Black Tech Founders Close the Health Care Race Gap in Innovative Fashion

Black Founders

Many of us have heard the stories and statistics — in every category from childbirth to cancer, Black communities across America are significantly underserved when undergoing major medical treatments or even standard services. Still, while so many of us are aware of the problem there hasn’t been substantial dialogue regarding solutions to said problem, until now.

When Ashlee Wisdom first launched her health and wellness website, over 34,000 users — most of them Black — visited the site in the first two weeks. According to Wisdom herself, this early version of the platform wasn’t the most functional. Still, the launch was successful nonetheless with Wisdom’s company, Health In Her Hue, connecting Black women to culturally sensitive doctors, therapists, doulas, and nurses across the country.

Health in Her Hue launched in 2018 with only six doctors on their roster. Two years later, users can download the app at no cost and scroll through roughly 1,000 providers.

“People are constantly talking about Black women’s poor health outcomes, and that’s where the conversation stops,” says Wisdom.“I didn’t see anyone building anything to empower us.”

As more patients begin to seek out healthcare that acknowledges their cultural values, beliefs, and traditions during treatment, Black founders like Wisdom are here to help. Motivated by their own experiences and those of their loved ones, Black entrepreneurs want to revolutionize the way people eat, exercise, and communicate with doctors. This has led to the launching of health startups that aim to close the cultural gap in healthcare using technology while also creating profitable businesses.

Startup Health, a company headquartered in San Francisco, has invested in a number of health companies led by people of color with its president and co-founder, Unity Stoakes stating,

“One of the most exciting growth opportunities across health innovation is to back underrepresented founders building health companies focusing on underserved markets,”

He further stated that the leaders of these startups have “an essential and powerful understanding of how to solve some of the biggest challenges in health care.”

Kevin Dedner, founder of D.C headquartered startup Hurdle, started his company three years ago, but saw significant growth after the killing of George Floyd. In his own words, Dedner’s company connects patients with therapists who “honor culture instead of ignoring it”. Dedner also says, “We’re really speaking to a need… Mission alone is not enough. You have to solve a problem.”

Memphis, Tennessee founder, Erica Plybeah, focused her attention on providing transportation through her company, Medhaul. Medhaul works with providers and patients to secure low-cost rides to get people to and from their medical appointments. Plybeah’s team helps schedule rides after caregivers, patients, or providers fill out a form on MedHaul’s website.

Although Medhaul is for everyone, Plybeah understands that people of color, as well as low income residents and people living in rural areas, are more likely to face transportation difficulties. She founded the company in 2017 after years of watching her mother care for her grandmother who had lost both legs to Type 2 Diabetes. They lived in the Mississippi Delta where transportation options were scarce.

Plybeah recently received funding from New York-based banking giant, Citi.

Clinify Health is a startup founded by Nathan Pelzer — yet another Black founder. His company works with community health centers and independent clinics in underserved communities and analyzes medical and social data to help doctors identify their most at-risk patients and those they haven’t seen in awhile. By focusing on preventive care, the medical providers can help patients improve their health and avoid trips to the emergency room. 

Pelzer has described it as a company that supports triage outside of the emergency room.

As Black tech founders, Wisdom, Dedner, Plybeah, and Pelzer find ways to support one another by trading advice, chatting about funding, and looking for ways to collaborate. Pelzer and Wisdom met a few years ago as participants in a competition sponsored by Johnson & Johnson. They reconnected at a different event for Black founders of technology companies and decided to help each other.

“We’re each other’s therapists,” Pelzer says. “It can get lonely out here as a Black founder.”

As the community of Black Healthcare Founders continues to grow and Black patients continue to seek out culturally competent healthcare, the Black community as a whole is bound to see unprecedented benefits. With that being said, we are only in the beginning stages of what appears to be an economic revolution.


