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Kaiser Supports Small Businesses Recovering from COVID-19 Pandemic

Inner City Capital Connections provides free training, coaching and connection to capital for businesses looking to rebuild and rehire



Many small business owners in underserved communities are still struggling from the economic fallout due to the COVID-19 pandemic and need additional support to rebuild and recover.

    Kaiser Permanente Northern California is partnering with the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) on a virtual program that offers small businesses a tuition-free, 40hour mini-MBA program that combines executive education, webinars, coaching and connection to capital.

    The Inner City Capital Connections program (ICCC) helps small businesses in underserved communities build the capacity they need to grow and create new jobs. Kaiser Permanente has partnered with ICIC since 2016 providing support to more than 1,700 businesses and creating more than 2,000 jobs. Of the 1,786 businesses that have participated in the program, 66% wereminority-owned and 58% were owned by women.

    Businesses selected to participate will complete a training and coaching program. Kaiser Permanente Northern California is sponsoring the ICCC program to support small businesses, spur job growth and improve the health of the communities we serve.

    A 2020 Health Crisis survey conducted by ICIC found 71% of business owners who responded experienced revenue loss, 33% laid off employees and 90% received some type of government financial assistance due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
    “Kaiser Permanente recognizes how difficult the COVID-19 pandemic has been for many of the small businesses in our communities that struggled over the past year,” said Carrie OwenPlietz, FACHE, president of Kaiser Permanente’s Northern California region. “Economic opportunity is a key driver of health. Our communities must be economically vibrant to improve individuals health outcomes and reduce health disparities for all residents, including our members.”

    Nominations are open for the first cohort of the virtual program, which will be held in July. The program is open to businesses throughout Northern California who meet program qualifications and are selected following an application process. The deadline to apply or nominate a small business is May 28, 2021.

    The ICCC program includes an interactive virtual, two-day seminar series that focuses on business recovery strategies and information on capital and technical assistance resources.

    The program also includes webinars, one-on-one coaching with distinguished business leaders,and culminates with a conference for program graduates. Participants leave the program with the tools they need to help their businesses survive, recover and grow.

    In 2020, ICCC served 1,220 businesses in 17 markets with 74% identifying as minority-owned business owners and 61% as women-owned businesses.

    “I would not be where I am today from a strategy and a revenue perspective if it weren’t for the fact that I was exposed to these seminars and webinars,” said Julio Ortiz, business partner for Gaspachos in Sacramento, which participated in the ICCC program in 2019. “Kaiser and ICCC are doing amazing work out in the community.”

    About Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC)

    ICIC is a national, nonprofit research and advisory organization founded in 1994. ICIC’s mission is to drive economic prosperity in America’s inner cities through private sector investment to create jobs, income and wealth for residents.

Bay Area

Spoken Word Offers Aid to Black Men Facing Hardships

Their mission statement highlights that through sharing their lived experiences, members of Black Men Speaks and Men of Color “promote self and communal wellness, recovery, and freedom”.



Image provided by Black Men Speak website

According to a National Health Survey on Drug Use and Health conducted in 2019 for the African American community, 6.5 million African Americans had a mental illness and/or substance abuse disorder.

These numbers don’t compare to the more in depth statistics on those who receive treatment and who do not and how, specifically, Black men are affected. For a lot of Black men and men of color, access to resources that may aid in mental health or substance abuse treatment are slim because of the influence within their own communities and outside of it to turn their backs on things that are perceived as anything less than the strength they should possess as a man, especially a Black man.

Black Men Speak, INC.(BMS), an international speakers bureau, was founded in 2009 through the Alameda Pool of Consumer Champions with this very notion in mind, that the best way to connect to other Black men who were struggling with mental health and substance abuse was through storytelling of their own struggles.

Three years following Black Men Speaks’ foundation, Men of Color(MOC) speaker’s bureau was established, which allowed them to expand their reach in the community.

Their mission statement highlights that through sharing their lived experiences, members of Black Men Speaks and Men of Color “promote self and communal wellness, recovery, and freedom”.

The stories that are told are set in the present day and feature unique challenges of loss, trauma, social and family issues and community violence and the importance of faith on the road to overall wellness & recovery.

