Growth, opportunity and inspiration

Over the past three years, the number of businesses owned by entrepreneurs of color in Michigan fell by 59%. To counter that trend, Michigan Good Food Fund will double down its effort to support Black- and Brown-owned companies – providing more financing and business assistance to entrepreneurs engaged in food production, distribution, processing, marketing and retail projects in underserved communities across the state. Michigan Good Food Fund is a $30-million public-private loan fund, supported in part by WKKF, that has invested $17 million in support of more than 300 businesses in the state to date.

Rural Advancement Foundation International’s Farmers of Color Network grant pool has tripled in size, expanding beyond the Carolinas and Virginia to Georgia and Florida. For Black farmers who have lost their land or experienced discriminatory debt practices and unfair distribution of government farm support, the growth of this fund, supported by WKKF, offers new opportunities to sustain their farms, expand the local food economy and preserve cultural heritage.

WKKF Detroit-based grantees and partners, including Hope Starts Here, the City of Detroit and United Way for Southeastern Michigan, have joined forces to create a new scholarship program to help more working families care for children up to age 12. The state of Michigan has offered a subsidy program to support low-income families by providing funding so online learners between the ages of 5 and 12 can attend child care centers that are usually dedicated to very young children. Unfortunately, it takes time for those subsidies to arrive for families, creating a funding gap. The scholarship program fills that gap, helping working parents stay employed and supporting child care centers that have been hard hit by declining enrollment during the coronavirus pandemic.

Grand Valley State University, a WKKF grantee based in Allendale, Michigan, now guarantees free tuition to low-income students from six Michigan counties. The program, called the Grand Valley Pledge, provides a college education tuition-free for four years to students whose families earn less than $50,000 a year and reside in Kent, Calhoun, Wayne, Ottawa, Muskegon and Grand Traverse counties. We’re thrilled to see GVSU knocking barriers out of the way!

If you’re looking for some inspiration and affirmation, look no further than Shannon Cohen, a WKKF Community Leadership Network Class One alum. Cohen’s Tough Skin, Soft Heart brand has evolved from podcasts to inspirational greeting cards, which have been available at select Target locations nationwide since
Feb. 19.

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