The Metropolitan Business League (MBL) recently awarded $250k in grant funding to 55 small, women- and minority-owned businesses to assist them with managing the ongoing impact of the coronavirus and the social justice demonstrations, through the We Care RVA Rebuild Fund, a community-led initiative. The nearly $1-million fund is being administered by theMBL in partnership with Venture Richmond, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Virginia, Virginia Community Capital and ChamberRVA. The project partners are grateful to Dominion Energy, Altria, Capital One, Robins Foundation and the Community Foundation, who generously seeded the fund as part of their racial equity and social justice response efforts in the community.

“Dominion Energy is committed to providing support where we can, during what has been a very difficult year for our communities. We’re grateful to the Metropolitan Business League and all of the other partners for their dedicated efforts to reach small businesses during these unprecedented times and provide both the temporary and ongoing assistance needed to help our communities thrive,” said Ed Baine, President of Dominion Energy Virginia.

The disbursement of the first round of funds has been completed and was granted to support small businesses, many of which have not been able to access federal assistance programs. The MBL is committed to focusing their efforts where they know these funds will recirculate and strengthen the small business community. The grants were valued at $2,500, $5,000 and $10,000 and will support the businesses during these uncertain times. Additional support is being made available to the grant applicants as well to include small business coaching, professional counseling and technical assistance. Preferred vendors participating in providing the assistance will extend a 20% discount to grant recipients. In addition, a credit of up to $1,500 will be made available to each grant recipient to spend with the preferred vendors and technical service providers.

“We are ecstatic about the opportunity to provide ongoing support to the small business community to assist with their rebuild and pivot, reimagine their business model and strategize with the guidance of small business and technical assistance providers,” says Melody Short, Director of Marketing & Communications for the Metropolitan Business League. 

The participating community partners realized the need for small business relief, particularly amongst small, women- and minority-owned businesses, was extreme and urgent. The selection committee consisted of city leaders and investors, who reviewed over 150 qualified applications, selecting 55 grant recipients in this first round.

“Our business was ransacked during the social justice demonstrations. After being closed for almost five months but still required to pay rent and utilities, we are so grateful for the support and the $10,000 grant awarded through the We Care RVA Rebuild grant. Every single penny we can get is so valuable,” says Abbas Jahangiri, owner of the Coliseum Loft Deli & Market. Grant recipients can use the funds to pay rent, utility bills, supplies, inventory and other operating expenses.

Other $10,000 grant recipients include, but not limited to: 68 Home, Alchemy Coffee, The Canal Club, Girls For A Change, OAXACA, Refuge for Men, Richmond Dentistry for Children, Waller & Company Jewelers and Urban Hang Suite. All other grants were valued at $2,500 and $5,000.

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