The Urban League of Louisiana, in partnership with the Foundation for Louisiana, announced the launch of the Black Business Works Fund, an initiative to assist black-owned businesses impacted by Hurricane Ida.
Urban League of Louisiana President & CEO Judy Reese Morse was joined by Marc H. Morial, President & CEO, National Urban League; Flozell Daniels, President & CEO, Foundation for Louisiana; and Vera Warren-Williams, Founder & Owner, Community Book Center, to announce the Fund’s launch and encourage struggling businesses to apply. During the event, the National Urban League, with support from Mastercard and its Chief Administrative Officer, Tim Murphy, and AT&T, made a major gift of $200,000 to the fund. The National Urban League joins the Chicago Community Trust ($250K gift), Shell ($30K gift) and the Schultz Family Foundation ($20K gift) as supporters of the sustainability of black-owned businesses in Louisiana.
“Hurricane Ida was devastating for Black entrepreneurs and business owners, who already were facing historic challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and the systemic and institutional barriers that pre-dated the crisis,” said Marc H. Morial, President and CEO, National Urban League. “I’m proud of the important work Judy Reese Morse and the Urban League of Louisiana are doing to support our brothers and sisters who are struggling, and of our longtime partners AT&T and Mastercard who are working to break down these barriers and build a more inclusive, resilient economy that works for everyone.”
“Our Louisiana employees have stood alongside our neighbors across the Ida-impacted areas, restoring connectivity and rebuilding communities, and we are proud to support organizations – like the Urban League – that are dedicated to the strength of our home,” said Sonia Perez, President, AT&T Southeastern States. “Much like AT&T, the Urban League has a long history of providing critical support for communities, and we are honored to join them in this effort.”
Hurricane Ida has exacerbated existing challenges faced by black-owned businesses. These challenges, including lack of access to capital and operating businesses concentrated in the industries immediately impacted by disasters and health crises, disproportionately affect business owners of color and can be crippling or the cause of a business’ demise. The Black Business Works Fund was established to provide critical dollars that can serve as a lifeline for businesses struggling to survive.
“We are deeply grateful to the National Urban League for its major gift to the Black Business Works Fund,” said Judy Reese Morse, President and CEO of the Urban League of Louisiana. “This major gift will support small businesses at a time when they need resources to stand back up and be stronger on the other side of the storm. As a member of the National Urban League’s 92-member affiliate network, we understand well the disparities that exist for black-owned businesses. We are proud to be a part of the effort fighting for racial and economic equity and justice for all,” she said.
“Black led businesses are a vital part of Louisiana’s unique social and cultural landscape,” said Flozell Daniels, President & CEO, Foundation for Louisiana. “Through the Black Business Works Fund, Foundation for Louisiana commits to keeping the social and cultural fabric of Southeast Louisiana alive. We hope to keep Black business owners rooted in their communities, and to keep the families of their employees in their homes.”
Black-owned businesses located in federally declared disaster areas can apply for $2,500 micro-grants. Federally declared disaster areas include Ascension, Assumption, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Iberia, Iberville, Jefferson, Lafourche, Livingston, Orleans, Plaquemine, Pointe Coupee, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. Helena, St. James, St. John The Baptist, St. Martin, St. Mary, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Terrebonne, Washington, West Baton Rouge and West Feliciana. Businesses can apply online at urbanleaguela.org/fund and foundationforlouisiana.org.
The Black Business Works Fund is now accepting applications and will make grant awards on a rolling basis, as funds are available. To show support for the sustainability of black-owned businesses, donate to the Black Business Works Fund at urbanleaguela.org/fund or foundationforlouisiana.org.