Capital Impact Partners Fourth Co-op Innovation Award Addresses Racial Inequality

 Capital Impact Partners announced today that it has awarded grants totaling $50,000 to the Association for Black Economic Power and the Sustainable Economies Law Center, co-winners of its fourth annual Co-op Innovation Award. This year, the award recognizes two organizations leading initiatives that address racial inequality and create social impact through economic empowerment for residents in low-income communities.

“We are constantly striving to partner with organizations to help us advance our efforts to expand social and racial justice. I am incredibly proud that we are able to support these two forward-thinking organizations that are employing a cooperative model to do just that,” said Ellis Carr, president and CEO of Capital Impact Partners.

The Association for Black Economic Power (ABEP) was awarded $25,000 to establish a Black-led financial cooperative credit union on the north side of Minneapolis called Village Trust Financial Cooperative. The credit union will provide consumer loans (i.e. payday loans and check cashing services) to residents of North Minneapolis as a way to disrupt the predatory lending that exists currently, and build a cooperative membership base by meeting the immediate financial needs of community members. In addition, the new entity will support efforts to provide technical assistance and financial support for emerging Black-led cooperatives in Minnesota.

This concept was born in response to the killing of Philando Castille, to create economic power as a form of resistance and strengthen the financial resilience of communities of color. Capital Impact’s grant builds on initial support from The Jay & Rose Phillips Family Foundation of Minnesota.

“We are honored to carry a vision of equity for our local community while creating scalable solutions for economic challenges facing people of color across the nation. The establishment of a fund for small-dollar lending, a Black-led credit union, and igniting a local cooperative movement are not possible without brave organizations like Capital Impact Partners, that believe local communities have the power to solve global problems,” said Me’Lea Connelly, Village Trust director. “It is a dream come true to have Capital Impact Partners, a national cooperative leader, join us in our infancy, rooting us in the tradition of innovation and pushing our reach for a greater cooperative renaissance.”

The Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC) was also awarded $25,000 to increase technical, educational, and operational support for the East Bay Permanent Real Estate Cooperative (EBPREC), which SELC is now incubating. EBPREC is bringing together communities of color, indigenous peoples, and housing justice organizations in Oakland, California to pilot an innovative model of land and housing ownership that disrupts root causes of racialized inequality and makes housing and commercial real estate affordable in the long-term. The organization is collaborating with more than 20 organizations across the country to replicate this model with the goal of building a broader movement and national impact.

This innovative model of land ownership engages everyday people to organize, finance, acquire, and steward land and housing. Unlike a conventional housing cooperative, which is formed to provide housing to a defined group of residents, this approach is designed not only to provide housing, but also to build a large membership base and serve members’ collective goal to transform systems for land ownership. This is critical in a community like Oakland, which is experiencing rapid gentrification, leading to the displacement of long-term residents.

“I’ve been working with the amazing leaders of EBPREC for two years, and I’m thrilled that a leadership team will finally get paid to do this important work. I’m so grateful to Capital Impact Partners for investing both in leaders of color and in innovative cooperative models,” said Janelle Orsi, Executive Director, SELC.

The Co-op Innovation Award represents just one part of Capital Impact’s strategy to promote food, worker, and housing co-ops that support underserved communities. Over its 35-year history, Capital Impact has disbursed more than $300 million dollars in financing to more than 219 cooperative businesses serving 870,000 customers.

“The Co-op Innovation Award is a great opportunity to identify new partners launching programs that align with our strategy and mission. Both of these community-led, local initiatives have potential for national replication; they demonstrate how the cooperative model can address problems, train leaders, and build wealth in communities of color,” said Alison Powers, Co-op program officer at Capital Impact Partners.

SOP Association Applauds Committee Passage of H.R. 5236

The ESOP Association applauds Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) and Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH) for their roles yesterday in introducing and supporting H.R. 5236, the Main Street Employee Ownership Act of 2018. The bill, which was introduced today and approved unanimously by the House Small Business Committee, seeks to redress longstanding inequities in how the Small Business Administration (SBA) administers its loans with respect to Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs).

“The SBA was authorized to loan to ESOPs in 1979,” said Rep. Velazquez. “Unfortunately, this tool has been rarely used, due to a lack of understanding of the business structure and cumbersome transition requirements.”

