It has been well documented that nearly half of Black small businesses were immensely impacted by the pandemic as it ravaged minority communities disproportionately.
In response, the Boston Celtics Shamrock Foundation & NAACP have joined forces and selected the recipients of the Power Forward Grant, a combined $1M grant program that aims to create a lasting impact through the economic empowerment of Black-owned small businesses across the New England of the U.S. with grants of $25,000 each.
The first cohort of recipients included small business owners like Dianne Austin. Dianne was going through cancer treatments when she started looking for a wig that looked like her natural, curly hair. After being dismayed by her limited options, she launched her business, Coils to Locs Wigs. Her business was going well until the pandemic forced business to a standstill. With the help of the Power Forward grant, Dianne’s small business has found a lifeline. Austin says she will use the grant – and the marketing services that come with it – to build a website so she can reach more people, particularly Black women like her.
“The pandemic has placed a monumental strain on small businesses, and the past year has made clear our society’s need to work harder for equality, equity, and opportunity for all,” said Robert Keane, Vistaprint Founder and CEO in a news release. “We are proud to partner with like-minded organizations like the NAACP and the Boston Celtics Shamrock Foundation to help small business owners find success and achieve their dreams.”
In November 2020, Vistaprint and the Celtics announced a multi-year partnership designed to make a lasting impact on local small businesses throughout New England. The launch of the Power Forward Small Business Grant is the first collaborative initiative within this partnership, and an extension of Boston Celtics United for Social Justice, a multi-focus commitment to addressing racial injustice and social inequities in the Greater Boston area.
“A primary focus of Boston Celtics United is to make a meaningful impact through programs that support Economic Opportunity and Empowerment,” said Steve Pagliuca, Celtics Managing Partner & Alternate Governor and Chairman of the Boston Celtics Shamrock Foundation. The Power Forward Small Business Grant is a major step in these efforts, and we are grateful to partner with Vistaprint and the NAACP in this shared vision.”