CLLCTIVLY, in partnership with The WELL, awarded Dominiece Clifton, founder of Mobile Movement Studio, the winner of its “We Got Your Back” Campaign. As a result, Clifton will receive a $2000 monthly no-strings-attached grant to cover her living expenses or to do whatever brings her joy for one year.
With the initiative, Baltimore-based social change organization CLLCTIVLY wanted to support Black women founders that are historically underfunded. Nationally, Black and Latinx women founders received .64% of all venture capital investment in 2020, per the latest ProjectDiane report — and that was a 4x increase from 2018. This divestment is why, despite being more likely to start a business than any other group, according to the Harvard Business Review, only 3% of Black women are running mature business, which are companies that are more than five years old. CLLCTIVLY partnered with The WELL, short for The Women Entrepreneur Leadership Lab, to given Black women their due as the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs, and increase funding going towards not just their businesses, but towards these entrepreneurs as people.
“Often, foundations and investors invest in the program, the business or the project and not the person,” said Jamye Wooten, founder of CLLCTIVLY. “We wanted to flip that on its head and say, how about investing first in the person and making sure they are whole.”
The grant comes at a pivotal time for Clifton, as she’s just beginning her journey as an entrepreneur. She took a leap of faith two years ago. Coming off of maternity leave, she decided to leave her job without any savings and make the dream of the Mobile Movement Studio a reality. The studio aims to increase access to wellness education and movement, while also growing the number of instructors of color in the wellness industry.
“Typically, wellness has been seen as this thing that’s for a certain type of person with a certain type of income and that leaves a lot of people out of the equation,” said Clifton. According to estimates by job site Zippia, 77% of all fitness instructors in the U.S. are white, with Hispanic or Latinx making up 10%, Black instructors at 6% and Asian at 4%.
The reality is that entrepreneurship, especially in the early stages, is filled with financial hurdles. Both Clifton and her husband are full-time entrepreneurs with two kids. Making ends meet can be a challenge because bills, daycare and a mortgage don’t stop when your following your dreams.
“Getting a grant that doesn’t tell you how the money has to be used gives me the freedom to say, if I need to use a portion of this to cover childcare this week, I can do that. And I can also take a portion of this and put it into equipment,” said Clifton. “Funding is challenging. It’s the number one thing, access to capital, that entrepreneurs have a hard time with, especially entrepreneurs of color. For two organizations to really recognize this need…I really hope it sets the tone nationally for what’s possible in ways that organizations can better support entrepreneurs.”
Check out the award announcement:
And here’s the winning submission and pitch:
Donte Kirby is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation. -30-