Black Future Co-Op Fund, Bank of America and CBDC Launch New Partnership

Two business professionals reviewing a Foster student strategic plan

Tanya Jimale (right) and Melenese Richardson (left) of Jimale Technical Services review a strategic plan prepared with a UW Foster student consulting team.

On June 15, 2021, Foster’s Consulting and Business Development Center formalized one of the most important partnerships in our 26-year history. Through the visionary leadership of the Black Future Co-op Fund and the strategic vision of Bank of America, we announced a new partnership to build generational sustainability of Black-led businesses and nonprofits across Washington state.

At our inception, our focus was explicitly on businesses in Seattle’s Central District neighborhood which for generations has been the center of Seattle’s Black community. Over the years, we’ve supported the entrepreneurial strength of Black businesses owners who have grown businesses that are recognized throughout the northwest and across the country.

Prior to creating this partnership, the Fund interviewed Black business owners who shared that they have been hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic and resulting economic recession. Bank of America’s national research findings from a survey of 300 Black business owners found that, in response to the impacts from the pandemic, 48 percent of Black entrepreneurs reported retooling their operations – double that of the national average. The finding that’s most descriptive of the character of Black business owners, however, is their dedication to success: 82 percent of Black business owners in the Bank of America survey reported that they have worked harder to achieve success than their non-Black counterparts.

In the Fall of 2020, the architects of the Black Future Co-op Fund, Andrea Caupain Sanderson, Angela Jones, J.D., Michelle Merriweather, and Sen. T’Wina Nobles, along with Bank of America market executive for Seattle, Jeremey Williams, invited us to join them to support Black-led businesses and organizations across Washington by providing tailored technical assistance, leadership development training, financial management guidance, and help accessing funding.

This partnership will enable us to work with more companies like Jimale Technical Services. We first began working with Tanya Jimale, the incredible entrepreneur who launched JTS, in 2000 when the company had just two or three employees. Today, she’s grown her company to more than 50 employees and JTS is engaged in the construction of this region’s most critical infrastructure.

We are incredibly grateful for the investment of $500,000 in our work so we can greatly expand the number of Black-owned businesses and nonprofits that we work with including those outside of the Central Puget Sound for the first time. But the greatest value is the partnership with the Fund and Bank of America.