Rep. Chabot, the Committee Chair, bolstered H.R. 5236 by adding a chair’s amendment, and also urged other committee members to support the bill.

“H.R. 5236 provides important reforms to how the SBA treats employee owned businesses,” he said during the Committee meeting. “From updating reporting statistics to capturing accurate data, to codifying ownership transition plans, H.R. 5236 will provide clarity to small businesses that truly need it.”

The bill now moves to the full House for consideration.

Rep. Velazquez thanked Rep. Chabot for his support. She also pointed out that she had worked very closely with the office of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) on supporting employee ownership.

“The support of Rep. Velazquez, Rep. Chabot, and Sen. Gillibrand underscores that ESOPs and employee ownership merit and continue to receive support that is bipartisan and bicameral,” said ESOP Association President J. Michael Keeling. “As Rep. Velazquez noted in her remarks, Baby Boomers own a vast number of businesses in this country, and as those owners prepare to retire, their companies may face uncertain futures. No businesses should shutter, and no employees should lose their jobs, when becoming employee owned is a perfectly sound, well researched, well regarded business option. This bill will make it easier for businesses to pursue that alternative, with help from the SBA.”

Black Couple Launch Disruptive Health Tech Company

The black community suffers from many health complications and are often on the patient end of the health care industry. Very rarely do we hear stories of black innovators in the health tech space.

Meet Jamie and Jilea Hemmings who are married tech entrepreneurs who launched a disruptive new platform called Best Tyme (, the easiest way for physicians and medical sales reps to coordinate meetings.

A sleek work-hack for life-science professionals, the app allows clinicians to set preferences for when and how sales reps meet with them, and sales reps to structure their day by zip-code with an automatic calendar, meals and even routing function!

The app is available on iPad, Android, iOS and web. Free trial downloads are also available on the Apple & Google App stores. Once the trial is complete there is a monthly subscription for the representatives.

To date the couple has raised over $200,000 in VC funding to grow their team and launch a revolutionary product.

“We are thrilled to launch Best Tyme to the market,” said Jilea, Best Tyme’s CEO and Co-founder. “BestTyme is going to revolutionize how doctors and medical sales representatives schedule appointments and at the same time show the potential of black innovators in the space.”

Modern medicine coexists with, and informs, pharmaceutical research and development efforts. However, as any practicing clinician knows, workday time is precious and even more precious is a doctor’s attention.

Most physicians prefer to critically evaluate novel pharmaceutical products and that is best done when meetings with sales reps are concise, convenient and on-point.
The BestTyme app is poised to help doctors take control of when and how they interact with medical sales reps and advance high-quality communication between the two disciplines.
The BestTyme app is designed for physicians.

With the BestTyme app, office staff can refer all sales reps to a central source where physicians have set food preferences and available appointment times. This is a simple yet powerful way to coordinate pharmaceutical sales visits and lunches and take control of a busy practice while staying up-to-date on the latest advances.

As an added bonus, our data shows this simple trick can reduce clinic administrative staff time by up to 10 hours per week.
“My administrative staff absolutely LOVE BestTyme! Any time new reps call, my staff refers them to BestTyme so that they can schedule appointments directly with me,” one [Chicago area] clinician said.
The BestTyme app is also designed for sales reps.

With the BestTyme app sales reps can enter the zip code they want to target and instantly generate a full schedule for the day. The app adds GPS routing and food order functions and even lets you update physicians as you go!

This is a simple yet powerful way for reps to optimize face-time with clinicians. Not only can they minimize friction with office staff, they can address each client’s preferences for time and setting to make for higher-quality interactions.

This app saves time for busy sales reps. One Fort Lauderdale rep said: “In less than 30 minutes, I scheduled five new appointments. The best part: I didn’t even make one call!”

Best Tyme was founded by life-science professionals

BestTyme was founded by four experts with a combined four decades of experience in pharmaceutical sales and front-line medicine. The app was created with the goal of reducing friction in the clinic for all parties.

