Launched in 2021, the Southern Communities Initiative is a broader plan that works to accelerate racial equity funding, programming and outcomes for disinvested communities in the southern United States. The initiative is supported by Paypal, Boston Consulting Group and leading global investment firm, Vista Equity Partners (Vista), of which Robert F. Smith is Founder, Chairman and CEO.
ULLA is working to increase the volume and value of Black-owned businesses by providing $10 million to ULLA’s Black Business Works Fund to support 3,000-4,000 minority-owned businesses. Additionally, it will provide $20 million to fund the New Orleans Business Alliance, Thrive New Orleans and Propellor in order to scale bookkeeping, B2C payment, marketing support and subsidized rent, supporting over 200 minority businesses with up to $5 million in annual revenues.
ULLA will provide $30 million to help four to five Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs) to hire and train staff, expand marketing and leverage teams to conduct needs diagnostics, implement tech solutions and provide technical assistance.
ULLA will provide up to $35 million in donations towards creating internet hotspots and offering laptops for up to 55,000 homes in the Greater New Orleans region. Additionally, the organization will increase community outreach efforts in low-income areas to help get households onto Emergency Broadband Benefits for high-speed internet service.
The Southern Communities Initiative is geographically focused on the six main urban areas where 51% of Black Americans reside: Atlanta; Birmingham, AL; Charlotte; Houston; Memphis; and Greater New Orleans. To date, Southern Communities Initiative has partnered with over 90 organizations and supported over 9,000 Black-owned businesses and minority business enterprises.