Central San Diego Black Chamber of Commerce Black Business Relief Fund Grants to 199 Local Black-owned Businesses in First Round of Grantmaking

Central San Diego Black Chamber of Commerce Black Business Relief Fund Grants to 199 Local Black-owned Businesses in First Round of Grantmaking

The Central San Diego Black Chamber of Commerce sponsored by San Diego Grantmakers grants to 100% of qualified applicants in first round.

A daycare that won’t close. A wellness center that will improve its digital presence. A PR firm that can pay its utilities. San Diego Grantmakers is honored to partner with the Central San Diego Black Chamber of Commerce (CSDBCC) on the Black Business Relief Fund, leveraging our equity-centered grantmaking expertise as the fiscal sponsor of this project.  Last week marked one month since the launch of the Fund. Today, we’re pleased to share a progress update on the first round of grantmaking.

In the first of three rounds of grantmaking, 383 applications were received. SDG partnered with an advisory group of the Black Chamber to develop equity-focused grant criteria to ensure that grants reach the widest possible range of Black-led businesses, and focus on those most in need. Of applications received, 199 were eligible. Thanks to the incredible support of funders and individuals – including SDG members The Leichtag Foundation, The San Diego Foundation, Alliance Healthcare Foundation, Cox Communications, US Bank, Union Bank, and Wells Fargo – grants were issued to every single one of the qualifying 199 businesses in round one, totaling $214,000. A majority of the businesses – both applicants and awards – are sole proprietorships and nearly 75% are women-owned.

“My business (pet sitting) is totally dependent on folks being able to move around and travel. So not only was the pandemic detrimental to my business, my car broke down. I had a new booking without knowing how to get there. You guys saved me! I’m so looking forward to learning from your advisors,” grant recipient Renee Stepp, owner of Petcopia shared.

For Stephanie Erazo, owner of Prana Wellness, the funds will help to further her digital presence, a pivot that has been forced by COVID.  “My business pivot during Covid has been a challenge. I have taken all of my services completely online, and have had to change my strategy completely. This grant will allow me to put more focus on digital marketing and producing web content, which are really essential in this moment,” Erazo said.

For Latoya McKelvin, the funding is a gift that she intends to pay forward as owner of the Movement Matters Collective. “These funds provide a ray hope. With a little financial assistance I will be able to transition my fitness and wellness services from in person to online. I will also use this investment to fund free movement classes to my neighbors here in City Heights to help relieve some feelings of anxiety and isolation during this current climate,” McKelvin shared.

Grants ranged in size from $1,000 to $5,000 based on pre-set criteria, and all awardees will participate in a business development class with the San Diego and Imperial Valley Small Business Development Network to further strengthen their business.

“It is inspiring and encouraging to have them (CSDBCC) believe in our business not only through financial support, but also advisement, counsel, and serving as a support system to our business and many other local businesses like ours,” Averill Williams, owner of Hammond’s Gourmet Ice Cream shared with us.

The strategy from the start for CSDBBC has been one of solidarity with the vibrant Black business community of San Diego, the funds being one part of an overall strategy to support the resiliency and growth of Black businesses. “These funds are to say we see you, we support you, and we stand with you,” Donna DeBerry, president and CEO of CSDBBC said.

“It re-affirms that all is not lost, and together we will thrive again,” Harold Crisden, owner of Metrius Electrical Services, said of the support.

The funds are helping some businesses adapt and thrive in this challenging climate, while it is helping others survive as we all work toward inclusive long-term planning in the face of this global pandemic and its economic fallout. Nearly half of all businesses are providing essential services during the pandemic, including nearly 40% who are child care service providers.

“With these funds I will be able to purchase more PPE supplies to help keep the spread of COVID-19 away from my facility and keep our children that we care for safe. I will also be able to get a professional sanitation done to the facility and purchase more learning material to assist in teaching our students as the possibility of them not returning to school is upon us,” Shaunte Brown, owner of Happy Time Learning Center shared.

“Small businesses are the heartbeat of communities – both as community members and as community builders. The breadth of businesses represented in this first round of grants reflects the vibrancy of the Black small business community in San Diego, and demonstrates the critical essential roles so many Black businesses are serving during these unprecedented times,” Debbie McKeon, president & CEO of San Diego Grantmakers said.

For Cafe X: By Any Beans Necessary owner Khea Pollard, the funding can assist with regaining momentum to build capacity in the Black community that has been interrupted by the pandemic. “Cafe X: By Any Beans Necessary is more than just coffee, it’s a movement to honor and build capacity in the Black community, communities of color and other underserved communities countywide,” Pollard shared. “These funds are critical to getting us back into a storefront location after losing sales and hard-earned momentum when the public health orders went into effect,” Pollard added.

In just the three weeks since round one closed, more than 300 new applications were received. As stories of need and supportive donations flow in, we will continue to issue as many grants as possible to qualified applicants, a commitment that will depend on the continued generosity of our community. If you would like to support this important effort, or have businesses within your networks who might consider applying, please share the following links widely: