KeyBank Donates $300,000 To Support Black Entrepreneurs Developing Small Businesses

Originally published at KeyBank ranked No. 18 on The Fair360, formerly DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2022.


Africatown Community Land Trust (ACLT) has announced a $300,000 donation from KeyBank to expand its small business development program that helps entrepreneurs incubate and grow their companies.

Currently, ACLT is revitalizing one of Seattle’s historic landmarks, FireStation 6, by converting it into the William Grose Center for Cultural Innovation (WGC), a hub for entrepreneurship and small business development in Seattle’s historic Black community. WGC will be the nexus of an innovation ecosystem in Seattle’s Central District, intended to engage, empower and uplift the community by providing the necessary resources to break into new and emerging industries.

The need is great, considering that a survey of 500 entrepreneurs by ACLT revealed that 85% would like assistance building, growing and scaling their business. For example, only 33% of vendors reported having a marketing plan and only 17% reported access to legal representation or assistance.

To help address these issues, ACLT is partnering with Black Dot to create space for entrepreneurs and business owners to obtain the knowledge, skills and relationships necessary to launch and sustain their ventures by offering training to a cohort of small businesses annually. KeyBank’s grant will allow the groups to expand their services and provide additional resources, services and specialized technical assistance.

“Our mission is to help our communities thrive, and nowhere is that more important than in underserved communities that often lack access to business expertise and funding,” says Matt Hill, President and Commercial Banking Sales Leader – Seattle Cascades. “We are delighted to partner with Africatown to help these industrious small-scale entrepreneurs grow their businesses and share their talents.”

K. Wyking Garrett, President and CEO of Africatown Community Land Trust, adds, “ACLT is working to not only create quality affordable spaces for Seattle residents to live but to also promote strong and viable economic opportunities for local entrepreneurs and job seekers. Our partnership with KeyBank to expand our small business development programs will help to build generational wealth, close the racial wealth divide and support a future of thriving for the Black community in the Central District and Seattle.”

The KeyBank Foundation has long engaged in philanthropic endeavors that support economic access and equity for underserved communities and populations.

Earlier this year, ACLT and Community Roots Housing (CRH) broke ground at 24th and East Spring Street in Seattle’s historic Central District. KeyBank Community Development Lending and Investment provided $37.4 million of construction financing and $14.2 million of permanent financing, and Key Community Development Corporation provided $25.7 million of low-income housing tax credit equity to the project.

This summer, ACLT is hosting a conversation series titled New Models for Creating Thriving Black Communities and Inclusive Cities, where they will discuss how they’re using the partnership with KeyBank and others to create a Black economic ecosystem in the Central  District. Billed as a “4 part digital conversation,” the series engages thought leaders from across the county in discussion of topics like the history of the land trust movement and its origins in the Black freedom struggle, using affordable housing to preserve the identity of historically Black communities, and the importance of integrating arts and culture in community development work.

The series is both a learning opportunity and part of the #thrivingblackcommunities fundraising campaign to support ACLT’s work. Find out more here. In addition to financial support, ACLT is always looking for strategic partnerships and volunteers to support their efforts. Contact them to learn more.