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AFRO spotlight on Black excellence: six organizations with a social justice mission

By Megan Sayles,
AFRO Business Writer,
msayles@afro.com

The age-old adage tells us to put our money where our mouth is. Rather than spend money with businesses that are just looking to turn a profit, civil rights activists and other social change agents say it’s critical that consumers look to fund nonprofits and companies that are tackling modern civil rights issues, like mass incarceration, the racial wealth divide, and equitable education. 

Here’s a look at some business and community leaders who are using their ventures to create social change. 

CLLCTIVLY

Yes, the spelling is nontraditional, but CLLCTIVLY’s vital services are unusual, too. This Baltimore-based organization was founded in 2019 by Jamye Wooten to prevent the fragmentation and duplication of nonprofit programs. 

CLLCTIVLY created a virtual asset directory of organizations in the Greater Baltimore area and organized them by neighborhood and focus area, so community leaders do not waste their time, talent and resources establishing programs or nonprofits that already exist. It also dedicates itself to funding Black futures with various initiatives, including: CLLCTIVGIVE, a two-day crowdfunding campaign for Black social change organizations; Adaptive Village Small Grants Program, a program that supports community members who are creating healthy spaces for children; and the Black Futures Micro-Grant, which awards unrestricted funding to Black woman-led organizations in Greater Baltimore. 

Parity Homes 

After witnessing how gentrification led to the unjust displacement of Black and Brown communities across New York City, Bree Jones committed herself to being a housing activist. Following her move to Charm City, Jones in 2020 founded Parity, an equitable development company in West Baltimore. The business purchases and rehabilitates abandoned properties by the block and sells them to community members at affordable prices. For Parity, homeownership is an avenue for Black communities to create generational wealth. 

Helping Ourselves Transform 

A Black- and woman-led nonprofit, Helping Ourselves Transform provides citizens returning from incarceration with the tools they need to rebuild their lives. 

The organization was founded by Carmen Johnson, who served three years in federal prison for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and making false statements on loan accounts. Johnson maintains that she was wrongfully convicted and has dedicated herself to promoting mass liberation. 

Helping Ourselves Transform provides returning citizens with various one-on-one services, including employment training, job placement, financial literacy, parole preparation and peer-to-peer counseling. It has also partnered with schools in Maryland and D.C. on a youth diversion program to help young people transition from adolescence to adulthood and avoid incarceration.

Health in Her Hue 

This digital platform was created to address the health disparities that Black women face. Founded in 2018 by Ashlee Wisdom and Eddwina Bright, Health in Her Hue connects Black women and other women of color with culturally competent healthcare providers. Users can enter information, such as their zip code and health insurance, and pick from a list of specialties and care proficiencies to locate the doctor they need. Health in Her Hue also offers a variety of resources on topics geared toward women of color, ranging from breast health, chronic diseases and pregnancy. 

Expedition Sahara 

Founded in 2018 by Senegal-native Sofi Seck, Expedition Sahara provides colorful, handmade home goods. Each design celebrates the tradition and history of Africa’s craftsmanship, and the products are made with cultural techniques that have been passed down from generation to generation. Expedition Sahara also dedicates 20 percent of its annual profits to an education fund that will be used to build a science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) school for girls in Senegal. 

Beauty Bakerie 

Cashmere Nicole founded Beauty Bakerie in 2011, and since then the brand has illustrated how makeup and activism can unite. Every Beauty Bakerie product is cruelty-free and vegan-friendly, and they are available in big makeup stores, including Ulta Beauty and Sephora. A portion of the company’s sales supports Nicole’s nonprofit, Sugar Homes, which s orphaned children across the world. One home is located in Kasese, Uganda and serves 24 children. Recently, Beauty Bakerie pinpointed another location in Zanzibar, Tanzania, which is set to better the lives of 200 children. 

Megan Sayles is a Report for America Corps member. 

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