The company’s mission is to use technology to enhance effective communication of critical advances between two rapidly-advancing disciplines with a high-impact on patient care.

Jamie and Jilea are pharmaceutical representatives with 25 years of combined experience in the trenches who wanted to make their face-time with clinicians more meaningful and hassle-free. As Jamie says, “Best Tyme improves operational efficiency ten-fold.”

Dr. Anisio and Alexandra are a physician/administrator team with 20 years of combined experience on front-line care who wanted to stay informed on pharmaceutical advances, without losing critical efficiency in task-switching from patient care to scheduling.

Alexandra said, “Best Tyme has saved our practice hours a week in scheduling rep visits. While we loved interacting and learning from the sales representatives before Best Tyme, the planning took far too long.”

Emmy® Award Winning Director, Nick Nanton, Partners with Russell Brunson to Co-Produce Documentary on Anti-Human Trafficking Organization, Operation Underground Railroad

Nick Nanton partners with Serial Entrepreneur Russell Brunson, co-founder of ClickFunnels, to co-produce the upcoming short film, tentatively titled “O.U.R.: Operation Underground Railroad and the Fight to End Modern Day Slavery,” where they’ll reveal the story of Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R.). Former Homeland Security Special Agent/Undercover Operator and CIA analyst, Tim Ballard, founded O.U.R. based on multiple experiences of knowing where children were being trafficked across the globe, but not being able to help them in his federal role if there was no connection to the U.S. government. The film follows Ballard as he leads the anti-human trafficking organization on their mission to change the world through rescuing and rehabilitating children who have been trafficked.

“There is so much tragedy in the world, and I see so much of it on a daily basis with the work we do at O.U.R. to help save children across the world who are being trafficked. But there is also so much hope and redemption in the stories that are not being told of those who are being rescued and are being given a second chance at life. We are thrilled to be working with Nick and Russell and the rest of the team on this documentary. It’s an amazing opportunity to share with the world how much progress can be made when a group of people say ‘enough is enough’ and band together to make a difference,” said Ballard.

Russell Brunson’s generous support to create the film will help bring awareness and aid in the fight against human slavery. When Brunson first brought the idea of the film to Nanton he knew it was a story that was worth being told and something he had to be a part of. “What these guys are doing is nothing short of incredible. I’m so happy to be able to play a part in spreading their message. Most people have no idea how many women and children are being trafficked and in most cases, they think that it is not happening in their city. They are wrong. I had no idea of the breadth and depth of this problem until I got involved with O.U.R.,” said Nanton.

The film will portray O.U.R’s mission to help save children all across the globe and features a mission where they teamed up with officials in Haiti to arrest human traffickers, save children, and send a strong message to its country that the trafficking of children will not be tolerated. Featured in this movie are Tony Robbins, Glenn Beck, Congresswoman Mia Love, Senator Orrin Hatch, members of the casts of Miss Saigon and Phantom of the Opera, and many others.

Brunson stated, “Entrepreneurs have a responsibility to use their creativity and innovation to make the world a better place. As the CEO of ClickFunnels, I see every day the impact entrepreneurs have on the world through the products and services that they sell. Then you look at an organization like O.U.R. -a community of people who are going into the darkest places on Earth to rescue kids from situations that are worse than our scariest nightmares, and it hits you just how important it is to get as much visibility and support to them as possible. So many people don’t realize the pervasiveness of human trafficking all over the world, yes, even in the United States. When I first realized how dire the situation is, I knew I wanted to be a part of it.  I am absolutely honored to be alongside Tim Ballard and his team providing whatever resources and talents we have to get his message on a national and global platform.”

Microsoft Store to Host The BarberTime Media Network’s Launch in Atlanta and DC Areas!

Announcing the launch of The BarberTime Media Network, Inc (BarberTime), a dynamic new digital advertising and streaming media tool, offering advertising and up-to-date informational content to barbershops and beauty salons, via online and in-shop, touch screen monitors. The innovative media tool creates a better branding experience for the beauty and hair industry via ad partners, discounted deals for their consumers and creates residual income and special benefits for the barbershop and salon owners.

