© 2024 Kansas City Public Radio
NPR in Kansas City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

A Kansas City nonprofit has given out over $500,000 to help Black-owned businesses thrive

With a grant and marketing help from G.I.F.T. Mike Rollen's (above) Ophelia Blue Vine Farm went from selling at farmer's markets to stocking his fresh herbs in every metro HyVee.
Ophelia Blue Vine Farm Facebook
With a grant and marketing help from G.I.F.T. Mike Rollen's (above) Ophelia Blue Vine Farm went from selling at farmer's markets to stocking his fresh herbs in every metro HyVee.

G.I.F.T. (Generating Income for Tomorrow) is making good on its goal to invest in Black-owned businesses in the lowest income areas in Kansas City.

G.I.F.T. co-founder and CEO Brandon Calloway says the idea for the organization grew out of frustration.

Calloway belonged to a Facebook group of 15,000 proprietors and supporters of Black-owned businesses who were upset with the lack of financial support for Black entrepreneurs.

In the spring of 2020, Calloway recalls the group leader saying, "Hey, if all of us put in $10 we could really build up Black businesses and Black communities ourselves."

By May of that year, Generating Income for Tomorrow was up and running with its motto, "If 15,000 People Donated $10 A Month," greeting visitors to its website. By August 2020, G.I.F.T. issued its first grant.

To date about 2,500 people have made the monthly pledge, which Calloway says "really allow us to do the work that we do."

G.I.F.T. now gives out two grants a month, in amounts of $10,000, $25,000 or $50,000. Along with the money comes a year's worth of business coaching, accounting, and marketing services.

So far G.I.F.T. has given out over $500,000 to 40 businesses, creating 49 new jobs and saving seven others by keeping businesses open.

"Because of all of the technical assistance we give to them," Calloway says, "we have seen businesses have a 100% increase in their quarterly revenue, all the way up to a 1000% increase in their quarterly revenue."

Calloway and G.I.F.T. are hoping to reach their goal of 15,000 donors. They closer they get, Calloway says, "the bigger, actual stab we can take at closing this racial wealth gap."

Stay Connected
When I host Up To Date each morning at 9, my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. Reach me at steve@kcur.org or on Twitter @stevekraske.
As Up To Date’s senior producer, I construct daily conversations that give our listeners context to the issues of our time. I strive to provide a platform that holds those in power accountable, while also spotlighting the voices of Kansas City’s creatives and visionaries that may otherwise go unheard. Email me at zach@kcur.org.
As senior producer of Up To Date, I want our listeners to hear familiar and new voices that shine light on the issues and challenges facing the myriad communities KCUR serves, and to expose our audiences to the wonderful and the creative in the Kansas City area. Just as important to me is an obligation to mentor the next generation of producers to ensure that the important conversations continue. Reach me at alexanderdk@kcur.org.
KCUR serves the Kansas City region with breaking news and award-winning podcasts.
Your donation helps keep nonprofit journalism free and available for everyone.