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Carl Davis Leads Silicon Valley Black Chamber of Commerce

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The Silicon Valley Black Chamber of Commerce (SVBCC) promotes diversity and opportunity for African American and minority businesses. Local businessman Ron McPherson, who served as president for ten years, founded the organization in 1989. The current leader, Carl Davis, Jr. was its first executive director in 1990.

As president of the SVBCC, Davis seeks to increase the number of successful minority businesses, especially African American businesses, in Silicon Valley while developing a pipeline of future entrepreneurs through better education.

“The Silicon Valley Black Chamber of Commerce is more than an organization for just businesses, it’s an integral part of the economic development fiber of our community,” said Davis. “When we speak of economic development we mean more than entrepreneurship, we mean job creation and money flowing within our communities for a sustainable environment.

Membership is open to all business owners, individuals, groups, seniors, youth, and associations that support the organization’s mission,” he said.

Through workshops, training and seminars, the SVBCC provides businesses with resources to start, run and sustain their businesses. Davis also says the SVBCC helps business owners learn about certifications in order to do business with the federal, regional and local governments as a contractor.

“We advocate for African Americans and minority-owned businesses, vendors and contractors to secure lucrative business opportunities and compete on the playing field,” added Davis.

Through their eMobile Solution, Davis says members have the ability to connect B2B and B2C clients and customers that enhance the promotion, advertisement and selling of products and services.

“We are committed to using both traditional and innovative strategies to empower our community and overcome historical business and financial obstacles, such as access to capital, capacity building and getting our share of contracts,” said Davis.

In 2001, the chamber created the Center for Entrepreneurial Development to serve the community through its educational programs and incubator project.

Through Next Gen, the chamber provides business and financial literacy skills to high school students. Some of Next Gen’s participants have visited President Barack Obama and won national honors in entrepreneurship programs like, National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship, NFTE, and Junior Achievement, JA.

Two expanded programs include, “It takes a Village with STEM” and “Intern to Perm.” The programs are designed to engage youth as early as first grade and on to STEM-related projects with professionals in STEM as college age students.

“Being connected through teaching, mentoring or just connecting these students is the way the dropout rate for youth of color will definitely decline.” said Davis.

The chamber has also worked to establish partnerships beyond finance and business by providing outreach, education and enrollment for Covered California.

“Economic health is important but physical health is essential and through our networks, we have the ability to reach the community,” said Davis.

SVBCC’s annual events include Blacks N Business, Black N Technology and the Silicon Valley Black Youth Hack-a-Thon.

For more information, visit www.blackchamber.com

Activism

California Cities are Pilot Testing Guaranteed Basic Income Programs

“The course of this pandemic has revealed the large number of County residents who are living on the brink of the financial crisis, with insufficient savings to weather a job loss, a medical emergency, or a major car repair. This guaranteed income program will help give residents the breathing room they need to better weather those crises,” said Supervisor Sheila Kuehl.

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These programs, including LA County’s Breathe program, are modeled after a universal basic income program that was tested in the city of Stockton. The Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration (SEED) provided $500 to 125 low-income residents for 24 months.
These programs, including LA County’s Breathe program, are modeled after a universal basic income program that was tested in the city of Stockton. The Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration (SEED) provided $500 to 125 low-income residents for 24 months.

Manny Otiko | California Black Media

Guaranteed basic income isn’t a new idea. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr talked about the idea of low-income people receiving regular checks from the government in the 1960s. It was brought up again during the 2020 presidential campaign when Democratic candidate Andrew Yang, a technology entrepreneur, made it a major part of his platform.

However, Yang was advocating for Universal Basic Income (UBI), which guarantees payments to everyone.

Guaranteed basic income only targets low-income people.

According to Yang, some kind of guaranteed basic income program is going to be necessary for the future when technology makes many jobs obsolete. A 2020 World Economic Forum study predicted that technologies such as artificial intelligence and robotics would eliminate 85 million jobs by 2025. However, guaranteed basic income programs are gaining steam across California as poverty alleviation. Several cities are carrying out pilot programs.

