Baltimore Ravens star Defensive End and Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year, Calais Campbell has teamed with The Rockefeller Foundation to help struggling Black businesses in Maryland survive the COVID-19 pandemic.
Through his CRC Foundation, Campbell has pledged a $125,000 donation to support CLLCTIVLY and its Covid-19 Baltimore Micro-Grant Fund. This campaign provides financial assistance and strategic advising to Black-owned businesses in Baltimore impacted by the coronavirus.
CLLCTIVLY began in 2015 after the murder of Freddie Gray to create an ecosystem to foster collaboration, increase social impact, and amplify the voices of Black-led organizations in Maryland.
The Rockefeller Foundation, founded in New York in 1913, has pledged $75,000 to support the program. With support from both foundations, CLLCTIVLY officials said they’d be able to assist Baltimore’s businesses of color through micro-grants and access programs like the CLLCTIV Soup Collaborative, which supports business owners of color through crowdfunding, crowdsourcing, and increased social connections.
The donations also will help the Baltimore Black Led Solidarity Fund, which aims to bridge the gap between capital providers and small businesses.
Funds are also earmarked for the Black Futures Micro-Grants program, a monthly contest designed to support Baltimore Changemakers— local leaders submit videos explaining their business or charitable organization. Community members vote to elect the micro-grant recipients.
“CLLCTIVLY just seemed to be aligned with what we, as a foundation, wanted to do,” stated Campbell, who in February was honored with the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award. The award recognizes a football player for outstanding community service activities off the field and excellence on the field.
“They really support Black businesses in Baltimore, and understand that it helps to create jobs,” Campbell remarked. “They keep these businesses alive, and increasing jobs are among the best things I think you can do in our communities.
“Right now, a lot of businesses are struggling to stay alive, and they need help. As an individual, I couldn’t go and figure out which businesses needed help because there are so many, so it made sense to go through CLLCTIVLY and arm them with some resources to help make a difference.”
Campbell added that Black businesses are not only contending with the effects of Covid-19, but with significant under- investment and disinvestment as well.
CLLCTIVLY officials say they want to end the long pattern of philanthropic neglect and under-investment in Black institutions’ infrastructure.
“Covid-19 has helped to pull back the curtain and shine the light on the systemic and structural inequalities that have existed in America for far too long,” CLLCTIVLY Founder Jamye Wooten said in a news release. “We are honored to be a recipient of this generous donation from Calais Campbell and The Rockefeller Foundation. This investment will help us to fulfill our mission to be a resource for those that seek to find, fund, and partner with Black-led organizations serving in greater Baltimore.” A poll conducted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and MetLife found that two in three (66 percent) minority- owned small businesses are concerned about permanently closing their business due to the pandemic versus 57 percent of non-minority small companies.
Additionally, it found that the number of minority-owned businesses expecting revenue to decrease in the next year has increased fivefold since early 2020.
“We are thrilled to join Calais Campbell in supporting this CLLCTIV in a critical moment for Baltimore’s Black-led businesses,” said Otis Rolley III, Senior Vice President of The Rockefeller Foundation’s U.S. Equity and Economic Opportunity Initiative.
“While Covid-19’s impact on Baltimore’s already vulnerable communities of color is yet to be fully realized, the need for emergency services, food, rent, utilities, childcare assistance, and mental health services have exponentially grown,” Rolley continued. “When Black-led organizations serving Baltimore’s Black community are needed most, they too are vulnerable to economic collapse, and we take great pride in working to support these community leaders.”