San Francisco Announces $3.75 Million Investment in Black Small Businesses

San Francisco Mayor London N. Breed (above) Wednesday announced the awarding of $3.75 million
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San Francisco Mayor London N. Breed (above) Wednesday announced the awarding of $3.75 million to serve San Francisco’s Black and African-American small business community.

This investment by the Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD) and the San Francisco Human Rights Commission (HRC) is part of the Dream Keeper Initiative, which is reinvesting $120 million from law enforcement into San Francisco’s African American community. This funding is aimed at mitigating the economic hardships facing San Francisco’s African American community and will support rebuilding of the community’s economic power in San Francisco.

“Across this country, and in our City, we’ve seen how the Black community’s economic growth and prosperity has historically been disrupted and marginalized,” said Mayor Breed. “This funding is part our efforts to undo the harm of generations of disinvestment and economic inequities. As we work to recover and make San Francisco a better place to live, work, and do business, we have to invest our resources in a way that lifts up and supports African-American small businesses owners, entrepreneurs, and the entire community.”

As part of the Dream Keeper Initiative, OEWD has awarded 17 Black-serving community organizations with funding to provide services and achieve improved economic development outcomes for African-American businesses, entrepreneurs, and the African-American and Black communities in San Francisco more broadly. Investments focus on helping African-American small businesses and entrepreneurs in San Francisco start, stabilize, or grow their businesses. Funding to organizations is directed at providing training and technical assistance to guide businesses towards growth; providing relief and supporting recovery from impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic; stabilizing African-American community anchor businesses in neighborhood spaces; and celebrating the presence and contributions of historically African-American neighborhoods to drive economic development.

The organizations awarded funding include Working Solutions, the San Francisco African American Chamber of Commerce, San Francisco Housing Development Corporation, Children’s Council of San Francisco, En2action, SF Black Wallstreet, Center for Equity and Success, Inc., Mercy Housing California, Young Community Developers, New Community Leadership Foundation, The Good Rural, Urban Ed Academy, Citizen Film. Inc., Bayview Hunters Point Community Advocates, Inc., African-American Arts and Culture Complex, Bayview Opera House, Inc., and the Homeless Children’s Network.

“The Office of Economic and Workforce Development is committed to advancing racial and economic justice by facilitating programs and services that center on equity-driven growth and opportunity,” said Anne Taupier, Acting Director of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development. “The Dream Keeper Initiative investment focuses on delivering resources to support Black and African-American communities realize their dreams of starting and growing their business in San Francisco.”

“This funding represents an investment in the community and addressing the wealth and opportunity gaps created by years of biased policies and approaches,” said Sheryl Davis, Executive Director of the San Francisco Human Rights Commission. “There is tremendous talent and potential that has been stifled by our biased policies and strategies, through this process we will see the implementation of creative and innovative programs that have the potential to support and benefit all of San Francisco and not just the Black community.”

The funding touches on critical aspects of San Francisco’s diverse economy, focusing on advancing equity and shared prosperity for all by investing in African American small businesses, entrepreneurs and communities. COVID-19 has further shed light on these inequities and has had a disproportionate impact on communities of color and economically disadvantaged communities.

The $3.75 million includes the following economic development and recovery programs with services delivered to Black and African American small businesses, entrepreneurs, and the community:

  • Anti-Displacement Services for African-American Businesses – Support stabilization and recovery of small businesses and entrepreneurs negatively impacted by COVID-19 and other situations that threaten businesses by offering consultations, including legal guidance, on pertinent business tenancy issues. Provide education and counseling from subject matter experts in tenant and landlord matters, and offer services to commercial landlords on conflict resolution including mediation around lease disputes.
  • Business Development and Technical Assistance for African-American Small Businesses and Entrepreneurs – Support the start and growth of African American microenterprises, small businesses, and entrepreneurs with capacity building services in the areas of management and operations, financial management and accounting, legal, procurement, storefront opening and permitting, and product development and digital literacy.
  • African-American Incubation Hubs for Small Businesses and Community Groups –Establish, manage and support the creation and operations of an Incubation Hub that stimulates community, cultural and business development growth through outreach and education about resources available within historically African-American San Francisco neighborhoods. These neighborhoods include the Bayview Hunters Point, Fillmore/Western Addition, Ocean View-Merced Heights-Ingleside (OMI), Potrero Hill, and Visitacion Valley.

African-American Cultural Preservation Events – Support African-American cultural events ad activations through the development, management, and coordination of activities that celebrate the history and diversity and revitalize historically African-American San Francisco neighborhoods.

“SFHDC was created in the Fillmore in order to combat displacement and ensure that African-Americans and others have a voice and resources to thrive in the city they call home, not just survive. SFHDC and our partners are thrilled to be participating in the Dream Keeper Initiative and look forward to creating a community hub and a culinary incubator that will provide workforce development, financial literacy, community resources, art expression and small business development services to the African-American community in the Fillmore/Western Addition,” said David J. Sobel, Chief Executive Officer of the San Francisco Housing Development Corporation. “We fully recognize the urgency of the moment and the need for this important programming, especially as the neighborhood and city emerge from the devastating pandemic.”

This investment from the Dream Keeper Initiative builds on the City’s existing support for small businesses throughout San Francisco, including the African-American Revolving Loan Fund. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the City has provided immediate and ongoing support for small businesses, including directing more than $50 million in grants and loans to more than 3,500 small businesses, tens of millions of dollars in fee and tax deferrals, and assistance applying for state and federal funding. A comprehensive list of business resources is available online at oewd.org/covid19.

Dream Keeper Initiative

The goal of the Dream Keeper Initiative is to improve outcomes for San Francisco’s Black and African-American youth and their families, and will provide family-based navigation supports to ensure that the needs of all family members are addressed cohesively and comprehensively. With this coordinated approach, the Dream Keeper Initiative aims to break the cycle of poverty and involvement in the criminal justice system for the families in its City programs and ensure that new investments, including in youth development, economic opportunity, community-led change, arts and culture, workforce, and homeownership, are accessible to San Francisco’s families who are most in need.

In June 2020, following the killing of George Floyd, Mayor Breed and Supervisor Walton announced a plan to prioritize the redirection of resources from law enforcement to support the African-American community. Following that plan, HRC led an extensive and collaborative process with the community to identify and prioritize funding needs and developed a report to guide the reinvestment. The community engagement process included more than 60 community meetings, listening sessions, coalition convenings, and surveys with over 700 respondents. As part of the budget process, Mayor Breed redirected $120 million from law enforcement for investments in the African-American community for Fiscal Years 2020-21 and 2021-22.

More information about the Dream Keeper Initiative is available online at here.

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