The Oakland Black Business Fund Received the Inaugural Michael Jordan and Jordan Brand’s Community Grant

By JR Valrey, The Minister of Information

The Oakland Black Business Fund is the only Black led fund that produces business grants and large investments, to address the co-ordinated lack of capital investment that goes into Black businesses. Co-founder of OBBF Trevor Parham is an innovator in the business space, having founded Oakstop, a shared work space in the middle of downtown Oakland, prior to the creation of the Oakland Black Business Fund. Recently OBBF was the inaugural recipient of the Michael Jordan and Jordan Brand’s Community Grant. 

I wanted to salute Trevor Parham, as well as the team at the Oakland Black Business Fund, on their mission of helping Black business owners; because without them, locally, we are left at the mercy of the predatory lending of banks like Wells Fargo and Bank of America, who have a long history of abusing the Black community, as well as their general customers. I sat down with Trevor Parham to talk about the work of the Oakland Black Business Fund, but also to talk about being selected for a major grant, so stay tuned.

JR Valrey: How did the Oakland Black Business Fund get picked to receive the inaugural Michael Jordan and Jordan Brand Community Grant? 

Trevor Parham: Oakland Black Business Fund was chosen as 1 of 8 out of 600 total applicants from around the country. The focus was on organizations doing hyper localized work to support the Black community, and our Oakland-based peer-to-peer business support model exemplified that focus. Our application responses explained how our model embraces the themes of self-determination championed by Marcus Garvey and Malcolm X to address the economic injustices that the Black community has endured for countless generations. 

 JR Valrey: How does it feel to get a major grant from a corporation, like the Jordan brand, that is a major part of Black life in the U.S.? 

Trevor Parham: It’s validating, and not necessarily in terms of the grant funding, but more so in terms of the acknowledgement of our vision for uplifting Black life. It feels great to see corporations such as Nike and the Jordan Brand recognizing their responsibility to protect Black life, in the U.S. We are both their inspiration and their greatest supporters, so it’s only fair that they acknowledge our well being. 

JR Valrey: What was the Oakland Black Business Fund up to prior to receiving this grant?

Trevor Parham: Prior to receiving this grant, we were doing the work as we always do— using the OBBF platform to cultivate an active ecosystem of Black Businesses in Oakland. 

JR Valrey: Who are some of the clients that the fund is currently with, and what kind of support has the OBBF offered them?

Trevor Parham: • Teas With Meaning: Funded the creation of a promotional video and the cost of a special event where owner, Khamilah Mitchell, announced that she was cancer free after focusing on drinking her teas.

  • Gold Beams: Funded the cost of their first ever concert, showcasing multiple local performing artists in Oakland that are part of their Second Mondays performance platform.
  • A Taste of Africa: Awaiting info
  • Ball By Yourself: Awaiting info
  • Oaklead Film: Support with studio and office space

JR Valrey: What percentage of businesses that apply to OBBF, actually get supported?

Trevor Parham: Beyond the businesses that don’t actually meet the criteria (Black owned businesses, based in Oakland), we generally have supported 100% of the businesses whose applications we’ve reviewed. There are still plenty more applications for us to review and support.

JR Valrey: How was the OBBF started? Why? When?

Trevor Parham: Oakland Black Business Fund was started in June 2020 via an initial crowdfunding campaign aimed at supporting local Black businesses that had been damaged during the George Floyd protests. We understood that many of these same businesses were already struggling within the first few months of the pandemic so we wanted to make a targeted effort to support Black businesses that faced greater setbacks after the protests. After raising $100K in our first week, we realized that we could create a more formal organization aimed at providing ongoing funding to Black businesses in Oakland.

JR Valrey: Who can apply to OBBF? Do you have to live in Oakland or does your business have to be based in Oakland? Can people apply only at certain times like most grants?

Trevor Parham: Black owned businesses based in Oakland can apply for Oakland Black Business Fund. The larger goal is to cultivate an ecosystem of local Black businesses in Oakland, that can support each other and improve conditions for Oakland neighborhoods and Oakland’s Black economy.

JR Valrey: How can people regularly keep up with what OBBF is doing? What are your online handles?

Trevor Parham: People can follow us on our website or via our social media handles:

Instagram: @blackbusinessfund

Facebook: Oakland Black Business Fund

Twitter: @blkbusinessfund

LinkedIn: Oakland Black Business Fund

 

 

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