Capital Connect program,” said Charity Dean, president and CEO of the alliance. “The Capital Connect program is really intense. It’s hands-on, but not only that — we connect our businesses to technical assistance partners.”
Capital Connect is serving its fifth cohort and a portion of the funding already has been added into daily operations. When owners of small businesses in the program need assistance with tax returns or credit counseling, the organization steps in to pay for those needs, which is covered by its partners. The funding also covers the staffing to run the program.
The announcement was made at an event Monday to celebrate the alliance’s two-year anniversary of working to close the racial wealth gap. The event featured a panel discussion about the state of Black businesses, which featured Dean as the moderator; Kai Bowman, CEO of MDBBA; Anika Goss, CEO of Detroit Future City, and Wafa Dinaro, executive director of the New Economy Initiative.
“I think there’s two missing pieces,” Dinaro said about the growth rate for small businesses in Detroit. “One is policy change, but it’s also practical assistance to these businesses. We could provide all of the funding for capital, but we need to make sure they are ready.” She said a business owner may not know how to keep the books, but with practical assistance and enough resources on how to run a business, this can be solved.
As far as the future of the program, Dean sees continued growth toward bridging the racial wealth gap.
“I want every organization, every entity, every person, to look at what is happening in our region and understand that they — their organization or corporation — are critical components of closing the racial wealth gap,” Dean said. “None of this work happens by accident; you absolutely need intentional partners.”
The Gilbert Family Foundation has also granted $500,000 to Black Leaders Detroit, also a small business support organization, according to Adams.