By Stacie Haas
The Fifth Third Foundation announced the recipients of $1.2 million in grants for Black, woman-owned businesses and the organizations that serve them through the Innovation Meets Main Street: Boosting Black, Woman-owned Businesses program that was announced in September 2020.
The initiative was a partnership between Local Initiatives Support Corporation and the Association for Enterprise Opportunity and was completely powered by Fifth Third as a part of a larger $8.75 million pledge to support small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We know owning and operating a business creates wealth and a legacy,” said Stefanie Steward-Young, chief corporate social responsibility officer at Fifth Third Bank. “Yet Black-owned business owners often face challenges securing capital to start and maintain their business – even more so during these challenging times.
“This initiative couldn’t be more vital for Black communities in metropolitan areas like Atlanta, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Detroit, Louisville, Nashville and Orlando. We are glad to have been a force behind this initiative.”
Through this program, LISC received $1 million from the Fifth Third Foundation, with $630,000 in grant funding awarded to 63 small businesses and $250,000 for an investment in the Fearless Fund, a venture capital firm that invests in businesses led by women of color. The remaining money is supporting the delivery of technical assistance. To date, over 60 Black women have received funding or technical assistance to help them remain open.
Valued at a total of $6,000, these services were offered free to small businesses.
Innovation Meets Main Street fills a critical need in the economies of Black communities and for the small business community. Studies show that 41% of Black-owned businesses have been shuttered during the pandemic.
Jacquelynn Byrf of Sweet Sistah Splash in Cincinnati said. “Due to COVID restrictions, Sweet Sistah Splash has operated at minimum capacity for almost a year, significantly decreasing our profits. The Innovation Meets Main Street grant has helped our business stay afloat during this trying time. It has helped with operational costs, supplies and more.”
The Cincinnati grant recipients were:
The Voice of Your Customer
Waverlys Hope Child Care LLC
Balizza Healthcare Solutions
Little Tree House of Knowledge Preschool
RRight Now Communications
Social Butterfly Events & Designs LLC, doing business as The Confetti Room
Pope Financial Planning
LFR Events and Consulting LLCSweet Sistah Splash
LiveWell Group LLC