“We believe our media platform will change how business is done. The BarberTime Media Network merges information, commerce, and entertainment — everything on a touch-screen streaming live right in your shop,” explains, Euan Davis BarberTime’s founder/CEO of BarberTime.

Beauty salons and barber shops have always been the center of communities.  In fact, the beauty and hair business is a $425 billion industry and oftentimes flourishes even during tough economic times — it may be almost recession-proof!

Eliza Mulcahy, Community Development Specialist for Microsoft, reiterates, “this sector’s strength is attributed to the fact that most people come together where there is a purpose, and they feel their voice is heard. In the hair and beauty industries across the country, these businesses are thriving and working on behalf of their communities to make things better.”

Microsoft and BarberTime: What started in Boston during the fall of 2017, at the Boston’s Prudential Center’s Microsoft retail store, was the unveiling of what is soon to be the newest national technological sensation: The BarberTime Media Network, a groundbreaking social media tool “that raises the bar” in the hair and beauty industry nationwide.  Microsoft’s hosting of our mission to spotlight this industry, with LIVE streaming social media events and local leaders along the East Coast, will allow BarberTime to establish a continuously visible, word of mouth and shareable platform like no other.

With current installations taking place in Atlanta and the Microsoft Workshop in the Alpharetta, GA location on March 12th from 2-5pm, BarberTime’s media power grows, and people are taking notice.

And with the next stop soon after in Arlington, VA on Sunday, April 8th, the DC area can expect the same excitement coming their way!

Attendees will learn more about industry related Microsoft software, and BarberTime will choose several locations, per city, to host our revolutionary digital communication platform. Make no mistake these will be a must-see media event.

VIP speakers include:

Barber: Samuel Glickman of the Georgia Barbers Association & Privado by SG,
Barber: Brea Retic manager of Barbers for Days in Marietta
Barber: Jason Yancey who works on movie sets like Avengers, Black Panther and Godzilla  
Barber: Johnn Belt of Premiere Clipper CO. & Magic Touch

Hair and beauty business owners are some of the finest communicators and offer the best local networking and brand building environments. However, the world is changing, and these communities need a better way to connect and share information. With the “Microsoft Stores Tour by BarberTime,” we will offer a new way to connect with the community—and the world!

For event details, please contact The BarberTime Media Network, Inc., Office: (877) 427-1177, Email:, Website:

UBS and Village Capital Launch VC Pathways Program for Minority Female Entrepreneurs Seeking Early-Stage Funding

UBS, the world’s largest wealth manager, and Village Capital, an organization that finds, trains and invests in entrepreneurs solving real-world problems, today announced the launch of the VC Pathways program. VC Pathways is a national program that will train and support African American, Latin and female founders to increase their competitiveness for seed-stage venture investment and early-stage incubator and accelerator programs.

UBS and Village Capital will launch the VC Pathways program in Philadelphia, Chicago and Atlanta, each of which were identified for their potential to support early-stage ventures. Key to the implementation of the program are the local entrepreneur support organizations partnered with VC Pathways in each city, which include Philadelphia-based Ben Franklin Technology Partners, Atlanta-based Goodie Nation and Chicago-based I’m Black In Tech and Blue 1647.

VC Pathways will work with these partners to select a cohort of founders in each city to participate in a three-month program that provides entrepreneurs with hands-on training, advice and tailored engagements from mentors, investors, UBS executives and Financial Advisors who will help their companies become investment-ready.

“VC Pathways is an invaluable extension of UBS’s ongoing commitment to advancing inclusive entrepreneurship,” says Jamie Sears, UBS Head of Community Affairs, Americas. “Many of our clients are entrepreneurs in these cities, so we are excited to be playing a part in strengthening the pipeline of diverse founders and giving startups access to investors, best-in-class training, and other resources that will help their businesses succeed.”