Besides aiding their fellow men through connection in storytelling, BMS offers resources that help with employment, housing, homeless prevention, mentoring and peer support and training for presentation and public speaking.

Alongside these resources and mentoring, they make sure to do their part in advocating and assertively addressing other issues within their communities that have a direct impact on the African American community.

Black Men Speak is located in Oakland at 303 Hegenberger Road in Suite 210. Hours are Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call 510-969-5086 or email


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Jasmine Market Encourage Unity in Marin City

During the event, Jong Lee, Caitilin Damacion, and Tammy Lai discussed how to raise the awareness of the various ethnic groups to each other in Marin City. A mobile clinic provided free COVID-19 vaccines.



Top: The Jasmine Market at the St. Andrew Presbyterian Church. Bottom: Jong Lee, Caitilin Damacion, Tammy Lai (Photos by Godfrey Lee)

The First Marin City’s Jasmine Market was an inclusive, outdoor market celebrating Asian joy and intercultural solidarity in honor of Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month in May.

It was hosted by the Marin City Community Development Corporation (MCCDC) and was held at the St. Andrew Presbyterian Church in Marin City on May 28, 2021.

A Marin City Librarian read an AAPI story. Sammy Brionnes gave a musical performance. Natalie Nong performed a Spoken Word poem.

During the event, Jong Lee, Caitilin Damacion, and Tammy Lai discussed how to raise the awareness of the various ethnic groups to each other in Marin City. A mobile clinic provided free COVID-19 vaccines.

Lee is the director of Women’s Rights and Peace Bay Area, and a board member for the Asian American Alliance of Marin. She is involved in advocating for ethnic studies in the Marin County School District and is working to spread awareness of the “comfort women” from Korea and other Asian nations. These women were forced to serve as sexual slaves for Japanese soldiers during WWII.

Tammy Lai is the CEO at Foundation for Justice and Peace (

Damacion, who lives in the East Bay, is the Micro-Enterprise Program Manager at the MCCDC.

During the discussion, Lee says that God created people in his image. We need to treat people in the image of God.

Lee really wants to see Asians, especially women, integrate with the other minorities, such as Koreans, who can become culturally isolated, and spoke to the need to bridge and understand other ethnic groups. “We need to step forward to meet each other halfway, and to reach out to understand each other,” Lee said.

Lai says that we have this opportunity, as we question ourselves in this cultural landscape, to build bridges. Communities become healthier when its members take one step toward one another to understand, listen and to build something better together.

Damacion, who is Filipino and mixed-raced, feels very strongly about building connections that are positive and beneficial to a community. Through her work with the MCCDC, she will work to advance diversity in Marin City, and will shed a light on the beauty she sees in Marin City and how people in the community took care of each other for generations.

Lai’s family immigrated from China to America after the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed in 1882. Her family history has brought her a deeper awareness of her identity. It becomes important to carry these conversations forward and share them with others.

“We all have our stories and should be open to tell them. There is nothing new under human history so we should learn to share them. You become much closer to each other,” says Lee.

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Bay Area

Vice Mayor: Business Group Wants to Buy Coliseum, Attract WNBA Team

The group will provide additional details of its effort at a news conference at 11:00 a.m. Friday at a site to be determined.



Oakland Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan.

Oakland Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan said a local business group has made serious inroads to buy the city’s 50% stake in the Oakland Coliseum complex and to bring a WNBA team to the city.
Kaplan’s office shared a news release Monday about the effort by the African American Sports and Entertainment Group.

Kaplan said the group is in negotiations with the Oakland-Alameda Joint Powers Authority, has submitted a formal proposal to WNBA officials, and has submitted a term sheet to the city, which the City Council’s rules committee recently voted to advance to the full council for a vote.

The group will provide additional details of its effort at a news conference at 11:00 a.m. Friday at a site to be determined.

“I am pleased that there is such great interest in doing an important development at the Oakland Coliseum that will provide jobs, revenue and community positivity,” Kaplan said. “My goal is to help this process move forward before the summer recess.”

Kaplan said the group has the backing of more than 30 community groups of faith-based institutions, labor organizations, civic leaders, and job development organizations. She did not name the groups

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