Relief grants from a leading economic development initiative are as much about building momentum as surviving the pandemic, said Nika Cotton, emphasizing Troost as a good place to start.
Cotton, owner of the Soulcentricitea tea shop at 30th Street and Troost Avenue, is using a $5,000 award from the Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City, Missouri, to help launch efforts for her community organizing fund.
“We currently have two community organizing projects we are working on,” she said, detailing a youth internship program to teach young people about social entrepreneurship, business plans, peace-building training, and industry-specific knowledge on barista service and food handlers permits.”
Click here to learn more about Soulcentricitea’s summer 2020 launch.
“The second project is a Black Troost Business Association to address the effects of gentrification along Troost on Black businesses,” Cotton added. “We will be holding a listening session to understand the needs of Black businesses along Troost or Black businesses who are interested in moving to Troost to understand how a Troost Black Business Association can be responsive to their needs.”
“I’m just excited to have this funding to get things started.”
The EDCKC publicly announced $80,000 in funding to Black-led Kansas City non-profits Friday, including the award to Cotton at Soulcentricitea.
“Over the course of the pandemic, we’ve been working hard getting grant funding into the community to support our city’s Black-owned organizations that are suffering due to COVID-19 impacts,” said T’Risa McCord, interim president and CEO at EDCKC, calling recipients’ characterizations of the COVID-19 relief grants as “a critical lifeline.”
The full list of grants includes:
- Black Archives of Mid-America — $10,000
- Delta Educational and Economic Development Foundation — $10,000
- Friends of Alvin Ailey — $10,000
- Friends of Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Center — $10,000
- Negro Leagues Baseball Museum — $10,000
- HELP(KC) — $10,000
- Generating Income for Tomorrow (G.I.F.T.) — $10,000
- Soulcentricitea — $5,000
- Prospect Business Association — $5,000
The funds awarded to Generating Income for Tomorrow (G.I.F.T.) — a nonprofit that’s raised more than a quarter million dollars in eight months to provide grants to Black small businesses — are expected to help the organization continue serving the urban core, as well as providing business coaching and accounting services to GIFT grantees.
“We truly, Truly! Appreciate all the help and support we’ve gotten from the EDC,” said Brandon Calloway, executive director and co-founder of GIFT.
Click here to read more about GIFT’s February grant recipient, Mike Rollen, owner of Ophelia’s Blue Vine Farm.