Grants Of Up To $50,000 Available For Black-Owned And Small Businesses Affected By Mass Shooting In East Buffalo

Black businesses are among those that can seek grants in East Buffalo, New York, ranging from $5,000 to $50,000.

Black-owned small businesses in East Buffalo, New York, affected by a mass shooting nearly two years ago, are eligible to apply for grants of up to $50,000.

The Empire State Development (ESD) has announced that applications for Round 3 of the East Buffalo Small Business Working Capital Grant Program are available now through May 10.

According to a news release, the $3 million program funded by ESD is offering grants from $5,000 to $50,000 to eligible small businesses in East Buffalo. It will be used to mainly to help minority-owned firms overcome the social, economic impact of the shooting at a Tops Friendly Market along Jefferson Avenue.

The supermarket, located in a mostly Black neighborhood, reopened in June 2022 after 10 people were killed there by a white supremacist the previous month.

The backing is needed as gaining access to capital for Black entrepreneurs is an ongoing obstacle. For instance, support for Black-founded startups dropped in 2023 to under $1 billion to $705 million, per this report. That was the first such decline since 2016.

The latest effort is linked to recovery efforts statewide after the store  attack. Almost 70 businesses reportedly gained over $800,000 in grants from the East Buffalo Small Business Working Capital Grant Program in two previous funding rounds.

For the current funding round, those seeking grants must be in a designated area in East Buffalo and  meet other criteria. According to the Local Initiatives Support Corporation-New York (LISC NY), administrating the program for ESD, applicants can apply for just one business and must be aged 18 to do so.

Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Hope Knight offered this statement. “I encourage business owners to take advantage of an expanded eligibility map and added technical assistance to apply for the East Buffalo Small Business Working Capital Grant Program. Through this program and others, New York State affirms its strong partnership with these predominantly minority-owned enterprises as they continue to serve the community.”

Valerie White, senior executive director at LISC NY, stated, “The East Buffalo community was shaken to its core following the devastating mass shooting at Tops, and we’re proud to work with our partners at Empire State Development to help connect neighboring small businesses with resources to help them recover from the impacts.

She added, “This targeted support, which is now expanding to a wider geographic footprint, will help ensure these primarily minority-owned businesses are able continue to support their community as we work hard to grow our investments in this historically underserved area and, ultimately, close the racial wealth gap.”

So far, over 200 business have applied for funding, according to ESD. Check out more details here.

RELATED CONTENT: Memorial Plans Set Just One Year After Buffalo Supermarket Mass Shooting


Black Community Alliance Opens New Brick-And-Mortar Space In Meridian


The Black Community Alliance held the grand opening of their brick and mortar location Friday giving them a place to meet with local businesses.

Posted at 5:41 PM, Mar 29, 2024

and last updated 2024-03-29 19:41:55-04

  • The Black Community Alliance held the grand opening of its brick-and-mortar location Friday.
  • Businesses can take advantage of their resources Monday through Friday by appointment.
  • A directory of black-owned businesses can be found on their website.

(Below is the transcript from the broadcast story)

Smiles and hugs were not in short supply at the grand opening of the Black Community Alliance’s brick-and-mortar location.

“The new location makes it real,” said Trish Walker.

Trish Walker, CEO and founder of the Black Community Alliance says that the brick-and-mortar location is long overdue. The company has been operating for the past 3 years with Walker and her team working from home.

“Working from home can be tough. Working out of a coffee shop can be tough. And so this gives us a place for you to be able to come. We just want to be that resource to help people to network to help them make those connections and help us grow culturally as a community in Idaho,” said Walker.

The Black Community Alliance currently has about 200 businesses featured on its website. Their goal is to work with black business owners like Monica Conway, who owns an insurance and finance business in Twin Falls.

“It helps so many people here that are transitioning into Idaho, giving them directions, and even though it is the Black Community Alliance they help everybody in contact with whatever they need on starting their business,” said Conway.

Copyright 2024 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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NYPD Investigating After Racial Slur Spray-Painted Outside Black-Owned Restaurant In Brooklyn

BEDFORD STUYVESANT, Brooklyn (WABC) — The NYPD is investigating after a message of hate was spray-painted in bold letters outside a Black-owned restaurant that has served the Brooklyn community for more than a decade.

Police say someone wrote hateful messaging outside Rustik Tavern in Bedford Stuyvesant sometime early Friday morning, a message patrons are now greeted with as they step in and out of the restaurant.

“It just caught us off guard,” Rustik Tavern owner Frantz Metellus said. “We’re coming in to open the business and all of a sudden, boom.”

