Small businesses and Black entrepreneurs across the country have had a tumultuous few years. Following the economic downturn spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent inflation, numerous small business owners have failed to find their footing.
For Black businesses, the fallout has been detrimental, but VistaPrint and the Boston Celtics Shamrock Foundation, together with the NAACP, are hoping to be of help. The partnership announced a new $500,000 round of funding for the Power Forward Small Business Grant.
“Minorities represent over 50 percent of all new business created in the US over the last decade,” read a statement shared with EBONY announcing the grant. “At the same time, historically under-represented entrepreneurs do not have the same access to investment capital, let alone the support necessary to maintain or grow their operations.”
At the core of the $500,000 grant is a deep desire to address this disparity. The partnership hopes to support Black-owned small businesses in Boston and throughout New England. Now on its fourth round, the Power Forward Small Business Grant will provide each recipient with customized marketing and design support and award individual grants of $25,000 to businesses that demonstrate the impact their small business has on their community —fitting for an area whose wealth gap has underscored national sentiment around the lack of opportunities for Black Americans.
In 2015, a study conducted by Duke University, The New School, and the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston found that the median net worth for white households in Greater Boston was a quarter million dollars. For Black families, it was just $8. As noted in the study, wealth allows families to make investments in homes, education, and business creation. By bolstering Black-owned small businesses, the partnership helps to enrich a community that has long grappled with financial inequity.
“Opportunity is what empowers small business owners to have an outsized impact on their community and succeed,” says Emily Whittaker, EVP of Commerce & Marketing at VistaPrint. “That’s why it’s vital that accessible resources exist to create equitable opportunities for historically under-represented entrepreneurs, including Black small business owners.”
Since launching in 2021, Vista Print says that the Power Forward has distributed $1 million in grants to 39 Black-owned small businesses. Past recipients include Live Like a Local Tours Boston, Boston Innovation Outlet Inc., a Boston-based marketing firm, and Cupcake Therapy, an allergy-friendly sweets shop co-founded and owned by Boston entrepreneur Shironda White.
Applications for the next round of the Power Forward Small Business Grant will be administered by the NAACP in partnership with Hello Alice, a platform for small business owners to identify the right path to start and grow their company. Applications for the financial grants close on Friday, June 30. New or existing Black-owned small businesses based and operating in Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont or selected areas of Connecticut with 1–25 employees are eligible to apply.
"Like all the programs under our Boston Celtics United for Social Justice initiative, we remain focused and committed to addressing the systemic origins of inequities in our community," says Ted Dalton, Chief Partnership Officer of the Boston Celtics. "Small businesses are essential to New England, and we are excited to do our part to help ensure that historically marginalized business owners have access to investment."