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By The Skanner News
Published: 08 October 2020

October 7, 2020 – Kaiser Permanente Northwest has announced a series of local investments in Black-owned businesses and nonprofits, including rapid response grants, business loans, and professional development. These local actions build on recently announced $100 million national grants and financing equity to support Black businesses.

"Systemic racism is built into our culture and society, and it can only be defeated through long-term commitment and sustained action," said Jeff Collins, president, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals of the Northwest.

"We can't fully address the health of our members and our communities without addressing racism, and economic opportunity.

"I'm proud of Kaiser Permanente's active commitment to making a change."

Rapid response grants

Kaiser Permanente Northwest will give a total of $250,000 to 10 local nonprofits that are on the frontlines in the fight against systemic racism:

  1. African American Alliance for Homeownership
  2. Albina Headstart
  3. Black Parent Initiative
  4. Black United Fund of Oregon
  5. Kairos PDX
  6. Portland African American Leadership Forum
  7. NAACP Vancouver
  8. NAACP Eugene/Springfield
  9. Self Enhancement Inc.
  10. Urban League of Portland

Each $25,000 grant will be directed toward general operating expenses to provide flexibility for the organizations to use the money where it can have the most impact in Oregon and SW Washington.

"Kaiser Permanente is an ally in our mission to ensure everyone can achieve their highest potential," said LM Alaiyo Foster, CEO of the Black United Fund of Oregon. "They are an amazing partner who is allowing us to make the tangible differences necessary to ensure equity and justice across all social systems and institutions."

Small business loans

COVID-19 will have long-term implications on the small business community.

To help business owners of color cope with economic hardship due to COVID-19 and help close the racial wealth gap, Kaiser Permanente will create economic opportunities for Black-owned businesses through loans and professional services in the Northwest.

Kaiser Permanente and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), the nation's largest community development organization, launched a $60 million investment partnership to strengthen minority-owned businesses in the wake of COVID-19. The national Rapid Relief & Resiliency Fund will provide loans of $100,000 to $4 million to small businesses of color to support recovery, stabilization, and growth in the wake of COVID-19.

Kaiser Permanente Northwest is working with local chambers of commerce and business groups to encourage Oregon and Southwest Washington businesses led by Black and other underrepresented individuals to apply for a loan through the fund. LISC is now accepting loan applications from local small business owners of color. Click here to learn more about LISC's Rapid Relief & Resiliency Fund and how you can apply today.

Professional development

To further address systemic economic inequities, Kaiser Permanente will designate $15 million in grant dollars to expand people of color's access to formal professional training, business networks, and recovery and growth capital. Kaiser Permanente and Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) launched their partnership in July 2019, providing a cohort of business owners with executive leadership training through the Inner City Capital Connection (ICCC) program.

"I have gained so much through my participation in ICCC," said Sharon Maxwell, chief executive officer, Bratton Construction, LLC and Boanerges Group, and ICCC participant. "It gave me the courage to go after national projects; go back to school and complete two bachelor's and a master's degree; and even retool my operations to adapt to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. I am so thankful to Kaiser Permanente for their continued investment in ICCC as it is making a huge difference for minority-owned businesses, particularly as we manage the ongoing financial impacts of the pandemic."

Kaiser Permanente and ICIC's expanded partnership will increase the Black business community's access to these impactful professional development programs. Click here to learn more about services offered by Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC)/Inner City Capital Connection (ICCC) and how you can get involved.

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