At no other time in this generation have the ill consequences of systemic racism collided with such force in the social consciousness of America. To directly address the racial injustices and inequities magnified by both COVID-19 and the killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and others, ESSENCE, the leading media, technology and commerce company serving Black women and communities, have announced the groundbreaking ESSENCE Unstoppable Collective — a $100 million public-private-NGO partnership and equity and justice benefit initiative for sustained change. While short-term relief efforts and emergency funding have helped bridge immediate needs through recent challenges, addressing the root issues of economic inequities and systemic injustice in new ways with new action is required for the long-term sustainability of Black and Brown communities.
“This Juneteenth is perhaps the most significant of our generation as it is the first time that this Freedom Day has been met with such an international awakening to the systemic injustices that continue to plague Black people in America more than 150 years later,” said Richelieu Dennis, founder and chair, Essence Ventures (parent company of ESSENCE). “Whether sizeable health and economic disparities that have been highlighted in the wake of COVID-19 or acts of brutality against Black people perpetrated by both police and rogue vigilantes, these injustices cannot be viewed separately from the context of systems and practices that breed prolific generational oppression and inequities. As ‘liberty and justice for all’ remain an aspiration rather than an actualization, we know that large systemic issues require large systemic change. So, on this day in particular and as the nation prepares to celebrate its Declaration of Independence, it’s time for us to make a national Declaration of Equity – one that addresses our nation’s unresolved disparities with sustained resources, unyielding commitment and a new urgency.”
Thus, through unprecedented alliances with city, corporate and non-profit partners and via public donations, the ESSENCE Unstoppable Collective will raise funds through the New Voices Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization guided by its PACE (Purpose.Access.Capital.Expertise) model, to support and impact four key pillars driving racial equity in America – economic parity, health equity, education equality and equal justice.
Dennis continued, “As the longest-running Black media platform and a 100% Black-owned company that has championed the issues of our community for 50 years, ESSENCE is especially excited to launch this $100 million partnership initiative to impact equity and justice in America. We do so in honor of our ancestors, in honor of this pivotal moment in American history, and in honor of our future generations that they may understand our struggles only through a lens of history and not experience. We call upon everyone – corporations, cities, NGOs and households across the nation – expressing support for Black lives and against racism to join us in collectively raising our voices and using our resources in commitment to purpose, progress and real solutions for real change, not just in this moment – but for years to come.”
Launching on June 25, the Collective, with inaugural public partners including the cities of New Orleans, Chicago, New York, Atlanta, San Francisco and Washington, DC, will customize impact programs under each pillar, including recovery and sustainability efforts focused on funding for businesses left out of the federal government’s CARES Act/PPP; resources for essential workers; entrepreneur training and other programs; job placement and readiness services; food security; mental health programs; tools addressing disparities in healthcare delivery; education access; organizations supporting racial equity and inclusion; and more. Visit www.essence.com/unstoppablecollective for more information.
“We are grateful to each of the mayors and cities who have joined with us at the start and who recognize the power of public-private-NGO partnerships to create sustainable solutions for some of the greatest challenges in our society,” said Dennis. “We look forward to the impact that we will make together across our key pillars and the generations that will benefit from the work we are starting now.”
Mayor LaToya Cantrell, City of New Orleans
“We are in the midst of the most pivotal and unprecedented time of this generation; the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, systemic racism, and structural inequality are at our doorsteps calling for action. At a time where it could be easy to retreat, we continue to rise and mobilize as we always have. The Essence Festival of Culture has always been a reminder of the power, tenacity, and love generated by our people for our people. While we won’t be able to come together this July in the City of New Orleans, the virtual experience will allow us to celebrate and connect with one another across the globe at a time when we need it the most. The City of New Orleans and ESSENCE will partner in new ways at the virtual experience to launch the Unstoppable Collective and advance equity in our communities. We look forward to welcoming everyone back to the Crescent City for the 27th Essence Festival of Culture in 2021.”
Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot, City of Chicago
“Perhaps for the first time, Juneteenth falls during a global moment when all eyes are focused on the inequities that have persisted since June 19, 1865 – when the conditions and events of our present and past have amassed to the point that people are demanding true and lasting change to how society treats and embraces its Black Community. This hugely ambitious initiative is a bold, visionary and necessary effort to address the profound generational inequities that exist in every city across the country, and we are proud to join forces with Essence and others to raise every voice, and create meaningful and equitable opportunities for Black people.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio, City of New York
“It’s critical that we continue to combat systemic inequity – and Essence is a leader in that fight. Their partnership will help us continue to deliver support for small businesses and Minority and Women-Owned Businesses. When our neighborhood stores thrive, our communities do too.”
SOURCE: Black PR Wire