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

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Mike Rollen Ophelia Blue Vine Farm
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."

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