Metellus is still processing the hateful speech written on the sidewalk outside his business.

“Could it be somebody who’s going through trouble in their mind? Could it just be somebody who just hates me or somebody who just, I don’t know, going through a rough day, I have no idea,” Metellus said.

The n-word is spray-painted twice outside the restaurant.

Metellus believes it happened sometime Friday morning after he closed the business Thursday night.

He says they are looking for surveillance cameras that may have captured the act.

Metellus, a Brooklyn native, opened the restaurant more than 16 years ago, making the transition from an attorney to hospitality.

It’s a new path toward helping his community.

“We pretty much built it because there’s nothing else around here,” Metellus said. “And we thought we were doing it for the neighborhood. And, you know, the neighborhood took a liking to us, and we’ve been here ever since.”

Some describe it as a hidden gem.

“I mean, the food is so good and it’s appealing,” customer Gabrielle Clark said.

Now it’s being investigated as a possible target of hate, according to police.

“It’s pretty crazy. You would think not in this day and age that would happen, but unfortunately, we have those randoms,” Clark said. “They just can’t understand the culture and respect, you know, us being in our spaces.”

“I have to just brush it off and move forward,” Metellus said. “It’s nothing else I can do.”

Metellus says he isn’t going to let this get him down.

He says he’s gathering a team of volunteers to help clean it up as police investigate the crime.


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Health To Go: Black-Owned Company Serves Up Ready-To-Eat Meals

Friday, March 29, 2024 3:58PM

These formerly incarcerated men are running a successful health-food company in Asbury Park, New Jersey.

ASBURY PARK, New Jersey — It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.

These formerly incarcerated men are running a successful health-food company in Asbury Park, New Jersey.

“MacroBites” is the first national Black-owned ready-to-eat service company.

Here to tell us more are MacroBites’ CEO Jarrette Atkins and president David Lewis.


Health To Go: Black-Owned Company Serves Up Ready-To-Eat Meals

Friday, March 29, 2024 3:58PM

These formerly incarcerated men are running a successful health-food company in Asbury Park, New Jersey.

ASBURY PARK, New Jersey — It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.

These formerly incarcerated men are running a successful health-food company in Asbury Park, New Jersey.

“MacroBites” is the first national Black-owned ready-to-eat service company.

Here to tell us more are MacroBites’ CEO Jarrette Atkins and president David Lewis.



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Black-Owned Brands And The Sellout Dilemma: The Lip Bar’s Melissa Butler Offers A New Perspective On An Age-Old Debate | Essence

Many loyalists resent when their favorite brands ‘sell out,’ but is it fair?

Melissa Butler at the 55th NAACP Image Awards held at The Shrine Auditorium on March 16, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by John Salangsang/Variety via Getty Images)

When cherished Black-owned brands like Mielle Organics and The Honey Pot sell to multinational conglomerates, controversy inevitably ensues. There is often a sense of betrayal among loyal customers who resent their ‘selling out.’ Whether that reaction is justified is another matter. 

But, for those who discover brands early on; whose consistent purchases, crowdfunding contributions, and word-of-mouth endorsements contribute to a growing buzz, the resulting sense of pride and ownership is, perhaps, fair.

The connection between Black consumers and their beloved brands is profound. A 2023 Nielsen consumer report revealed that Black consumers spent a staggering $8 billion on Black-owned beauty products, surpassing overall market growth. Even amid inflation, Black shoppers go out of their way to seek out direct-to-consumer merchants, even embracing smaller, lesser-known brands. Whether on platforms like Etsy and Instagram or the aisles of prominent retailers including Sephora and Ulta, Black consumers are actively and deliberately championing products crafted for and by us. For ‘day-ones,’ that loyalty extends beyond mere consumerism; it’s tied to a sense of identity and pride. In a capitalistic system where prosperity means power, it’s a collective investment in generational wealth. 

It’s understandable, then, when consumers are disheartened by black-owned beauty brands like Carol’s Daughter, now owned by L’Oréal and Sundial Brands, actively seek buyouts. For many, the notion of their favorite brand selling its soulful identity to a faceless corporate entity is a violation akin to gentrification, only self imposed. 

Many loyalists resent when their favorite brands ‘sell out,’ but is it fair? Is it fair for consumers to vilify Black brand owners for securing the bag? Is it reasonable to subject them to such intense pressure? Melissa Butler, founder and CEO of The Lip Bar, doesn’t believe so.

Melissa Butler Takes On ‘The Sell Out Myth’

Butler, a millennial business icon, embarked on her entrepreneurial journey to address a gap in the beauty industry. What resulted was the creation of a cruelty-free, vegan, and vibrantly pigmented lipstick brand. The Lip Bar specializes in soft, non-cakey formulations with a flattering finish. 

