American Express' Coalition to Back Black Businesses Awards $25,000 Enhancement Grants to 25 Black-Owned Small Businesses
American Express (News - Alert) (NYSE: AXP) today announced that the Coalition to Back Black Businesses will award 25 Black-owned small businesses from the Coalition's 2020 grant program an additional $25,000 enhancement grant to support their long-term success and resilience. Approximately 60% of the grant recipients were Black women-owned small businesses and 75% were Black-owned businesses with six or fewer employees.
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"My business and life have done a full 180 since receiving support from the Coalition to Back Black Businesses program," said Deandre Wade, owner of Fresh Sportswear, a small business in Antioch, TN that designs and manufactures custom uniforms for sports teams, with a focus on youth. "With the enhancement grant, I will be moving my business out of my living room and purchasing the tools and equipment needed to begin mass-producing our products."
Established in September 2020, the Coalition to Back Black Businesses is a multi-year grantmaking and training initiative with an initial $10 million commitment to help support and empower Black-owned small businesses. Through 2024, the Coalition will distribute $5,000 grants to qualifying Black-owned small businesses each fall and will provide the opportunity to apply for select $25,000 enhancement grants the following spring. In addition, the Coalition is providing grant recipients with exclusive access to mentorship programs, training and online resources to help them grow and manage their businesses.
American Express established the Coalition to Back Black Businesses, a first-of-its-kind collaboration with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and four major Black chambers, including the National Black Chamber of Commerce, National Business League, U.S. Black Chambers, Inc., and Walker's Legacy. The AIG Foundation?, Altice USA (Optimum (News - Alert) & Suddenlink), Cummins Inc., Dow, and Stanley Black & Decker joined the effort as partners, contributing additional funds and resources to help advance the Coalition's work.
In its first year, the Coalition partners distributed 600 grants to Black-owned small businesses located in 33 states. The initial funds supported a wide range of critical business needs including paying employees, repaying debts, covering rent and utility bills, developing e-commerce capabilities, funding PPE purchases and expanding or pivoting business models. Grant recipients from 2020 were invited to apply for additional funds through the enhancement grants to help sustain and grow their businesses.
"The Coalition to Back Black Businesses gave us an opportunity to re-invest back into our business through marketing and advertising," stated Melissa Hyles, owner of Oak Tree Financial and Tax Services, a family-owned financial services firm that has served the Rancho Cucamonga, CA (News - Alert) area for over 25 years. "With the first grant of $5,000, we were able to update our website, which allowed us to have a much more visible presence on the internet. We plan on using the $25,000 enhancement grant to continue investing in marketing, opening a second location, and starting a mentorship program for our community so that we can pay it forward and give back."
25 RECIPIENTS OF THE ENHANCEMENT GRANTS
American Express worked closely with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and a selection board comprised of Coalition representatives to select the 25 grantees from across the U.S. The 25 Black-owned small businesses hail from 14 states and across 9 industries, with the largest percentage of grants awarded to small businesses in the trade and services, retail and healthcare industries. The leading reasons for requesting an enhancement grant included developing a stronger online presence, relocating to a larger physical space and increasing marketing efforts.
The full list of grantees includes:
Learn more about the winners and positive impact this funding will have on their businesses at www.webackblackbusinesses.com/recipients.
This September, more eligible U.S. Black-owned small businesses will have the opportunity to receive support, when applications open for the Coalition to Back Black Businesses' 2021 grants. Please visit www.webackblackbusinesses.com for more details.
About American Express' Continued Support for Black-Owned Businesses
In the fall of 2020 American Express announced a $1 billion action plan to enhance diverse representation and promote equal opportunities for colleagues, customers and communities. As part of this commitment, by the end of 2024 the company plans to provide financial support and education to at least 250,000 Black-owned small and mid-sized businesses. Among the company's previously announced initiatives aimed to support Black-owned businesses are the "100 for 100" program for Black women entrepreneurs, the Coalition to Back Black Businesses grant program, a $1+ million grant program for "Backing Historic Small Restaurants" with a focus on those owned by underrepresented groups, a $40 million investment to the non-profit lender Accion Opportunity Fund to provide loans and resources to underfunded small business owners and an expanded ByBlack national certification and directory platform developed by the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc. exclusively for Black-owned businesses.
Business owners can learn more about these American Express initiatives, resources and more here.
ABOUT AMERICAN EXPRESS
American Express is a globally integrated payments company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success. Learn more at americanexpress.com and connect with us on facebook.com/americanexpress, instagram.com/americanexpress, linkedin.com/company/american-express, twitter.com/americanexpress, and youtube.com/americanexpress.
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ABOUT THE COALITION TO BACK BLACK BUSINESSES
American Express established the Coalition to Back Black Businesses in September 2020 with a $10 million commitment to fund a grant program, over four years, to help Black-owned small businesses recover from the disproportionate impact of COVID-19.The grant program is administered by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, in partnership with the National Black Chamber of Commerce, National Business League, U.S. Black Chambers, Inc., and Walker's Legacy. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation is a private sector 501(c)(3) charity affiliated with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and is not a government agency.