“There is no shortage of potential among underrepresented founders. They have firsthand experience in solving critical issues faced by the majority of the US population,” says Allie Burns, Managing Director of Village Capital. “What’s lacking is the social capital and tangible resources to scale these solutions. We’re hoping that, through this program, startups will gain exposure to the thought-process behind investment decisions and a framework to use milestones to clearly communicate their growth and success.”

Defining and meeting business milestones is an important indicator of success for high-growth startups. Having a roadmap to demonstrate these to investors is critical to helping founders move away from over-reliance on “friends and family” funding and focus instead on other early-stage investors. To assist with this, each local VC Pathways program will provide:

  • Guidance through Village Capital’s VIRAL curriculum. Every entrepreneur in a VC Pathways program will receive training on the Venture Investment Readiness Awareness Level (VIRAL) curriculum, which helps entrepreneurs set and surpass specific milestones to make them competitive when raising capital.
  • Connections to angel investors. The VC Pathways program will facilitate formal and informal interactions between startups and angel investors and provide access to a Startup Heat Map, which identifies monetary and in-kind resources at every funding level.
  • Tangible business support. The program will also provide resources for building a business, including Amazon Web Services (up to $5,000 in credits), access to a Kiva Zip Loan worth up to $10,000, up to $2,000 in grant funding awarded for hitting certain program milestones and network-building opportunities.

Participants in the three-month program will be primarily high-growth businesses that are tech-enabled, pre-seed or seed stage ventures, with an established minimum viable product and have less than $500,000 in revenue or raised funds. Priority will be given to startups solving problems within Village Capital’s five investment areas: Education, Healthcare, Financial Technology, Agriculture and Energy.

For more information about the VC Pathways offering and key local program dates, visit: To learn more about UBS’s additional inclusive entrepreneurship programs through the UBS Elevating Entrepreneurs initiative, visit:

Shared Harvest Fund Launch Platform Dedicated to Eliminating Student Loan Debt Through Volunteer Projects

In response to the growing $1.3 trillion student loan debt crisis in the U.S., Shared Harvest Fund, (, is introducing practical, impactful, and sustainable opportunities for professionals saddled with student debt to pay back their loans.

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, about 44 million Americans are carrying some form of student loan debt. The new company has created a platform for skillful professionals to give back to impactful organizations by engaging in volunteer work to benefit the social causes they believe in while reducing their own student debt.

“I wanted to combine a way to help alleviate our troubling debt burden and the detrimental health cycles we see daily rooted in stress while being able to help nonprofits who so desperately need it,” said NanaEfua B.A.M, founder and CEO of Shared Harvest Fund. “Shared Harvest Fund came from our team’s deep desire to create a meaningful side hustle that would change the discourse from not making enough to giving back and making a difference. Our approach simply starts with investing in people who do good work, so we can be the change and beauty we want to see in the world.”

For a small membership fee, volunteer users sign up for the platform, build a profile page, post their skills, social causes of interest, and start building their network. Once volunteers are paired with a nonprofit organization and complete the service, Shared Harvest Fund will award a stipend to the user and make a payment directly to the student lender in $500 denominations. Users can complete as many projects they desire, earning up to $5,000 a year max up to the maximum amount of their student loan debt.

Co-founder Briana DeCuir of the Shared Harvest Fund.

Shared Harvest Fund benefits include:

  • Student loan debt relief
  • Student loan debt management education
  • Promoting and supporting a culture of volunteerism
  • Nurturing emotional, mental, and physical health through service
  • Building a positive community network around a shared societal burden
  • Organizations in need get the qualified help they deserve
  • Changing the culture of employee benefit packages by promoting and supporting jobs that offer student loan repayment options

B.A.M was inspired to start the company after realizing that even as established professionals, she and her husband were not able to afford to have her stay home with her newborn son because of their combined student loan burden.

Shared Harvest Fund Co-founder Briana DeCuir added, “Learning how to live a debt-free lifestyle offers the opportunity to avoid some of the emotional and physical health burdens that occur with the level of stress attributed to excessive debt.”

