Amplify People of Color (POC) Cape Cod, a new nonprofit dedicated to improving racial equity in our region, has received two awards from the state American Rescue Plan Act allocations, which will be use to launch a program of small grants to help people of color-owned businesses expand and stabilize and a program of school stipends for students of color in the region.
Applications are available online at www.amplifypoccapecod.com. A committee composed of POC community members will review the applications and applicants will be chosen based on need but with the goal of increasing access to communities of color. The deadline to apply for both programs is April 20.
Amplify POC’s goal is to use these funds to seed and launch their Equity Fund which will initially distribute up to 10 student stipends of up to $500 each and 10 grants of up to $5,000 each to POC-owned businesses through this program by the end of 2023. The student stipend portion of the program will be called the John Reed Student Assistance program in honor of Reed’s tireless advocacy and support of local youth. This grant program is envisioned as a pilot program which will grow in future years after demonstrating the success of investments in addressing the racial wealth gap and with the help of increased fundraising efforts to continue to replenish the fund.
Like elsewhere in the country, people of color on Cape Cod are disadvantaged due to a significant racial wealth gap (disparities in assets across race and ethnicity). Federal surveys published before the pandemic examined consumer assets, savings, investments, retirement, pensions and home ownership. The results revealed large disparities among racial and ethnic groups. They found White families had eight times the wealth of Black families and five times the wealth of Hispanic families. For example, compare the median wealth of White families at $188,200 to that of Black families at $24,100 and Hispanic families at $36,100.
Amplify People of Color Cape Cod was founded in 2020 by Tara Vargas Wallace, a longtime social and racial justice activist. In the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, residents of the region approached Wallace asking for ways that they could support better racial equity on Cape Cod. Wallace responded by creating the first local online directory to help residents find people of color-owned businesses. Requests for additional services grew, and Wallace knew there was an opportunity to do more with the state ARPA funding.
State Rep. Kip Diggs was instrumental in securing about half the funding for the grants and scholarships through a House ARPA allocation.
“The work Amplify POC does in supporting entrepreneurship and businesses of color is what “build back better” is all about,” said Diggs. “ARPA’s funds were for regenerating economic activity following the global COVID-19 pandemic and Amplify POC Cape Cod was an excellent candidate for doing just that. I look forward to seeing how this allocation of funds to Amplify POC boosts our economy and the many small businesses here on Cape Cod.”
State Sen. Julian Cyr was also able to secure additional ARPA funding for the racial equity programs through a Senate allocation.
“Amplify POC has served Cape Cod’s communities of color considerably since its foundation in 2021 by driving funding, support, and awareness to scores of marvelous, local, People of Color-owned businesses and by providing vitalizing resources to Cape Codders,” said Senator Julian Cyr (D- Truro). “The organization’s continuation of this purposeful work through grant programs that will assist People of Color-owned businesses and students does not only ensure that the Cape’s communities of color benefit from COVID recovery dollars but will also help us build a more equitable Cape Cod going forward.”