Today, Vistaprint, the Boston Celtics Shamrock Foundation and NAACP announced the first cohort of recipients from the Power Forward Small Business Grant. This grant is a shared commitment of $1 million between Vistaprint and the Boston Celtics Shamrock Foundation in partnership with the NAACP designed to create a lasting impact through the economic empowerment of Black-owned small businesses across New England, featuring grants of $25,000 and the opportunity to be featured on national co-branded platforms, as well as receiving design and marketing assistance customized to their specific needs to help their business grow and thrive.
The first group of grant recipients includes 12 small businesses from the Boston metropolitan area, Western Massachusetts, and Connecticut representing a variety of industries including childcare, healthcare, food service, craft brewing and employment services, among others. Recipients of the Power Forward Small Business Grant were notified with surprise virtual visits from Celtics center Tacko Fall, President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens and the team’s beloved mascot, Lucky.
To date, nearly 600 applications have been submitted from more than 460 towns and cities across New England. Nearly 60% of the small businesses who applied are women-owned with 85% of selected first-round recipients being female. The majority of those who applied reported less than $100,000 of revenue in each of the past two years. Applicants reported that their main reasons for applying to the Power Forward Grant include assistance building their brands, hiring more team members, and raising capital.
“We are thrilled to be awarding $300,000 during this first round of grant announcements and are eager to get started working with these 12 amazing small businesses to help them with branding, design and marketing. It is our hope that these funds and our partnership will help strengthen these businesses while simultaneously supporting their communities,” said Emily Whittaker, Vistaprint President, North America
In November 2020, Vistaprint and the Celtics announced a multi-year partnership designed to make a lasting impact on local small businesses throughout New England. The launch of the Power Forward Small Business Grant is the first collaboration within this partnership, and an initiative of Boston Celtics United for Social Justice.
“Small businesses are the lifeblood of a strong economy and our community. We’re eager to begin working with each of these small businesses, and future grant recipients, as we seek to make a positive lasting impact on a diverse group of small businesses throughout New England,” said Celtics Co-Owner and Alternate Governor Steve Pagliuca.
“Ensuring that the generations of Black small business owners are afforded a level of financial freedom and business support is vital to developing communities and closing the racial equity gap,” said NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson. “One key way to close the wealth gap is by closing the investment gap. The NAACP is proud to be a part of this initiative and we salute our partners, the Boston Celtics and Vistaprint for their investment and commitment. This level of investment in our communities is a seminal moment in America, where we have an opportunity to transform the next generation of entrepreneurs from not just business developers but to community developers.”
“We are very grateful for the funds! Our plan is to focus on marketing: we serve such a great and essential product that many are not aware of. With the funds, we plan on acquiring a juice truck that will allow us to go in and serve different communities, starting with the North Shore where there is a great need for juice bars. This is one of our strategies to increase awareness and invite more guests to our shop,” said Recipient of the Power Forward Grant Vanessa Mukanaia Kazadi, Beraka Juice.
“When the state-mandated shutdown went into effect, I lost 75% of my contract staff. My business was at a standstill for months and continues to be affected in many ways due to COVID. America’s workforce needs to be revitalized, and ManeHire will assist in that effort, thanks to the Power Forward Small Business Grant,” said Recipient of the Power Forward Grant Nicole Polite, Manhire LLC.
MEET THE RECIPIENTS:
- Dianne Austin, Coils to Locs (Dorchester, MA)
Coils to Locs, founded in 2019 by a cancer survivor and natural hair blogger, supports hospital cancer centers and medical hair loss salon’s ability to provide access for all of their clients regardless of hair type by offering contemporary, high quality, coily, curly synthetic wigs. Coils to Locs now has partnerships with 6 hospitals/salons.
- Elle Scott, SheChef (Roslindale, MA)
The mission of SheChef, founded in 2013, is to provide mentoring and guidance to young women from urban settings who aspire to be exceptional within the culinary arts.
- Karen John Hope, Small Steps Daycare (Lowell, MA)
After being laid-off from her job in the HR industry in 2002, Karen had her second daughter and opened Small Steps Daycare. Small Steps accepts all state-issued vouchers, as well as homeless, DTA, DCF, and teen programs. Small Steps’ ultimate goal is to provide affordable childcare and prepare all children to enroll in kindergarten, while in a safe and healthy learning environment.
- Kristen L. Pope, Pope Productions, Inc. (Natick, MA)
Pope Productions, founded in 2014, provides a full-scale experience for all storytelling needs. Pope Productions includes videography, editing, writing and production for short-form storytelling. Pope Productions started the “On-Air Academy” to provide a positive narrative of black people in communities across the country through training, coaching, and placing black journalists in newsrooms. To date, the On-Air Academy has coached and trained more than 300 entry-level and aspiring journalists.
- La’Erica Wiliams, The Nurse’s Office Primary Care (Colchester, CT)
The Nurse’s Office, a primary care and walk-in center founded in 2017, provides primary care and walk-in services, including on-site lab work, for acute, non-life-threatening injuries and conditions, including sprains, strains, lacerations (cuts), fevers, colds, flu, other viruses, stomach bugs, and food poisoning.
- Nicole Broushet, The Vegan Nest Cafe (Worcester, MA)
The Vegan Nest, founded in 2017, is a collective committed to celebrating a healthy, natural, holistic and compassionate lifestyle. Rooted in biblical principles of gentleness, mercy and love, The Vegan Nest Cafe is passionate about compassion and shares that with its nesters through recipes and services.
- Nicole Polite, ManeHire, LLC (East Longmeadow, MA)
ManeHire, founded in 2018, was created with two goals in mind: to make it easier to hire great people and to enable clients to exceed their marketplace goals. ManeHire also offers workshops on soft skills and resume building.
- Raymond Berry, White Lion Brewing Company (Springfield, MA)
Seeing growth in the craft beer industry and recognizing the absence of local beer in Springfield, MA, Raymond Berry Jr. founded The White Lion Brewing Company with community in mind in 2014. Today, White Lion is proud to call 1500 Main Street in downtown Springfield its home.
- Salimata Bangoura, Yamacu (Natick, MA)
Yamacu is a West African fusion beverage company that offers delicious locally handcrafted fresh ginger drinks.
- Tambo Barrow, Bred Gourmet (Boston, MA)
This small burger bar serves gourmet patties & toppings, plus kale drinks, smoothies, salads & more.
- Vanessa Mukania, Beraka Juice (Winthrop, MA)
Beraka Juice’s vision is to serve the North Shore of Massachusetts, as there is a scarcity of juice bars in the area and they aim to fill this gap.
- Zina Thompson, Zina’s Hair Salon (Cambridge, MA)
Zina Hair Salon offers a variety of styling services including hair consultations. Their mission is to provide the highest level of service and educate their clients on how to maintain healthy, beautiful hair.
HOW TO APPLY
Applications for the Power Forward Small Business Grant will be administered by the NAACP in partnership with Hello Alice, a platform for small business owners to identify the right path to start and grow their company. Applications for the financial grants opened in February 2021 and will remain open until all funds have been disbursed. If you have already applied for this grant opportunity, your application remains in the pool of candidates. You do not need to re-apply for consideration. Applicants selected to receive grant funding will be announced on a rolling basis.
All applications must be submitted through Hello Alice: http://www.helloalice.com/power-forward
Grants are available to new or existing Black-owned small businesses based and operating in New England* with 1-25 employees.
*Some geographic limitations apply for areas of southern Connecticut. See application eligibility requirement for details.