February 28, 2022
Honoring Black History Month: Highlighting Community Foundation for Northern Virginia’s Investments in the Northern Virginia Black Chamber of Commerce
In 2021, the Community Foundation launched Build Back- Dream Forward, an initiative to achieve economic mobility, promote racial justice and equity, and catalyze more inclusive means of economic growth in Northern Virginia, particularly in local communities of color that were disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and its myriad of consequences.  Over the course of two years, the Community Foundation convened three conferences and awarded more than $2.6 million in grants. Two of these grants- amounting to $25,000 altogether, went to the Northern Virginia Black Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber’s main goal is to promote the growth and development of Black small businesses in the region, a task already made difficult by the structural inequities of our society, exacerbated further by COVID-19.

Through support from the fund, the NVBCC has been able to further implement programming and administer its Build Thriving Returns Now initiative, which seeks to directly target revitalization programs geared toward industries and enterprises most hard hit in the Black community. The grant also supported the Chamber’s ability to build capacity- an important way to prepare for the uncertainties that may yet come. The Foundation’s own research shows the unique need for support of Black small business. There were about 27,000 of these establishments in 2019. Forty-one percent of these businesses shuttered between March and May of 2020, compared to 17% of white-owned businesses. There is also the overarching issue of income inequality and housing burden- historically Black neighborhoods are at a greater risk of displacement, and the cost of living as a percentage of income, also called housing burden, is among the highest in the United States.

“Our goal is to facilitate the economic empowerment of Black-owned businesses in Northern Virginia...together, I believe we can set a new foundation for a robust economy now, and for the next generation.” said Sheila Dixon, the NVBCC’s Executive Director. In times of crisis and great change, it is often one spark or push that can ignite and inspire movement, leading to the building blocks for a better future.

The Community foundation is proud to have supported this meaningful and consequential initiative.