In the twelve years since its launch, The Lip Bar’s value has risen from $27,000 in year one to $15 million in 2024. Today, you can find it everywhere. As a panelist at the Amazon Black Business Accelerator and Boss Women Media Founders’ Breakfast in Dallas, Butler provided invaluable insights on the ‘sell out’ conversation, before a room packed with Black women entrepreneurs. 

Who’s Going To Buy Me Boo?

“We always talk about wanting to build generational wealth, but there aren’t any Black-owned conglomerates to come and buy our companies. That’s just the reality. So, if you’re The Honey Pot and you’re doing over $100 million in revenue every year, who’s going to buy it?” she rhetorically asked. 

Addressing a common question in debate, Butler challenged, “‘Well, why does it have to be sold at all?’ Because you want all of your hard work to mean something. You put your blood, sweat, and tears into it every day for an eventual payoff. But that payoff never happens if you don’t get a liquidity event,” she said.

Black Ownership Is, Indeed Vital

It’s a nuanced conversation to be sure. Butler understands the need for maintaining Black ownership, and her advocacy for inclusivity goes beyond mere talk. 

Her microfund, Bawse Ventures, offers financial backing and mentorship to empower diverse founders to build, grow, and scale. But the financial fruits of that labor are meant to pay off. 

Profit Rich and Cash Poor

Butler went on to dispel misconceptions about Black wealth. “As much as you might think Melissa Butler of the Lip Bar is wealthy, that is only true on paper. When you look at Black founders and see all of the headlines and stories [on their net worth and success], you should know that their actual physical wealth is tied up in their equity. So they don’t ever actually get to experience that wealth. They don’t get to pour that wealth into their community or use it to care for their families unless they get a liquidity event, which means selling the company,” she explained. 

It’s a perspective often omitted from these conversations, and one Butler challenged the audience to consider, “When people are arguing in the chat rooms and on the community pages [about Black-owned brands “selling out”], I want us to think about that.” 

Points were made. 

Consumer Dreams vs. Founder Realities

It is, perhaps, unreasonable to lay the weight of consumers’ expectations at any given owner’s feet or confine them to a continuously challenging startup phase. On the other hand, the passion, loyalty, and collective sense of ownership that is welcomed to propel brands mainstream, is equally valid when consumers feel betrayed. Customers are justified in keeping that same energy on the backend. 

It’s a complex dynamic to be sure. Yet, amid opposing perspectives, a distinct reality comes to light. A self-perpetuating cycle emerges when successful Black-owned businesses consistently opt for acquisition after reaching a certain level of success. A cycle that  obstructs the establishment of enduring Black-owned conglomerates and impedes the substantial recycling of Black wealth — and we’re not talking about the isolated affluence of a handful of billionaires, but the kind of prosperity that embeds into systems, influences politics, and effectively lobbies for institutional change. The type of communal power that empowers demands rather than requests for equity. 

It’s deep. Admittedly, too deep to project on the founders of lipsticks, lotions, and creams. Butler illuminates a valid and often overlooked perspective — something to ponder ahead of the next timeline-grabbing headline of a beloved Black-owned brand, supposedly “selling out.”


Business Conference Aims To Promote Black Business Owners

A new study says San Diego has fewer black-owned businesses than many other major cities. A local entrepreneur is trying to change that with an upcoming conference.

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Entrepreneurship started early for Roosevelt Williams III.

“Recycling Halloween candy at school, putting it in the freezer and selling it to classmates,” said Williams.

Williams went on to start his own business as a cobbler, repairing shoes and handbags. But it didn’t take long for a harsh reality to set in.

“I was by myself, I was solo,” said Williams. “A lot of times I didn’t know who to call, I lacked information and know-how.”

So Williams started a group called Young Black & N’ Business to give business owners the help and connections he wishes he had when he was younger.

“You’d be surprised how many businesses don’t even know what an LLC stands for,” said Williams. “Let alone how to register, how much it costs. Should they even become an LLC?”

Lendingtree released a study last month about which major cities have the most black businesses. San Diego ranked number 46, with just 1.5% of businesses here owned by African-Americans.

San Diego has a much smaller black population than many other cities on the list, but the area is still lagging behind the national average of 2.7%.

It’s all part of a problem Williams wants to fix with Biz Con 2024, a business conference he plans to hold in May.

“At Biz Con we provide solutions,” said Williams. “100 percent solutions and resources to help minority business and business in general exceed expectations, meet their metrics. Help them scale.”

