Community development nonprofit deploying $15,000+ ‘groundswell grants’ to 30+ Black-owned and -led small businesses
In the wake of the east Buffalo shooting, local community development nonprofit LISC Western New York is deploying what it is calling “groundswell grants” to dozens of Black-owned and Black-led nonprofits and small businesses in the community.
LISC WNY’s “soil fund” builds on a $200,000 seed investment from its parent company, LISC, and will deploy a combined $500,000 in direct financial support to more than 30 small businesses or nonprofits by the end of June. The program is designed to quickly deploy capital where it’s needed most through a streamlined application and review process to stabilize Black-owned and -led businesses – helping businesses cover everything from payroll and operating expenses to essential supplies and facilities improvements, both in the wake of the trauma and well into the future with long-term supports provided.
“East Buffalo was the victim of a heinous act of white supremacism that was deliberately targeted to inflict as much pain and trauma as possible upon a historically segregated Black neighborhood. But we will not stand down,” said Tyra Johnson Hux, deputy director of LISC Western New York. “As a community, we will heal, and we are grateful to be able to do our part to support the Black-owned and Black-led small businesses and local organizations who have been on the frontlines of building investment, opportunity and community in this neighborhood for generations.”
The “soil fund” will provide upward of $15,000 grants to east Buffalo small businesses and organizations dedicated to improving access to food, housing, transportation, and cultural and historic assets. In addition to immediate financial supports required to stabilize these local, Black-led businesses, the fund will also deliver access to long-term resources, business supports, and strategic partnerships and plans that will help these businesses grow and develop into the future.
“Buffalo has been an epicenter for abolitionist, civil rights, and Black activist movements. It’s also been forced to overcome great obstacles created by extreme segregation. But communities like east Buffalo have time and again demonstrated their resilience rooted in community,” said Valerie White, senior executive director of LISC NYC. “We’re proud to support and facilitate this critically important investment in east Buffalo’s Black-led businesses to ensure that despicable white supremacism does not stand in the way of the growth and vibrancy of this beautiful Black neighborhood.”
The “soil fund” pays tribute to the Black entrepreneurs and community advocates who are working to bring food establishments like food pantries, cooperatives and urban farms to east Buffalo.
A press release stated, “There is no food security without healthy soil. The name is also a reference to the Free Soil Party, established in the summer of 1848 at a convention in Buffalo. The Free Soil Party was an influential third party whose main purpose was opposing the expansion of slavery. The Free Soil Party's slogan was ‘free soil, free speech, free labor, and free men’ and ‘We will fight on, and fight forever, until a triumphant victory shall reward our exertions.’ ”
LISC WNY is asking all New Yorkers to join in the fight and support Buffalo’s east side to “rebuild in triumphant victory against hate and racism.”