Los Angeles County is conducting a guaranteed basic income pilot program called Breathe. The program provides $1,000 to 1,000 LA County residents over a three-year period. The program will be evaluated by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Guaranteed Income Research.

Breathe is overseen by the county’s Poverty Alleviation Initiative. 180,000 residents applied to take part in the program. On a single day during the process, 95,000 people submitted applications, according to a county press release.

To qualify for Breathe funds, the applicants had to be at least 18 years old, have a single-person household income under $56,000 or $96,000 for a family of four, and have experienced negative impacts due to COVID-19.

One motivation behind the Breathe program was the COVID-19 pandemic, which laid bare the problems of poverty and income inequality.

“The course of this pandemic has revealed the large number of County residents who are living on the brink of the financial crisis, with insufficient savings to weather a job loss, a medical emergency, or a major car repair. This guaranteed income program will help give residents the breathing room they need to better weather those crises,” said Supervisor Sheila Kuehl.

Other guaranteed basic income programs are being pilot-tested in California.

Miracle Messages, an outreach program for the unhoused in San Francisco, started to pilot test a program called Miracle Money last year. Miracle Money provided $500 to homeless people. And the initial program seemed to be a success. According to Miracle Messages, about 50% of the people in the test group were able to find housing after they received the cash payments. Miracle Money was funded by a GoFundMe campaign.

Oakland Resilient Families is a Bay Area program that provides a $500 grant to families for 18 months. The program stresses it is different from universal basic income. “Guaranteed income is meant to provide an income floor but not meant to be a replacement for wages. Guaranteed income can also be targeted to those who need it most,” according to the organization’s website. Oakland Resilient Families is funded by donations.

Mountain View, another Bay Area city is setting up a new guaranteed basic income pilot program called Elevate MV. The pilot program promises to give, for two years, $500 a month to 166 low-income families with at least one child or who are currently pregnant. Elevate MV is operated through the Community Services Agency, a non-profit organization.

In San Diego County a guaranteed income pilot program was launched in March 2020. One hundred and fifty households with young children residing in one of the four priority ZIP codes in the county — Encanto, Paradise Hills, National City and San Ysidro — are receiving $500 a month for two years. The $2.9 million program is run by Jewish Family Service of San Diego with funding from Alliance Healthcare Foundation and from the state’s budget surplus.

These programs, including LA County’s Breathe program, are modeled after a universal basic income program that was tested in the city of Stockton. The Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration (SEED) provided $500 to 125 low-income residents for 24 months.

The research showed that the SEED program worked, according to a National Public Radio (NPR) article.

“Among the key findings outlined in a 25-page white paper are that the unconditional cash reduced the month-to-month income fluctuations that households face, increased recipients’ full-time employment by 12 percentage points, and decreased their measurable feelings of anxiety and depression, compared with their control-group counterparts,” said NPR.

Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs launched the SEED program in 2019. Following the promising results of the pilot program, in 2020 Tubbs launched Mayors for Guaranteed Income, a coalition of 60 mayors who are advocating for a guaranteed income program to ensure that all Americans have an income floor.

Tubbs lost his bid for re-election in 2020 and is now an adviser to Gov. Gavin Newsom who is a proponent of guaranteed income.

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Activism

Gov. Newsom Signs Legislation Funding Nation’s First Black Women’s Think Tank

“There are approximately 1.1 million Black females in California. However, there are 75% of Black households headed by single Black mothers and 80% of Black households have Black women breadwinners. There are economic, educational, health, and electoral barriers confronting Black women every day. In California, 23% of Black women live in poverty, according to the Women’s Well-Being Index from the California Budget and Policy Center,” The California Black Women’s Collective (CBWC) stated.

