Chicago Urban League to provide emergency grants to Black small businesses

THE CHICAGO URBAN LEAGUE offers assistance to businesses negatively impacted by COVID-19 which includes business coaching, applying for the Ford grant, developing a post COVID-19 financial plan, business strategy or disaster plan. (Photo by Mike Petrucci on Unsplash)

New program will launch in Chicago on August 17

In partnership with the philanthropic arm of Ford Motor Company, the Chicago Urban League is launching the Emergency Capital Access Program (ECAP) to provide small grants, technical assistance, and advisory services to Black-owned small businesses that have been negatively affected by COVID-19. The League’s Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation will deliver the program and expects to provide grants up to $5,000 to about 20 businesses.

The program is part of the League’s COVID-19 Community Help Center, launched in April. Business owners will be able to apply for the program through the Help Center website beginning August 17.

“Over the past few months, our Help Center has worked with hundreds of small business owners to assist them in recovering from interruption caused by the pandemic, and the need is still great,” said Chicago Urban League President & CEO Karen Freeman-Wilson. “This new initiative and support from Ford will help us make a difference for more local, Black-owned businesses and the communities they serve.”

Ford created ECAP as a pilot program with the National Urban League to offer crucial economic support to businesses that provide a stabilizing influence for communities hard hit by the pandemic.

Chicago was one of six National Urban League affiliates to receive $100,000 from Ford to deliver the program.

“Small businesses are a cornerstone of the African American community and play a vital role in their economic success,” said Pamela Alexander, director of Community Development, Ford Motor Company Fund.

“The impact of the COVID pandemic has created economic uncertainty that necessitates immediate action.

Our long-term partnership with the National Urban League allows us to quickly mobilize an initiative such as the Emergency Capital Access Program to get immediate assistance to those businesses in need.”

Here’s how the program will work in Chicago:

  • The League’s Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation will recruit qualified businesses as possible grant recipients.
  • Qualified applicants will be awarded grants of $2,000 – $5,000 for the remainder of 2020.
  • Qualified applicants must participate in pre-grant counseling services to access short-term needs.
  • Funding priority will be given to “person-to-person” businesses heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and those located in Census tracts with greater than 25% Black residency.

For more details about the program, visit the COVID-19 Community Help Center website, [[CC1]].

“Access to capital is one of the biggest hurdles Black-owned businesses face, and the pandemic has only widened the racial disparity,” National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial said. “Far-sighted and enlightened partners like Ford are essential to rebuilding an economy that is both fair and thriving. We’re extremely grateful for Ford’s support.”

The Ford Motor Company Fund continues to support communities during this challenging time. For more information on programs that support the African American community, go to [].

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