Coalition to Back Black Businesses (CBBB), co-founded by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, American Express, and four leading national Black business organizations – announced 491 Black-owned small businesses across 39 states were each awarded a $5,000 grant as part of a multi-year grantmaking and mentorship initiative. The recipients will be eligible to apply for enhancement grants of $25,000, which will be provided to a select number of 2021 grantee recipients in July 2022.

The CBBB was formed in September 2020 to address the needs of businesses impacted by the pandemic and support their long-term growth. Since its launch, CBBB has awarded grants to more than 1,000 Black-owned small businesses.

“From nationwide supply chain disruptions to worker shortages, Black small business owners are facing new and daunting challenges brought on by the pandemic,” said Carolyn Cawley, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. “The strength of our economy depends on the success of these business owners. We look forward to working with our Coalition partners to empower more Black-owned businesses so they can recover from these challenges and continue to create jobs and opportunities in their communities.”

“We are proud to be a partner of CBBB and the truly impactful work it is doing to provide funding and educational resources to small business owners,” said Madge Thomas, head of corporate social responsibility at American Express. “As part of our “Backing Small” efforts to invest in the small business economy, this program enables American Express and our partners to meet the urgent needs of Black business owners and provide meaningful support where they need it most to ensure long-term success.”

“Any business needs money, but Black and brown businesses get such a small percentage of new business funding, limiting the opportunity of these entrepreneurs; people with amazing ideas, amazing drive and amazing vision,” said Mandi Masden, owner of Apostrophe Puzzles and recipient of CBBB’s 2021 grant. “That’s the number one thing we need. We need financial support. We need investors. We need grants.”

Funding from ADP, the AIG Foundation, Altice USA, parent company of Optimum and Suddenlink, Dow, the S&P Global Foundation, Shopify, and Stanley Black & Decker brought the Coalition’s total impact to $14 million, which will be provided as immediate financial aid and longer-term resources, such as mentorships and trainings, to support Black small business owners across the country through 2024.

Statement from Madge Thomas, head of corporate social responsibility at American Express

We co-founded the Coalition to Back Black Businesses, because we’re committed to backing underrepresented small business owners. With the Coalition, we offer grants and practical assistance — including mentorship and online resources — to help Black-owned businesses survive and thrive in today’s changing environment. These businesses are the backbone of their communities, and we’re committed to backing them, especially when they need it most, to ensure their long-term success.

Statement from Lawrence Bowdish, executive director of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation works to create greater opportunities for Black business owners to succeed. The strength of our communities depends on it, and we are committed to supporting Black-owned small businesses to help keep their dreams alive, especially in these challenging times. Black business owners are resilient – with 88% of our grantees telling us that they’re optimistic about the future of their business. Together with our partners, we have established the Coalition to provide important resources that will advance their business goals.

Statement from Ron Holloway, owner of Woofbowl, based in Los Angeles

We’ve always leaned into creativity and innovation, but with the service industry being devastated and the economy becoming more anemic, Woofbowl’s focus shifted more into tackling exponentially increasing costs and merely trying to survive. This is the first grant we ever received and when we learned we were selected, we got super emotional. The Coalition to Back Black Businesses Grant was a huge help in giving us a reprieve. We put those resources immediately to work by paying essential bills and getting some necessary tools and supplies to help us become more efficient. We were able to refocus and hone in on what we do best – be creative. But we’re still far from being out of the woods.

Statement from Bronwyn Morgan, owner of Xeo Air, based in St. Louis

The Coalition to Back Black Business grant is extremely helpful in propelling our startup forward. We’ve been able to utilize these funds to aid us in some of the details we need during these uncertain times such as marketing and sales, budgets, and equipment purchases.

Statement from Artika Tyner, owner of Planting People Growing Justice Press and Bookstore, based in St. Paul

Planting People Growing Justice (PPGJ) publishes, promotes, and distributes books that encourage and empower Black children to find joy in reading. Only 18% of Black fourth graders are reading at grade level; therefore, the Coalition to Back Black Businesses grant has been indispensable to our success as we expand our business and work to eliminate the reading crisis in the United States. We are now able to take our publishing house and bookstore to the next level by increasing the number of books in our inventory and publishing new book titles written by Black authors.