Small business owner. Photo courtesy Small Business Administration

The San Diego Foundation announced Wednesday that it awarded a $300,000 grant from its Black Community Investment Fund and $200,000 grant from the Board of Governors to the Central San Diego Black Chamber of Commerce to start the Urban Business Resource Center.

In total, $1 million has been raised to support the center and economic equity for Black entrepreneurs in San Diego.

“Even before the pandemic, Black-owned businesses experienced disproportionate denials from financial institutions and access to resources and tools to build sustainable businesses,” said Donna DeBerry, president and CEO of the Central San Diego Black Chamber of Commerce. “We collected data and insights from local Black entrepreneurs regarding their needs to start up, reopen, rebuild and thrive.

“The results of this data provided the chamber an opportunity to create a model innovative program called the Urban Business Resource Center, dedicated to develop, support, sustain and scale businesses at all different levels,” DeBerry said.

The center is intended to provide a collaborative hub for Black-owned businesses and Black entrepreneurs through an extensive support network, educational workshops and other resources. The center will also host regular office hours and other activities that will increase Black entrepreneurs’ access to tools to grow their businesses, from mentorship to access to capital.

“The pandemic has had inequitable outcomes for many, including the Black community in San Diego,” said Pamela Gray Payton, chief impact and partnerships officer for The San Diego Foundation. “By supporting the center, we will foster equity of opportunity by increasing access to resources, so San Diego Black business owners and Black families build generational wealth and transform their futures.”

The announcement comes on the one-year anniversary of the launch of the Black Community Investment Fund at The San Diego Foundation. The fund is intended to prioritize and invest in community-led, innovative efforts that increase racial equity and generational wealth for Black San Diegans.

The foundation grant required the Central San Diego Black Chamber of Commerce to raise an additional $500,000 for the initiative. Donors included Bank of America and San Diego Gas & Electric, among others.

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