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Based on current information concerning Black women and girls in the state, CBWC’s Think Tank collective specifically aims to provide actionable policy solutions, remove persistent barriers that this group of women faces on a daily basis, and achieve racial and gender equity.
Based on current information concerning Black women and girls in the state, CBWC’s Think Tank collective specifically aims to provide actionable policy solutions, remove persistent barriers that this group of women faces on a daily basis, and achieve racial and gender equity.

Antonio‌ ‌Ray‌ ‌Harvey‌ ‌|‌ ‌California‌ ‌Black‌ ‌Media‌

Last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a budget trailer bill approving $5 million in funding to the California State University at Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) to house the California Black Women’s Think Tank.

The California Black Women’s Collective (CBWC) Empowerment Institute will be a founding partner in the development of the policy research institution.

The legislation, Assembly Bill (AB) 179, authored by Assemblymember Phillip Ting (D-San Francisco), paves the way for establishing a policy institute that will focus on improving structures and practices that impact the lives of Black women and girls across the state.

“The California Black Women’s Collective has diligently worked hard over the last year to make the California Black Women’s Think Tank, the first of its kind in the nation, happen.” Kellie Todd Griffin, speaking for CBWC, told California Black Media.

CBWC in partnership with Black Women Organized for Political Action (BWOPA), is a coalition of more than 1,500 Black Women leaders throughout California.

The coalition utilizes Black women’s expertise and collaboration skills in political, community, and social justice activism to amplify their voices, knowledge, and issues throughout the state.

On June 20, Newsom signed a $308 billion state budget that helps address rising costs for Californians, tackles the state’s most pressing needs, builds reserves, and invests in the state’s future.

(AB) 179, the Budget Act of 2022, implements funding for key priorities established by the California Black Legislative Caucus (CLBC) for this legislative session, including CBWC’s Think Tank.

“We are thankful to the California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC) that included it as a priority-budget ask and CSUDH for partnering with us on it,” Todd Griffin said.

The CBWC’s goal for the Think Tank is for it to be “relevant and accessible” in providing an “independent, academic, research entity that provides a “rigorous analysis approach to policy,” CBWC explained in a written overview.

The state and CLBC are in support of addressing the need to expand work that drives systematic change, brought forth by CBWC. The Think Tank is an effort to serve as a research institution and resource for lawmakers, elected officials, business leaders, and advocating organizations willing to impact sustainable and scalable change.

“There are approximately 1.1 million Black females in California. However, there are 75% of Black households headed by single Black mothers and 80% of Black households have Black women breadwinners. There are economic, educational, health, and electoral barriers confronting Black women every day. In California, 23% of Black women live in poverty, according to the Women’s Well-Being Index from the California Budget and Policy Center,” CBWC stated.

According to the Status of Black Women report from the Women’s Policy Research (WPR) and information provided by CBWC, the median income for Black women in California is $43,000 a year, compared to $52,000 for white women and $69,000 for white men. The report by WPR also shared that the average cost of childcare for an infant makes up 28% of a Black woman’s average income in the state.

CBWC’s Think Tank intends to approach its work in a data-driven, strategic, and collaborative manner. Based on current information concerning Black women and girls in the state, the collective specifically aims to provide actionable policy solutions, remove persistent barriers that this group of women faces on a daily basis, and achieve racial and gender equity.

The CBWC Empowerment Institute falls in line with these initiatives to help Black women, Todd Griffin asserts.

“The magnitude of this funding allocation will be transformative as we continue the work to improve the quality of life of Black women and girls throughout California,” Todd Griffin said.

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Activism

Black Farmers Concerned Inflation Reduction Act Will Roll Back Debt Relief Promised Last Year

“What they replaced (the American Rescue Plan Act 2021) with is Section 22006 that now states that any farmer can apply to see if they are economically distressed, get their loans written down, or have them restructured,” said John Wesley Boyd, Jr., National Black Farmers Association’s founder and president. “Now, can you tell me that’s not a big difference? You took $4 billion in debt relief at 120%, put it in a fund of $3 billion, taking $1 billion away, and you opened it up to every farmer.”

