Local charity gets a helping hand | Local

A local effort to give a helping hand to businesses in southeast Fort Wayne will receive help from it, officials said on Friday.

The Family and Friends Fund for Southeast Fort Wayne is one of 10 early stage social enterprises selected by Uncharted, a Social Impact Accelerator. The local fund will participate in the Uncharted Economic Inequality Initiative, a six-month accelerator supporting programs to address economic inequality in the United States.

Each participating organization will receive $ 25,000 in unrestricted funding, access to a peer support community and presentations to subject matter experts, according to a press release.

“We are on the moon. We’re so encouraged by this, ”said Kristin Giant, co-founder of the Family and Friends Fund.

The fund, which has already raised more than $ 500,000 in cash and in-kind contributions, will use the money to hire a young person living in the southeast as an administrator, she said.

Giant and Ty Simmons created the fund in June 2020 “in response to the glaring and growing economic inequalities in Fort Wayne – with most of the resource shortage concentrated in the southeast quadrant of our city,” according to a press release.

The fund, which is hosted by the Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne, invests in aspiring entrepreneurs and struggling artists. He even accepts small donations from the public.

Blacks, Aboriginals and people of color living in southeast Fort Wayne decide who will receive financial assistance from the fund, Giant said.

The five-person board members are: Simmons, executive director of Human Agricultural Cooperative; Diane Rogers, retired from the Fort Wayne Police Department; Condra Ridley, an African storyteller retired from the Allen County Public Library; Ephraim Smiley II, an anti-hunger advocate who once worked for community schools in Fort Wayne, among others; and Bishop George McCowan, pastor since 1979.

More than $ 87 billion in charitable assets are in funds nationwide pending someone to decide who should receive the money, according to the press release. The founders of the Family and Friends Fund hope to expand their program nationwide, to encourage more community foundations to involve minority activists in decisions about who receives grants to address income inequality, Giant said.

Uncharted received 344 applications from early stage companies across the United States and worked with a diverse selection committee to assess the applications. The 10 selected companies are closing the wealth gap in the United States through education, housing, small business support, financial literacy and policy advocacy, the statement said.

The economic divide in the United States is sharp and growing. In the decades following the Great Recession, the middle and lower classes saw their collective wealth decline by more than 20%, disproportionately affecting women, people of color and young people, according to a press release.

Banks Benitez, CEO of Uncharted, described economic inequality as the biggest problem facing society.

“Generational issues require new ways of thinking long term, building power and creating change,” he said in a statement. “We are honored to work alongside the entrepreneurs and activists leading the way. “

The goal of the Family and Friends Fund is to raise $ 1 million to help minority residents of Southeast Fort Wayne create generational wealth and connectivity. So far, more than 2,000 donors have contributed to the fund, Giant said. Most of the freebies, she said, were under $ 100.

Supporters have created their own fundraisers, such as bake sales, car washes, and handmade jewelry sales. The fund’s board does not get involved in reviewing and sanctioning fundraising ideas, Giant said.

“It’s horrible and wonderful,” she said of the mishmash.

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