CINCINNATI — The Kroger Co. Foundation on Monday announced the recipients of its Racial Equity Fund Build It Together grant challenge, an initiative that will award $3 million in grants to support efforts to help build more equitable, inclusive communities.
Kroger said the initiative reflects a key focus from the Framework for Action: Diversity, Equity & Inclusion plan, a 10-point commitment announced in October 2020 to accelerate and promote greater change in the workplace and in the communities the company serves.
The Foundation invited 14 organizations to apply for up to $1 million in funding through the Build It Together grant challenge, which welcomed organizations to submit proposals aimed at positively uplifting, supporting and impacting communities of color. A panel of judges, including Kroger associates and leaders, external partners, and local community foundations, evaluated the proposals and selected four finalists that collectively will receive $3 million to accelerate their visions.
“We launched our Framework for Action: Diversity, Equity & Inclusion plan with the goal of harnessing Kroger’s collective energy to advance racial equality in our culture and our communities,” said Keith Dailey, Kroger’s group vice president of corporate affairs and president of The Kroger Co. Foundation. “The intent of The Kroger Co. Foundation’s Racial Equity Fund is to catalyze innovative approaches to help create more equitable, inclusive and stronger communities. The Build It Together cohort reflects a group of enterprising organizations that are committed to creating lasting change for communities of color. We’re honored to partner with them.”
The Kroger Co. Foundation’s Build It Together grant recipients include:
- Black Girl Ventures (Washington, D.C.)
Founded in 2016 by serial entrepreneur and computer scientist Shelly Bell, Black Girl Ventures’ (BGV) mission is to provide Black and Brown women founders with access to community, capital, and capacity building to meet business milestones that lead to economic advancement through entrepreneurship. BGV scales tech-enabled, revenue-generating businesses under $1 million to create racial and gender equity and an inclusive free market. BGV operates five chapters (Birmingham, AL; Durham, NC; Houston, TX; Miami, FL; and Philadelphia, PA) and has funded over 130 Black and Brown women, held over 30 BGV pitch programs across 12 cities, leveraging over $600,000 in funding, and served more than 600 participants.
BGV will use its $500,000 Build It Together grant to launch two Change Agent Fellowship cohorts, respectively in Cincinnati, OH and Detroit, MI, to achieve the mutual goal of increasing racial equity. The program expands the capacity of Black and Brown women founders, connecting them with sponsors, mentors and peers and providing training through entrepreneurship workshops and access to BGV’s network of investors and partners.
- Everytable (Los Angeles, CA)
Everytable’s groundbreaking social franchise model is pioneering a new way to produce food that dramatically reduces the cost of healthy, fresh, and prepared meals, providing a viable alternative to fast food. The organization’s mission is to transform the food system to make fresh, delicious food accessible to everyone, everywhere through grab-and-go storefront markets in communities with extreme scarcity of healthy food options. Everytable’s social equity franchise program removes barriers to business ownership for Black and Latinx entrepreneurs with the goal to eliminate racial wealth disparities and expand access to healthy food.
Everytable will use its $1 million Build It Together grant to expand an innovative public-private funding structure to spur an increase in business ownership for Black entrepreneurs, and people of color (POC) broadly, with the goal of opening 40 POC-owned franchises over the next two years.
- LISC (New York, NY)
The Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) is the country’s largest community development organization. With offices in 36 cities and a rural program that serves over 2,200 counties in 45 states, LISC’s dedicated team is committed to creating economic opportunity for all. LISC will use its $500,000 Build It Together grant to launch a long-term partnership to advance Project 10X, the organization’s ambitious strategy to close the racial health, wealth, and opportunity gaps in America. The organization’s proposal aims to support food-system businesses and community organizations working for equitable food access, led by and serving Black, Indigenous and people of color.
- Thurgood Marshall College Fund (Washington, D.C.)
Established in 1987, the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) is the nation’s largest organization exclusively representing the Black college community. TMCF member schools include publicly supported Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Predominately Black Institutions (PBIs). Publicly supported HBCUs enroll over 80% of all students attending HBCUs. Through scholarships, capacity building, strategic partnerships, and innovative planning, TMCF serves as a critical access point for students, from college to career. TMCF will use its $1 million Build It Together grant to adapt its successful innovation and entrepreneurship program to focus on food insecurity and food waste, particularly in low-income and underserved Black communities. The challenge will combine the program model to bring the winning ideas to market, leveraging expertise from Kroger and its partners like Feeding America, as well as the community focus of HBCUs and the research capacity of these educational institutions. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, HBCU leadership is focused more than ever on harnessing expertise to address basic needs – food, shelter, and health – for communities.
The Build It Together cohort will leverage funding from the Foundation to implement innovative programs and initiatives over the next 12 months and beyond.
“We’re eager to partner with these four exceptional organizations to create a brighter, more equitable future for the communities we serve,” said Sunny Reelhorn Parr, executive director of The Kroger Co. Foundation. “As a purpose-led organization, we know that actions speak louder than words. We remain committed to not only illuminating the important, impactful work of groups like these but also sharing our resources and delivering on the promises of our Framework for Action to accelerate meaningful change in our culture and country.”
More information about Kroger’s Framework for Action: Diversity, Equity & Inclusion plan is available here.