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A farmer observes the care and feeding of his livestock. Photo courtesy of CBM.
A farmer observes the care and feeding of his livestock. Photo courtesy of CBM.

By Antonio Ray Harvey, California Black Media

The National Black Farmers Association is worried that the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 will roll back debt relief provided Black, indigenous, and other farmers of color in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

When President Joe Biden signed the law, approximately 15,000 farmers of color across the country — including over 400 in California — were affected, according to the National Black Farmers Association (NBFA).

Of the 70,000 farms in California, less than 1% are Black-owned or managed, while more than 90% are white-owned or managed. In 2012, California had 722 Black farmers according to an agriculture census report released that year. By 2017, the number had decreased to 429. Nationally, 45,508 Black farmers (1.3% of all farmers) were counted in the 2017 agriculture census, making up 0.5% of the country’s farmlands.

The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan which included $4 billion to help Black and other “socially disadvantaged” farmers will be replaced with a plan that makes relief funds available to all United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) farmers suffering hardships.

“I’m very, very disappointed in this legislative action,” said John Wesley Boyd, Jr., NBFA’s founder and president, in an August 9 statement. “I’m prepared to fight for debt relief for Black, Native American, and other farmers of color all the way to the Supreme Court. I’m not going to stop fighting this.”

The NBFA is a non-profit organization representing African American farmers and their families. It serves tens of thousands of members nationwide. NBFA’s education and advocacy efforts are focused on civil rights, land retention, access to public and private loans, education and agricultural training, and rural economic development for Black and other small farmers.

The American Rescue Plan debt relief program was expected to pay off USDA loans held by 15,000 Black, Native American, Alaskan Native, Asian American, Pacific Islander, and Hispanic and Latino farmers, according to Kara Brewer-Boyd, NBFA’s Program and Event Coordinator, in a telephone interview with California Black Media on August 12.

“Socially disadvantaged Black, Native Americans, and people of color were automatically approved for 120% debt relief. They were to be paid in full,” said Brewer-Boyd. “Now they won’t get that money at all. It’s horrible. Those farmers were already identified and sent letters that their debt had been paid. These farmers are in a bad situation. Congress put them in a worse situation by telling them ‘You’re gonna get it.’ Now they are telling them ‘You’re not going to get it.’”

Objections raised by non-Black farmers to the debt relief the federal government pledged to Black farmers has put the program in limbo.

Those opponents have filed a dozen lawsuits against the American Rescue Plan Act, including one class action case. The courts are currently hearing the cases.

Under the Inflation Reduction Act, the USDA is authorized to provide $3.1 billion to distressed borrowers. Another fund has been established to supply farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners who faced discrimination before 2021 with a package of $2.2 billion.

“What they replaced (the American Rescue Plan Act 2021) with is Section 22006 that now states that any farmer can apply to see if they are economically distressed, get their loans written down, or have them restructured,” Brewer-Boyd said. “Now, can you tell me that’s not a big difference? You took $4 billion in debt relief at 120%, put it in a fund of $3 billion, taking $1 billion away, and you opened it up to every farmer.”

Brewer-Boyd said Black farmers from California were approved under the original debt relief program.

“Discrimination at USDA against Black farmers was rampant and severe. Section 1005 Loan Repayment program was a necessary step towards fixing those harms. To acknowledge and correct racism is not unconstitutional or racist,” James Wesley Boyd, Jr., stated.

Last year, Lawrence Lucus, who founded the USDA Coalition of Minority Employees, told the California Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans that racism is prevalent in agriculture, and it is the primary reason why there are just a little over 400 Black farmers in California.

“I’m sorry to say that it doesn’t look like it’s going to get any better under the times we are faced with,” Lucus said. “You have white farmers, who own most of the land and get all the benefits from the land, they are the ones now bringing court cases around the country. They are saying that it’s discriminatory to have debt-relief for Black farmers.”

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