Winston-Salem will be one of five North Carolina participants in the Forward Cities initiative being funded in part by a $400,000 grant from the Truist Foundation.
Forward Cities, a nonprofit based in Durham, plans to launch a version of the Black Wall Street Forward program, an initiative to grow and sustain Black businesses.
The groups said Black Wall Street Forward is a nine-month learning network “that explores and seeks to change the narrative of disenfranchisement for American Black businesses.”
Forward Cities said it would provide more details in four to six weeks on the pilot program and how the participants will be engaged.
The program will provide capacity building and shared learning experiences for entrepreneurs, community leaders and advocates.
“Each community will engage an ecosystem builder-in residence, a 12-person council of Back community leaders and allies, and feature a physical hub that is dedicated to prioritizing support for Black entrepreneurs,” according to the group.
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“Beyond the council, we will engage 1,000-plus plus additional community leaders, members and entrepreneurs in the initiative across the five communities, with the hope of impacting countless more over future generations.”
Provident1898, a Black-centric co-working community located in historic Mutual Tower in downtown Durham, will serve as the program’s headquarters.
Other participating communities involve Charlotte, Fayetteville and Raleigh. The program was unveiled in Durham last week.
Forward Cities and the Truist foundation have not provided examples of how the initiative would be rolled out in Winston-Salem.
“We hope to collaboratively shape a sustainable model for the future of thriving, equitably invested and self-determined Black-centric entrepreneurial communities that support high quality, competitive businesses,” Forward Cities president and chief executive Fay Horwitt said in a statement.
Dontá Wilson, chief retail and small business banking officer at Truist, said a primary goal with the grant is playing another role in “breaking systemic and racial inequity barriers to ensure all have access to equitable opportunities.”
“Through this program, Forward Cities will create a learning network of local Black-owned small businesses with the goal of building more equitable and financially sustainable ecosystems.”
The initiative is modeled on the pillars that made Durham’s original Black Wall Street financial initiative led by NC Mutual founders John Merrick, Aaron Moore and C.C. Spaulding.
Goals of the Black Wall Street Forward program include: articulating the historical and systemic realities that have led to the disenfranchisement and underinvestment of Black-owned businesses/districts; and launching a marketing campaign to promote the resilience of Black entrepreneurs and the communities in which they are embedded.
More information about this program and others can be found at forwardcities.org.