Cocoapreneur PGH Black Business Relief Fund | Grantee Q&A with Royalty by Design CorporationLeave a Comment
The mission of Cocoapreneur is to foster an environment of economic prosperity in order to ensure more sustainable neighborhoods for the historically African American communities and neighborhoods around Pittsburgh, PA. Through support to businesses via advertising, marketing and consulting, Cocoapreneur aims to normalize the idea of entrepreneurship and make becoming a business owner a more feasible and attainable goal for African Americans in the greater Pittsburgh area.
In response to COVID-19 and increased discussion around race-based disparities in America, Cocoapreneur PGH created the Cocoapreneur Collaborative as another pathway to fulfilling their mission. Aiming to address more social needs of the Black business community, the fund is meant to provide relief and aid to Black owned businesses and Black initiatives that aren’t able to get funding and support through other means. It was initially created to assist businesses that were vandalized after the George Floyd protests in Pittsburgh in May 2020, but has extended its reach to help others facing challenges because of COVID-19, as well. To date, the fund has provided over $50,000 to businesses in the Pittsburgh area!
As part of Cocoapreneur’s 2020 Healthy Neighborhood Awardee highlight week, we will be spotlighting some of the amazing businesses that received mini grants from Cocoapreneur for everything from new equipment, to salaries, to scholarships for youth programs!
Here’s a Q&A with Tonya Massie, CEO of Royalty by Design Corporation.
Tell us about yourself and about your business.
“I started this organization in March of 2019. We provide daily after-school & summer programming for our at risk youth in our community & surrounding areas. We do volunteer work with our local senior citizen homes (before COVID), volunteer our time at local food banks, have an outreach mission that serves the homeless throughout Allegheny county twice a month, and hold community clean-up events monthly. We also have monthly outings with our youth to various activities throughout the city, which include: the Carnegie Science Center, the zoo, the aviary, SportsWorks, the Heinz museum, movie outings, etc. We collaborate with other non-profits such as America’s Single Mother, which assists single mothers & connects them with various resources available to them. We also partner with Taste of Culture, which provides us with meals that help us feed the homeless, veterans & seniors through our soup kitchen ministry. In addition, we provide grants to our youth through essay contests with various topics. Our most recent awardees in October were chosen through an essay on “diversity & inclusion.” We gave $500. We also provide grants to start-up businesses in Allegheny county. Our most recent awardee in October was Kandiee Artistry of Monroeville for $500. Our business address is now 1256 Franklin Avenue in Wilkinsburg, which is a space that Cocoapreneur referred us to, and so we were able to secure a space within the Community Forge Building.”
What inspired you to start your business?
“I started this business because I saw a need to reach out & try to save our at-risk youth from the senseless violence that now plagues our communities. I was born & raised in the city of McKeesport and remember a time when we were able to walk the streets at night without having to worry about catching a stray bullet or being robbed of our clothing or shoes. We didn’t have to concern ourselves with assuring that we had the right colors on while walking through a certain neighborhood. I believe that every child deserves to have a chance to thrive, and I want to be a part of bringing our communities back to the times when it took a community to raise a child and parents were not afraid to stand up for what is right and just.”
How did COVID-19 affect your business?
“COVID-19 affected our business by halting our ability to continue our outreach missions with our seniors & homeless missions. We were unable to run our soup kitchen ministry, we were unable to have our monthly outings, we were unable to meet for our daily programs and unable to have our outreach events or fundraise.”
What does receiving Cocoapreneur’s mini grant mean to you?
“We are most grateful to Cocoapreneur for seeing our need and providing us with relief at a crucial time for our organization. We had applied to other organizations and were told no, but just as I was feeling discouraged and defeated, Cocoapreneur showed up and renewed my faith in our mission. We were able to meet a partial payroll for our employees for September and October and didn’t have to lay off workers. We were able to give grants and much more.”
A $5,000 grant from Cocoapreneur helped Royalty by Design to do so many things over these past few months, including paying for upfront costs of fundraising sales, providing fun and safe outings for youth, and paying monthly costs for website upkeep. You can learn more about them at royaltybydesign.org.