Structural racism, economic exclusion, occupational segregation, and other policies and practices have denied communities of color the opportunity to build wealth and achieve economic security for generations. Small businesses have long been one of the few ways people of color, women, and immigrants have been able to build wealth in the United States, and are one of the key strategies to closing the racial wealth gap in America. Despite this, Black people own fewer than 2 percent of small businesses with any employees in the nation while making up 13 percent of the country’s population. Starting, growing, and sustaining a small business is more difficult for people of color due to historic discrimination & racism, despite being one of the few pathways to true economic security available. These pre-existing barriers have been exacerbated by the pandemic and an uneven economic recovery.

With the passage of the American Rescue Plan Act, Inflation Reduction Act, and other Federal spending bills, the Federal government has given states billions of dollars that can be used to help small businesses. This funding, coupled with philanthropic investments could drive both a more equitable economic recovery and progress towards meaningful economic security for BIPOC communities and ultimately help close the racial wealth gap.

On February 23rd, 2023 we:

  • Discussed how Federal funding can be used to achieve a truly equitable recovery for BIPOC communities;
  • Explored the ecosystems and supports that currently exist for small businesses, and those needed to reach and support BIPOC-owned businesses;
  • Learned how philanthropy, in partnership with communities, can help drive an equitable recovery and ensure government spending gets to the people who need it most.


Christa Brown, Senior Program Officer, Policy Advocacy, San Francisco Foundation
Trevor Parham, Founder & CEO, Oakstop and Cofounder, Oakland Black Business Fund
Michael Russo, Vice President of Policy and Programs, Catalyst California
Christine Tien, Senior Program Manager, The California Endowment
Read their Bios


Accelerating an Equitable Recovery in the Bay Area: Opportunities for Aligned Action