Williams hopes Biz Con 2024 can create more lifelong entrepreneurs like him.

“If you’re a loan officer, let’s find a realtor. If you’re a realtor, let’s find a plumber,” said Williams. “Our motto is ‘let’s tie knots.’ Let’s make our rope stronger. Let’s do business with each other.”

Biz Con is scheduled for May 11 at the San Diego Convention Center. If you want to learn more, check out Biz Con’s website.

Copyright 2024 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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Meet The Millionaire Maker For Black Women In Corporate America

Women’s leadership expert and executive coach, Christy Rutherford has assisted her clients with getting over $14 million in salary raises since 2020, with seven Black women receiving seven-figure compensation packages.

Since 2020, companies have touted their commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion and spent approximately $7.5 billion on related efforts. However, despite the increase in efforts, the progress to increase inclusion and diversity has been slow or nonexistent.

Currently, organizations like Goldman Sachs and Bank of America are dialing back their DEI efforts, and while these programs are under attack in different industries, a South Carolina State alumna is unbothered by the battle because she has been breaking barriers for over twenty years.

Christy comments, “My superpower is helping people see a greater version of themselves, and this inherent gift contributed to executive-level success in my previous career. I mentored hundreds of people before I became an ‘executive coach.’ We (Black officers in the US Coast Guard) lagged behind our white male counterparts at the mid-levels of leadership, and the gap widened with every promotion. In 2007, I created a mentorship program to solve that problem. In the past five years, the organization has had the largest number of senior Black officers in history. I have a long history of creating leadership pipelines where women and minorities can flourish in their jobs.”

A Harvard Business School alumna, Rutherford completed the Program for Leadership Development and three negotiation courses to learn how to translate and apply her career guidance from the military to the corporate world.

Christy continues, “In the past ten years, I have talked to hundreds of women who feel overworked, underpaid, and underemployed. They want to be promoted but don’t ask. And when they ask, they usually say, ‘What are you going to give me? Or ‘What do you think is fair?’ Women put the onus on their leaders to tell them their value and continue to be disappointed year after year.”

What women are doing to be promoted makes them unpromotable,” Rutherford says. “Women exhaust themselves from working harder, getting multiple advanced degrees, volunteering for extra projects, and being available after hours and on the weekends. When leaders look for people to promote, they overlook the tired and task-laden woman and give the role to a less qualified person who can handle more work. ”

McKinsey’s Women in the Workplace study consistently reports that Black women lag behind their white counterparts at every level of leadership. Their 2023 report also showed the disparities in promotions started to widen for Black women at the manager level in comparison to Black men.

Christy shares that the women who are admittedly overworked, underpaid, and underemployed contribute to the talent gap that has persisted in the job market for at least ten years.

She assisted her global clients with doubling and tripling their salaries many times in less than six months. “The most significant change I get my clients to make that results in a salary increase and promotion is prioritizing their self-care. This may not be the popular opinion but holding high-achieving women accountable to taking care of themselves is no easy feat. I worked 16-hour days, created high-performing teams, and set national standards for my organization. While I had numerous degrees and countless awards, I never adopted a consistent self-care routine. When I finally earned my seat at the executive table, within 18 months, I mentally and physically collapsed and ended up resigning with 3.5 years left to retire with a full pension.”

“It was devastating,” Christy soberly shares, “and that’s why I’m so passionate about what I do: We all shouldn’t have to learn this lesson the hard way.”

Burnout, stress, and poor mental health have become normalized conversations. Professional articles cite what organizations should do to provide psychological safety for Black women; Rutherford contends that Black women have to take the reins of their careers and self-care and not wait for a policy to change their circumstances.

She believes that it’s possible for women to have it all – a healthy body, a great career, and balanced families and offers five suggestions for how women can restore their mental and physical health and set themselves up for promotion:

1. Meditate for five minutes three times a week
2. Workout three times a week for 30 minutes
3. Sleep for eight hours three times a week
4. Set a monetary target at least 30% higher than your current salary and look for jobs to match that.
5. Create a Personal Board of Advisors with a mentor, sponsor, and coach.

She offers, “A mentor is someone who has been where you want to go and will show you how to get there. A sponsor has power and will use it to open doors for you. A coach (non-company sponsored) will hold you accountable for taking care of yourself.”

She believes that Black women can close the pay gap themselves by owning their true value and implementing the five suggestions mentioned. It has worked for her clients time and time again.

Overall, Christy’s goal is to get 10,000 women $1 billion in salary raises by 2025. Find out more about her work and events here.