Shared Harvest Fund is launching a Kickstarter campaign ( to seek investments to launch its platform and will start paying down the student loan debt of their subscribers as early as July 2018.

Philanthropy Can Help Atlanta Become a “City too busy to hate!”

Metro Atlanta is home to the largest charitable sector in the South, and has grown and thrived on a reputation of prosperity and inclusiveness. But this belies a growing gentrification and criminalization problem that has marginalized the region’s underserved populations.

National and Southern foundations and wealthy donors need to support the Metro Atlanta communities’ grassroots activism to make the city’s reputation a reality.

“Many of the city’s underserved citizens have been pushed to the margins in the name of progress,” said Aaron Dorfman, chief executive of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy in a blog post. “Fortunately, there is a huge opportunity for foundations and wealthy donors to step in and support those communities.”

As the South Grows: Bearing Fruit,” a new report from the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP; and Grantmakers for Southern Progress (GSP; explores how foundations and wealthy donors can respond to the “historic dearth” of philanthropic investment in grassroots policy change work in the region.

Few philanthropic dollars are empowering underserved Atlantans

Metro Atlanta is among the country’s fastest growing regions. Its “city too busy to hate” slogan seeks to project a welcoming, forward-looking image. Yet, its underserved residents are largely left out from these economic opportunities and marginalized populations are targeted by exclusionary policies and practices.

For example, thousands of immigrants attracted to Atlanta by its reputation have instead received apathetic responses from local civic and business leaders regarding harassment of immigrant communities by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Meanwhile, both newcomers and long-time Atlantans struggle to find affordable housing.

According to Ryan Schlegel and Stephanie Peng, authors of “Bearing Fruit,” most of the philanthropy in the city goes to direct service work; just 2 percent of philanthropic investments go to organizations working to build power and change policy.

Furthermore, only two in 10 of philanthropic dollars in the city directly benefit low- and middle-income communities, people of color, immigrants, LGBTQ people and other underserved communities.

Grassroots success does not excuse lack of investment

“Bearing Fruit” features stories from some of Metro Atlanta’s grassroots organizations that have had successes despite limited resources. These include Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, Southerners On New Ground, Racial Justice Action Center and Partnership for Southern Equity.

However, this “make-do” attitude in spite of a lack of philanthropic support is not a justification for the continued lack of investment in grassroots power-building strategies, Schlegel and Peng wrote. They urge funders to increase support for efforts that organize, engage and amplify the voices of underserved communities working for equitable, just treatment and access to opportunities.

How can donors make a difference in Metro Atlanta?

Schlegel and Peng spoke with dozens of Metro Atlanta’s community leaders, nonprofits and grant makers and developed five practical recommendations for donors who want their giving to help all marginalized Atlantans thrive:

  • Ensure that data broken down by race, gender, income, sexual identity and other demographics informs priorities and strategies.
  • Recognize the difficulty in organizing marginalized communities against the dominant political culture in Atlanta and other Southern cities.
  • Provide patient, risk-tolerant, long-term investments in grassroots organizations that enable them to build their bases and cultivate relationships.
  • Invest in organizations, not just projects, by giving flexible operating support to Southern grantees.
  • Learn local history, context, power and priorities to understand who your philanthropic partners are – and who they aren’t.

Donors can also learn from the experiences of The Kendeda Fund and The Annie E. Casey Foundation, both featured in the report.

