NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – The Black Chamber of Commerce for Hampton Roads, also known as
Black BRAND, has been selected to receive a large grant to assist minority businesses in the
City of Norfolk.

Black BRAND, a non-profit organization, will be receiving two grants totaling $120,000. It will receive $95,000 from the Sentara Healthcare Community Partner Grant and $25,000 from IKEA’s
Commitment to Black Equality.

Black BRAND’s president and co-founder Blair Durham voiced her appreciation to Sentara
Healthcare and IKEA, saying, “In a world where obstacles have always existed for communities
of color and minority-owned businesses, now is a critical time to explore ways to boost funding
and secure access to capital.”

Sherry Norquist, the director of community engagement and impact for Sentara said, “Sentara
Healthcare’s commitment to partners such as Black BRAND is critical to our mission of
strengthening economic opportunities for businesses in the Black and Latino communities.”

The grants are intended to improve the quality of life for commonly underserved black
communities which have experienced disproportionate economic and health impacts caused by
the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the ensuing recession.

The specific areas aimed at improvement include education, health, and racial equity.

Black BRAND plans on investing $125,000 in Norfolk and Portsmouth-based minority-owned
businesses through their B-Force Accelerator initiative.

“We believe it’s what’s going to take them to the next level, what’s going to put food on their family’s table. We believe that they are going to be able to create jobs,” Durham told WAVY.

B-Force Accelerator is a 12-week intensive program that offers strategic, organizational and financial planning, as well as legal, accounting and marketing resources.

“If they need an operating agreement created, if they need a work-for-hire agreement created, if they need a new logo, if they need an updated website, if they need their taxes filed — these are things we are able to provide through the program,” said Durham.

In order to be eligible, the business must be at least two years old that have an annual income under $75,000.

Eligible Norfolk business owners are encouraged to apply for the program as quickly as possible. The
application deadline is Friday, June 10, with only 40 applicants being selected due to capacity.

For more information on Black BRAND or B-Force Accelerator, please visit BlackBRAND.Biz.