PepsiCo and National Urban League Create $10 Million Grant Program to Support Black-Owned Restaurants

July 2021, Philadelphia — Victoria Tyson preps food at her restaurant, Victoria’s Kitchen (VICTORIA’S KITCHEN)

In early July, restaurateur Victoria Tyson opened her Philadelphia eatery, Victoria’s Kitchen, for the first time since the first days of COVID-19. As she cut a ceremonial ribbon in front of a crowd of reporters and well-wishers, she announced that she planned to overcome a lack of capital and staffing — the obstacles that had kept her from re-opening sooner — by investing in e-commerce technology and recruitment and retention training.

How would she do it? With a $10,000 grant from the brand-new Black Restaurant Accelerator Program, a partnership between the PepsiCo PEP Foundation and the National Urban League (NUL) to give 500 black restaurant owners a total of $10 million over the next five years.

Three weeks later, she’s already put her money to work.

“This program and grant even out the playing ground for Black business owners,” she says. “It also means me and people like me are given a fighting chance.”

Tyson is the first recipient of the grant, part of a more than $400 million commitment PepsiCo made to support Black communities in June 2020. Noting that since February 2020, 41% of Black-owned businesses have closed indefinitely or permanently, compared with just 17% of white-owned businesses, NUL executives say Black restaurants help form the lifeblood of their neighborhoods.

“Restaurants are gathering places and hubs of the community … that drive energy and activity,” says CEO Marc Morial.

And yet, Morial says, only 2% of black-owned businesses received funding through the first round of the federal pandemic-response Paycheck Protection Program. Like so many of her Black business colleagues, Taylor applied but watched helplessly as funds designated for small businesses got used up by multinational corporations.

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SOURCE: Forbes, Tara Nurin