As the South Grows: Bearing Fruit” offers practical tips and resources that will help grant makers and donors to have lasting impact. The report, as well as the first three in the series, “On Fertile Soil,” “Strong Roots” and “Weathering the Storm,” is available on

Black Unemployment Explained: Economic Holocaust

unemployment, black unemployment,

It’s all about ownership, really. Whoever owns the framework of any economy will be the beneficiaries of its wealth, along with those in their sphere of influence, of their culture and their race. Any economic opportunities left after that will go to whoever remains. This framework is an infrastructure that consists of elements with high barriers of entry and strongly needed by the occupants of the market. These elements are industries such as energy, transportation, communication, food, defense, etc. Those that runs these areas gain big contracts and outlive their wealth, only to hand it off to their heirs. In bad economies, those that peeked at the CEO and Executive positions and able to retire are sometimes forced back into the workplace. As the beneficiaries of businesses climb their way into retirement, those at the bottom of the food chain also see their careers blossom into promotions and increased pay. Those at the bottom are often Blacks. When CEOs and Executives return, everyone who climbed are pushed back down into slots they previously held. However, since reduction in pay and demotions are tough to justify and can result in horrible moral, it happens systematically by way of lay-offs. When the laid-off workers begin seeking new work, they start to realize that the only positions are available are positions beneath the ones they previously held.

Black workers often find ourselves push down below entry level opportunities and into extended unemployment. This is how this works. The key for black employment security is not hidden in policy or programs. It is hidden in entrepreneurship. The more economic opportunities created by Blacks, the greater the possibilities for a reduced Black unemployment rate. The problem is Blacks typically own businesses that only has an ethnic appeal. We don’t get into the high barrier high benefit industries, whether due to lack of capital, lack of interest or lack of patience. We want financial benefits now, so we spend largely as consumers leaving our children to start from scratch. Today, if a business is black-owned, the belief is it doesn’t apply to all across the board. It only applies to our group. Take my latest book, for example, the man on the cover is intentionally and unapologetically black. Though the contents of the book has no racial slant or undertone, has been marketed to the general population and applies ideas, tips and resources for anyone across the board, the purchasers of the book have overwhelmingly been black.

Poor people unemployed is a train wreck because when they were employed, many of them indulged in items that were reserved for the rich. They grab at consumables that make them feel like they are no longer living in the hood, but those who are able to escape the hood invest in items that allowed them to leave there. Unlike the owners and architects of the macro-infrastructure, they miss building their personal infrastructure to purse items of “feel good-look good”; items that do not lead to economic sustenance. There are Blacks who are able to rise up out of the trap of unemployment. But these individuals are not the rule, they are the exception.Image result for black unemployment

Now, this unemployment saga isn’t fully the Black fault, nor is it full the White or Governmental fault. It is a compilation. Blacks justifiably fought for free will in America. It eventually happened. But there was little strategy in place for post-slavery, whether by Black leaders or Union Government. So, in essence free will was earned to a developmentally immature group who was systematically locked out of the education and economic vehicle in America. Yet, the exposure to entertainment was, and still is, wide and full. So, we grab hold to that, and because of free will, we cannot be forced to become educated economically. Tell our leaders to fight for that! Instead, they fight for us to arbitrarily receive benefits without understanding the responsibilities that come with it. At the time of our emancipation, the Black group was not used to freedom, power and choices but it happened to our entire group almost overnight. I would say it was like giving an 8 year-old, the keys to the house, to the car and access to the bank account.

If I had to age our group today, I would say we are collectively a 15 year-old: selfish, entitled, untapped power and arrogant. We resist criticism from other groups. We only cry when we don’t receive the same benefits other groups get. We only copy their recreational activities and not their activities of hardwork.

I think about us daily; where we are and where we are going. I often wonder if it will be safe for me to live in a Black neighborhood when I get older. I wonder what type of leaders will emerge. I wonder if there will ever be another black theology hip-hop base similar to the one in the 1990’s brought on by Public Enemy, KRS-One, or Arrested Development that spreads throughout our community. I think about it, but for now I write and speak with attempts to empower others to act for themselves, their families or communities.

I believe the Black community can recover but it will come by way of economic sacrifice and economic strategy. It will come when we focus on the lives we are creating for our children and grandchildren instead of simply seeking 9-5 work, which subliminally tells our children, “You are on your own.” We don’t seek enough asset ownership and frugal living. When we have leaders that focus on that for our group, instead of that for themselves, we will forever be the largest unemployed group, while these so-called leaders maintain their employment off the plights of Black people.