Wells Fargo and the Central Florida Foundation announced their decision on Oct. 20 to partner and invest in an up-and-coming initiative dedicated to promoting black businesses and the local community. The two organizations will contribute a total of $75,000 in seed money to the project.
Wells Fargo, responsible for $25,000 of the initial investment, and the Central Florida Foundation, donating the other $50,000, hope to give strength to the local, black-run economy and support equity among black businesses and communities. The demographic has struggled in the midst of a pandemic in addition to the rise of violence against their race.
Mark Brewer, the president/CEO of the foundation, stated, “The economic and health challenges of COVID-19, along with the loss of black lives this year, have made this a critical time for Central Florida to invest in equitable solutions that support black businesses and communities in the region.”
The initiative originated after the Central Florida Community Collaborative and Wells Fargo joined forces one year ago. The collaborative is composed of several players in the area devoted to equality and healthy commerce: the African American Chamber of Commerce of Central Florida, BBIF Florida, and the Central Florida Urban League. The initiative has been in development for a year and has become increasingly relevant as the events of 2020 unfolded.
“Wells Fargo is committed to do our part in eliminating systemic inequity and strengthening our Orlando community. We are excited to partner with the Central Florida Community Collaborative and support work that empowers black businesses and neighborhoods in Orlando,” said Candice Simmons, community relations senior consultant at Wells Fargo.
Concerns over the inequality of black lives compared with others and economic disparities, disadvantages and discrimination make this topic a pressing one to tackle. Within the next year, the collaborative aims to ally with the Racial Wealth Divide Initiative at Prosperity Now to further efforts in confronting economic inequality based on race. They will analyze the root causes and issues resulting from institutionalized discrimination through wealth, wages, and inherent likelihood of success. The partnering organization, Prosperity Now, has successfully implemented the model in 11 states and 15 cities and plan to implement the first one in Florida in 2021.
“Today, nonprofits led by and serving black, indigenous, and other communities of color are being asked to do more with even fewer resources,” said Cat Goughnour, racial wealth equity associate director at Prosperity Now. “Our partnership with the Collaborative on the Enterprising Black Orlando Initiative will bring best practices to build a more equitable ecosystem and incubate economic mobility innovations in Orlando by fortifying strong leaders to build stronger communities.”
Ultimately, the partners hope to raise at least $2 million in the effort. With Wells Fargo and the Central Florida Foundation on board, strengthening black business owners and solidifying the fight against economic inequity is that much more possible.