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Three Black-owned businesses on how a Kansas City nonprofit has helped them grow

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Three people stand side by side inside a radio studio. They are smiling and looking at a the camera.
Carlos Moreno
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KCUR 89.3
These three business owners have been recipents of Kansas City's G.I.F.T.'s grants, left to right: Ashley Pompey, co-owner and founder of The Blueprint KC, Dontavious Young, owner of Equal Minded Cafe, and Elaina Paige Thomas, owner of The Next Paige Talent Management and Production.

Kansas City G.I.F.T provides grants to Black-owned businesses in the community. Last year, they presented $460,000 to 21 different Black-owned businesses, including Blueprint KC, The Next Paige Talent Management and Production, and Equal Minded Café.

Kansas City G.I.F.T. (Generating Income for Tomorrow) is a Kansas City nonprofit founded in 2020 that give out grants and bring jobs to Black businesses in underserved communities, especially in communities east of Troost.

That's where Kansas City G.I.F.T. cofounder Brandon Calloway grew up, and he says he wanted to tackle the racial wealth gap that he saw there.

"Me and my co founders, we all grew up on the east side of Kansas City," Calloway says. "We were born and raised and have seen firsthand and experienced the large racial inequities on the east side of Troost. We have seen how it's an economic desert, while the other suburbs of Kansas City are booming economically."

This past year, G.I.F.T. gave out $460,000 in grants to 21 businesses, and opened a 7,500 square foot business center on Prospect Avenue to increase access to technical assistance. In their first two years of operation, G.I.F.T. says it's created 58 new jobs.

Among the businesses that have benefited are Blueprint KC, The Next Paige Talent Management and Production, and Equal Minded Café.

The Blueprint KC is a clothing and wedding boutique, while The Next Paige Talent Management and Production is the first female Black-owned talent agency in Kansas City.

Equal Minded Cafe is a Black-owned café located on Troost that also offers an event and performance space.

The owners of these businesses joined KCUR's Up To Date to discuss the impact of Kansas City G.I.F.T.

  • Brandon Calloway, CEO and cofounder of Kansas City G.I.F.T.
  • Ashley Pompey, co-owner and founder of The Blueprint KC
  • Dontavious Young, owner of Equal Minded Café
  • Elaina Paige Thomas, owner of The Next Paige Talent Management and Production

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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.
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