July 15, 2024
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WEV wins $50K Bank of America grant for equity programs


Women’s Economic Ventures received $50,000 in grant funding from Bank of America’s philanthropic program to help underrepresented entrepreneurs on the Central Coast.

The grant, announced by the Santa Barbara-based nonprofit on Nov. 17, will be used to advance a micro-grant and entrepreneurial training pilot program it launched recently in partnership with an Oxnard-based nonprofit supporting indigenous migrant communities on the Central Coast. The grant will also other WEV programs addressing systemic barriers to help close racial and gender equity gaps, WEV said.

The grant covers two years, and WEV has so far receiving funding for the first year.

WEV plans to continue the rollout of its Forgivable Business Loan and Coaching Program, which provides small business owners with no-cost technical assistance and training as well as $10,000 in forgivable loans to support their recovery and growth.

Recently, WEV launched a new micro-grant and entrepreneurial training pilot in partnership with the Mixteco Indígena Community Organizing Project to provide entrepreneurial training, technical assistance and business micro-grants in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

“We are expanding our specialized, modular, and racially inclusive programs and services, and developing funding programs that address systemic barriers to help close racial and gender equity gaps,” Nikki Parr, WEV’s director of programs, services and strategy, told the Business Times via email. “New WEV programs will help small business owners become more financially confident, as we continue to deliver core trainings around starting a business, writing a business plan, and marketing your business.”

WEV is creating more specialist advisory services, including marketing support, as well as continuing to deliver general business advisory support, Parr said. All services are offered in English and Spanish.

WEV will also be using the funds to invest in its own staff. Devon Johnson, the nonprofit’s grants and budget manager, said WEV employees will receive training in curriculum development and the creation of online courses, enhancing professional skills like credit counseling and project management skills, and leadership development.

Bank of America’s Neighborhood Champions program is invitation-only for nonprofits that are “poised to take their work to the next level,” according to the bank. Bank of America has invested $6.3 million into nearly 130 nonprofits across more than 40 communities since the program’s inception in 2019.