UW Combined Fund Drive

January 19, 2023

Observe Black History Month by supporting Black-owned businesses

February marks the annual Black History Month recognition in the U.S., celebrating the achievements, influences and legacies of Black Americans.

Supporting Black-owned businesses – this month and all year long – is an easy and effective way to show solidarity with Black entrepreneurs whose products and services deserve patronage.

Black-owned businesses comprise about 10% of U.S. businesses and about 30% of all minority-owned businesses, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Common black-owned businesses range from consulting services to restaurants, with 40% of black-owned businesses falling into areas such as health care and social assistance. 

Unsurprisingly, the COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately hurt minority-owned businesses during the past two years, with 41% of Black-owned businesses shuttered between 2020 and 2022. Many of these businesses have not rebounded.

Historically, Black and other minority Americans have struggled to procure financing for their business endeavors. Recent initiatives to elevate Black-owned businesses – such as the 15 Percent Pledge that asks stores to dedicate 15% of shelf space to Black-owned brands – seek to rectify the systemic wealth discrepancies and racial bias that have negatively impacted Black communities and entrepreneurs.

Many see supporting Black-owned businesses as a means of combating racial injustice.

Supporting Black business owners not only acknowledges the wealth gap by creating a path for establishing sustained, multi-generational wealth in the Black community, it also celebrates Black culture by sustaining products and services that are culturally relevant and appropriate.

Of course, the persistent wealth gap between white people and Black people in America is the result of centuries of discriminatory attitudes and practices, not just consumer spending habits. While supporting Black-owned businesses both demonstrates a commitment to social justice and addresses the wealth gap, correcting this deep-seated problem is also a question of public policy.

Take Action

While we should uplift and support minority-owned and Black-owned businesses year-round, this Black History Month is an excellent opportunity to:

Shop local: Rather than putting your dollars toward large corporate stores, support small Black-owned businesses and restaurants in your community. Check out this page for resources and tools for supporting Seattle’s black communities or this kid-friendly list from Tiny Beans.

Follow the hashtag: With good intentions, social media can be a great resource; use hashtags such as #ShopBlackOwned and #SupportBlackBusiness to find Black businesses. On Amazon, use #BlackisRemarkable.

Spread the word: share your favorite Black-owned businesses or restaurants with friends and family by word of mouth or on social media. Leave reviews and make it a point to become a repeat customer.

Check out Black-owned business websites in the Pacific Northwest

Eat out: Here are some Black-owned restaurants in the Northwest. Sweet bonus: Check out these six Black-owned bakeries in Seattle, or grab a cup at Black Coffee Northwest in Shoreline or Ballard.

Volunteer: there are opportunities to help out at Everybody’s Gotta Eat, a community meal program serving free food Thursdays and Saturdays 2-6 pm and at Feed the People, a community kitchen open Thursday through Saturday 1-6 pm.

Learn more

Read: A Short History of Black Cooperatives in America and Partner with the UWCFD to support Black-led nonprofits

Engage: Ujamaa Food Circle is a collaboration between Black Star Farmers and Seattle BIPOC Organic to help  BIPOC families achieve food sovereignty by providing monthly healthy organic food boxes that nourish and educate, while honoring the foods of their ancestors.

Be well: Gathering Roots Retreat & Wellness Center is “…a Black led, Indigenous and POC centered wellness collective working to heal intergenerational trauma and provide place and space for JOYful growth! Through community wellness/activist teachers and sharing space with our farm, we intend to cultivate food and cultural sovereignty.”

Get inspired: The Brotherhood Initiative is a cohort-based program that provides opportunities for academic growth and leadership, exploration of intersecting identities, and support to underrepresented men of color at the University of Washington.

Support

Consider making a one-time gift or setting up monthly payroll deduction to a UWCFD nonprofit organization that supports the education and development of Black entrepreneurship:

University of Washington Black Opportunity Fund (charity code 1482916): The UW Black Opportunity Fund invests in services and programs for health and academic success, including but not limited to Black student organizations, Graduate Opportunities and Minority Achievement Program, the Brotherhood Initiative, and the Women’s Center.

University of Washington Costco Diversity Scholarship (charity code 1481296): General support for the UW Diversity Scholars Program – an intensive effort by the UW to increase the number of highly qualified underrepresented minority students.

University of Washington Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity EOP Fund for Excellence (charity code 0519565): The UW Educational Opportunity Program Fund provides support and resources for emergency scholarship support, EOP programming, orientation, and recognition events.

NAACP’s Legal Defense and Educational Fund (charity code 0316271): This fund uses litigation, advocacy, and public education to work towards racial justice and equality for all Americans. The organization is fighting to protect voting rights, reform the criminal justice system, and improve equal access to education, among other civil rights causes.