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Kaiser Permanente: Fighting Racism Through Economic Opportunity

Oregon investments are part of a long-term and unwavering mission to fight structural and systemic inequities that fuel health, economic, and social disparities.

Originally published on about.kaiserpermanente.org.

Kaiser Permanente Northwest announced a series of local investments in Black-owned businesses and nonprofits, including rapid response grants, business loans, and professional development. These local actions build on recently announced national grants and financing equity totaling $100 million to support Black businesses.

“Systemic racism is built into our culture and society, and it can only be defeated through long-term commitment and sustained action,” said Jeff Collins, regional president for Kaiser Permanente of the Northwest. “We can’t fully address the health of our members and our communities without addressing racism and economic opportunity, and I’m proud of Kaiser Permanente’s active commitment to making a change.”

Kaiser Permanente Northwest will give a total of $250,000 to 10 local nonprofits that are on the front lines in the fight against systemic racism:

  1. African American Alliance for Homeownership
  2. Albina Head Start
  3. Black Parent Initiative
  4. Black United Fund of Oregon
  5. KairosPDX
  6. Portland African American Leadership Forum
  7. NAACP Vancouver
  8. Eugene Springfield NAACP
  9. Self Enhancement Inc.
  10. Urban League of Portland

Each $25,000 grant will be directed toward general operating expenses to provide flexibility for the organizations to use the money where it can have the most impact in Oregon and Southwest Washington.

“Kaiser Permanente is an ally in our mission to ensure everyone can achieve their highest potential,” said LM Alaiyo Foster, CEO of the Black United Fund of Oregon. “They are an amazing partner who is allowing us to make the tangible differences necessary to ensure equity and justice across all social systems and institutions.”

Small business loans

COVID-19 will have long-term implications on the small business community.

To help business owners of color cope with economic hardship due to COVID-19 and help close the racial wealth gap, Kaiser Permanente will create economic opportunities for Black-owned businesses through loans and professional services in the Northwest.

Kaiser Permanente and LISC, the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, the nation’s largest community development organization, launched a $60 million investment partnership to strengthen minority-owned businesses in the wake of COVID-19. The national Rapid Relief and Resiliency Fund will provide loans of $100,000 to $4 million to small businesses of color to support recovery, stabilization, and growth in the wake of COVID-19.

Kaiser Permanente Northwest is working with local chambers of commerce and business groups to encourage Oregon and Southwest Washington businesses led by Black and other underrepresented individuals to apply for a loan through the fund. LISC is now accepting loan applications from local small business owners of color.

Professional development

To further address systemic economic inequities, Kaiser Permanente has designated $15 million in grant dollars to expand access to formal professional training, business networks, and recovery and growth capital for people of color.  Kaiser Permanente and ICIC, the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City, launched their partnership in July 2019, providing a cohort of business owners with executive leadership training through the Inner City Capital Connection program.

“I have gained so much through my participation in ICCC,” said Sharon Maxwell, chief executive officer, Bratton Construction and Boanerges Group. “It gave me the courage to go after national projects; go back to school and complete 2 bachelors’ and a master’s degree; and even retool my operations to adapt to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. I am so thankful to Kaiser Permanente for its continued investment in ICCC as it is making a huge difference for minority-owned businesses, particularly as we manage the ongoing financial impacts of the pandemic.”

Kaiser Permanente and ICIC’s expanded partnership will increase the Black business community’s access to these impactful professional development programs. Learn more about services offered by Initiative for a Competitive Inner City/Inner City Capital Connection and how you can get involved.

About Kaiser Permanente

For 75 years, Kaiser Permanente has been committed to shaping the future of health and health care — and helping our members, patients, and communities experience more healthy years. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Since July 21, 1945, Kaiser Permanente’s mission has been to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve 12.4 million members in 8 states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal Permanente Medical Group physicians, specialists, and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery, and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education, and the support of community health.

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