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The Rockefeller Foundation Supports Main Street Alliance as Part of $10 Million Commitment to Promoting Inclusive Growth in U.S.

Initiative to help eliminate barriers to access capital and credit for small business owners from marginalized communities in Newark, N.J. and Norfolk, Va.

NEW YORK | July 22, 2020 – Today, The Rockefeller Foundation and the Main Street Alliance (MSA) announced a new effort to support small business owners from marginalized communities in Newark, New Jersey, and Norfolk, Virginia, by helping eliminate barriers to access capital and credit. This collaboration is the first to stem from The Rockefeller Foundation Opportunity Collective (ROC), a new initiative announced last month which aims to catalyze public and private sector investment and promote more inclusive growth in 10 cities across the U.S., both in the post-pandemic recovery and over the long term.

Through this effort, the Foundation is providing MSA with $350,000 grant to work directly with small business owners and address the systemic problems in small business lending within communities of color in Newark and Norfolk. Through a two-year Entrepreneurship & Mobility Platform (EMP) pilot, MSA will identify local policies that impact small business development among Black and Latinx owners and raise awareness about the impact of expanding access to capital, asset building, technical assistance, and network building. MSA will then leverage its networks and leadership skills to inform the public and policymakers about access to capital at the state and federal levels.

“Black and Latinx small business owners face deep structural barriers to accessing capital and credit, including getting blocked from federal government relief and denied loans from banks. Through The Rockefeller Foundation Opportunity Collective, we’re working to tackle these structural and systemic barriers by supporting organizations like the Main Street Alliance,” said Otis Rolley III, Senior Vice President of the U.S. Equity and Economic Opportunity Initiative at The Rockefeller Foundation. “MSA has empowered small business leaders across the country to create more opportunities for entrepreneurship and wealth building, and we’re proud to support their important work in Newark and Norfolk through this initiative.”

As a network of more than 30,000 small business owners across the country, MSA has developed more than 1,500 small business leaders and mobilized over 5,000 small businesses to participate in policy development on local, state, and federal issues important to business owners and their employees.

“Main Street Alliance is grateful for The Rockefeller Foundation’s investment in our EMP pilot project. A long history of racial profiling and redlining in the banking industry has created severe disparities for small businesses owned by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) when it comes to accessing the credit and capital required to start or expand a business,” said Amanda Ballantyne, Executive Director of Main Street Alliance. “This project will allow MSA to begin to dismantle the systemic problems in small business lending and drive solutions that level the playing field for BIPOC entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses.”

An estimated 26.5 million U.S. adults are not in the formal credit economy. Federal data show that 15% of Black and Hispanic Americans are credit invisible, compared to just 8% of White and Asian Americans. Across the board, Black and Hispanic businesses receive only 2.5% and 5.8% of funding through the Small Business Administration.

In order to bridge this capital and credit gap for Black and Latinx small business owners and entrepreneurs, the ROC initiative will expand opportunities to receive technical assistance, build capacity, organize around priorities to influence positive change, and invest in institutions that provide private capital to Black and Latinx businesses.

In addition to Newark, N.J. and Norfolk, Va., The Rockefeller Foundation Opportunity Collective includes Atlanta, Ga.; Boston, Mass.; Chicago, Ill.; El Paso, Tex.; Miami Dade County, Fla.; Houston, Tex.; Louisville, Ky.; and Oakland, Calif. The initial $10 million behind the ROC is part of the Foundation’s comprehensive $65 million commitment announced in February to help more than 10 million low-wage workers and their families across the United States meet their basic needs and pursue a more prosperous future.

About The Rockefeller Foundation

The Rockefeller Foundation advances new frontiers of science, data, and innovation to solve global challenges related to health, food, power, and economic mobility. As a science-driven philanthropy focused on building collaborative relationships with partners and grantees, The Rockefeller Foundation seeks to inspire and foster large-scale human impact that promotes the well-being of humanity throughout the world by identifying and accelerating breakthrough solutions, ideas, and conversations. For more information, sign up for our newsletter at and follow us on Twitter @RockefellerFdn.

Media Contact
The Rockefeller Foundation
Ashley E. Chang
+1 (212) 852-8451

About Main Street Alliance
Main Street Alliance is a national network of small business coalitions working to build a new voice for small businesses on important public policy issues. Alliance small business owners share a vision of public policies that work for business owners, our employees, and the communities we serve. For more information, please visit and follow @mainstreetweets on Twitter.

MSA is actively recruiting small business owners and entrepreneurs to take part in this program and MSA’s broad advocacy efforts. Small business owners or entrepreneurs who are interested in getting involved should reach out to National Organizer Dominic Procopio at