The Kroger Co. Foundation has awarded $3 million in funding to Black Girl Ventures, Everytable, LISC and Thurgood Marshall College Fund as part of its Racial Equity Fund Build It Together Challenge.
As part of its Framework for Action, The Kroger Co. Foundation has revealed the recipients of its Racial Equity Fund Built It Together grant challenge — an initiative awarding $3 millionto help build more equitable and inclusive communities.
The foundation invited 14 organizations to apply for up to $1 million in funding through the Build It Together grant challenge, which welcomed organizations to submit proposals aimed at positively uplifting, supporting and impacting communities of color. A panel of judges, including Kroger associates and leaders, external partners, and local community foundations, evaluated the proposals and selected four finalists that collectively will receive $3 million to accelerate their visions.
"We launched our Framework for Action: Diversity, Equity & Inclusion plan with the goal of harnessing Kroger's collective energy to advance racial equality in our culture and our communities," said Keith Dailey, Kroger's group VP of corporate affairs and president of The Kroger Co. Foundation. "The intent of The Kroger Co. Foundation's Racial Equity Fund is to catalyze innovative approaches to help create more equitable, inclusive and stronger communities. The Build It Together cohort reflects a group of enterprising organizations that are committed to creating lasting change for communities of color. We're honored to partner with them."
The Kroger Co. Foundation's Build It Together grant recipients include:
Black Girl Ventures, Washington, D.C.: Founded in 2016 by serial entrepreneur and computer scientist Shelly Bell, Black Girl Ventures' (BGV) mission is to provide Black and brown women founders with access to community, capital and capacity building to meet business milestones that lead to economic advancement through entrepreneurship. BGV scales tech-enabled, revenue-generating businesses under $1 million to create racial and gender equity and an inclusive free market. It operates five chapters and has funded more than 130 Black and brown women, held more than 30 BGV pitch programs across 12 cities, leveraging $600,000-plus in funding, and served more than 600 participants. BGV will use its $500,000 Build It Together grant to launch two Change Agent Fellowship cohorts, in Cincinnati and Detroit, repectively, to increase racial equity.
Everytable, Los Angeles: The organization's mission is to transform the food system to make fresh food accessible to everyone, everywhere through grab-and-go storefront markets in communities with an extreme scarcity of healthy food options. Everytable's social equity franchise program removes barriers to business ownership for Black and Latinx entrepreneurs to eliminate racial wealth disparities and expand access to healthy food. It will use its $1 million Build It Together grant to expand an innovative public-private funding structure to spur an increase in business ownership for Black entrepreneurs, and people of color broadly, with the goal of opening 40 people-of-color-owned franchises over the next two years.
LISC, New York:The Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) is the country's largest community development organization. With offices in 36 cities and a rural program that serves more than 2,200 counties in 45 states, LISC's team is committed to creating economic opportunity for all. LISC will use its $500,000 Build It Together grant to launch a long-term partnership to advance Project 10X, the organization's strategy to close the racial health, wealth and opportunity gaps in America. The organization's proposal aims to support food-system businesses and community organizations working for equitable food access, led by and serving Black and Indigenous people, and people of color.
Thurgood Marshall College Fund, Washington, D.C.: Established in 1987, the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) is the nation's largest organization exclusively representing the Black college community. Through scholarships, capacity building, strategic partnerships and innovative planning, TMCF serves as a critical access point for students, from college to career. TMCF will use its $1 million Build It Together grant to adapt its innovation and entrepreneurship program to focus on food insecurity and food waste, particularly in low-income and underserved Black communities. The challenge will combine the program model to bring the winning ideas to market, leveraging expertise from Kroger and its partners like Feeding America, as well as the community focus of historically Black colleges and universities, and the research capacity of these educational institutions.
"We're eager to partner with these four exceptional organizations to create a brighter, more equitable future for the communities we serve," said Sunny Reelhorn Parr, executive director of The Kroger Co. Foundation. "As a purpose-led organization, we know that actions speak louder than words. We remain committed to not only illuminating the important, impactful work of groups like these, but also sharing our resources and delivering on the promises of our Framework for Action to accelerate meaningful change in our culture and country."
The Build It Together cohort will leverage funding from the foundation to implement innovative programs and initiatives over the next 12 months and beyond.
Kroger unveiled its Framework for Action: Diversity, Equity & Inclusion plan in October 2020 to accelerate and promote greater change in the workplace and in the communities the company serves. Featuring both immediate and longer-term steps developed in collaboration with associates and leaders, the plan features five focus areas: Create More Inclusive Culture, Develop Diverse Talent, Advance Diverse Partnerships, Advance Equitable Communities, and Deeply Listen and Report Progress.
As an example of its commitment to its diversity and inclusion, Kroger recently celebrated its third consecutive perfect score on the 2021 Corporate Equality Index, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation's national benchmarking tool for corporate policies and practices supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) employees.
Cincinnati-based Kroger employs nearly half a million associates who serve 9 million-plus customers daily through a seamless digital shopping experience and 2,800 retail food stores under a variety of banner names. The company is No. 3 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2020 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.