Editor’s note: Give Black and Kansas City GIFT are non-financial partners of Startland, the parent organization of Startland News. This story was produced independently by Startland News’ non-profit newsroom.
A newly launched campaign intended to back Black-owned businesses needs widespread community support to make the most impact, Brandon Calloway said, shedding light on why eight Black-run businesses and organizations are teaming up with his nonprofit ahead of Juneteenth.
“Black-led nonprofits are typically underfunded when compared to white-led nonprofits,” Calloway, co-founder and executive director of Generating Income for Tomorrow (Kansas City GIFT), said of why the high-impact, grant-making organization launched its second annual Give Black campaign June 1.
“We constantly say that the people who are closest to the problem are closest to the solution … but, for some reason, they’re still not getting funded,” Calloway said.
Juneteenth commemorates the June 19 emancipation of slaves in the United States following the Civil War. In recent years, the date and observance have gained more prominence in American culture, especially amid the ongoing Black Lives Matter social justice movement.
“Black-led nonprofits got less money [than white-led nonprofits] and they could only use it for this thing that [funders] said they could use it for,” he continued, highlighting data in an annual report recently released by The Bridgespan Group.
“White-led nonprofits got 76 percent more money to do whatever it was they wanted to do with it.”
Click here to view the 2019 report released by The Bridgespan Group.
Give Black hopes to raise more than $80,000 to further boost the work of GIFT and high-impact organizations and businesses that include The Greenline Initiative, Soulcentricitea, Life’s Work Counseling and Consulting, Raytown Reap, The Nia Project, UrbnHub, WeCode KC, and Alive & Well Communities.
Funds raised through the campaign won’t be subject to restrictions, but are expected to fuel creation of skills-based courses for BIPOC Organizations, build infrastructure, capacity, programs, initiatives, and promote overall business expansion.
Click here to support Give Black or for updates on the initiatives Juneteenth Day of Giving.
The campaign is also expected to participate in a community panel with Startland, the parent organization of Startland News’ independent, non-profit newsroom. Click here to register for the free June 17 event, “Innovation Exchange: Black Entrepreneurship and the Importance of Giving Black.”
Pinpointing community needs prompted the campaign’s launch and helped identify its mission-driven partners, Calloway explained, citing the work of Alive & Well Communities and director Ave Stokes as a catalyst.
“Basic essentials — food, jobs, housing assistance, the large digital divide, lack of a mental health services for Black and brown communities,” he said of key community needs Alive & Well identified in the COVID-era.
“Once those topics were identified, [Stokes] started getting people together. I was one of the first people that he called and then he and I [started to look] for organizations [to support] that filled those needs.”
GIFT has granted $200,000 and counting to Black-owned businesses since August 2020. Click here to read about its most recent grant.
As Calloway, Stokes, and their newfound partners look to bring awareness to such community issues, the GIFT co-founder reflected on where he sees the world one year after the Black Lives Matter movement stood its ground.
“I don’t think it’s changed much,” he said candidly. “There’s a focus on ‘Buy Black’ — whether that’s still top of mind for people or just a cool fad for last summer, I’m not really sure. … I personally feel like there has been a lot of lip service, but I can’t point to much action [being taken.]”
Click here to read more about additional efforts like KC Black Owned, here to learn more about Black Pantry, a curator of retail goods made by Black-owned businesses, and here to explore the story behind Black Drip Coffee, a Kansas City-roasted Black-owned coffee brand.
Calloway has watched GIFT gain significant growth with individual donors during the past year, but said corporate gifts remain few and far between. It’s an example of philanthropic redlining, he said, noting Give Black hopes to tackle the problem head on.
“Since last summer, there has been $4 billion pledged to support Black and brown initiatives [nationally]. And since last summer, $250 million of it has been allocated,” he said, referencing data provided by Stokes.
“I was able to have a lot of conversations with a lot of [local] corporations and they all saw the vision, but they didn’t necessarily jump. They didn’t hop on board and support.”
Embracing the grassroots nature of GIFT, Calloway and his partners took the organization’s message to the people of Kansas City — the same people he said he hopes to see rally behind Give Black this summer.
Click here to read about GIFT’s 2020 Black Business Report.
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that seeks to build inclusive prosperity through a prepared workforce and entrepreneur-focused economic development. The Foundation works to change conditions, address root causes, and break down systemic barriers so that all people – regardless of race, gender, or geography – have the opportunity to achieve economic stability, mobility, and prosperity.