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Grassroots Effort to Help Philadelphia Black-Owned Businesses Goes National


2020 has been the year of a lot of things. Many of those things were terrible and sad and troubling. But humans are amazing. And so often out of the terrible comes beauty. And today we would like to share some of the beauty that has come out of this often terrible feeling year.


Rebuild the Block was founded in 2020 by Alexis Akarolo, the Cheif Executive Officier, and Zelnnetta Clark, the Cheif Operating Officer. The mission “is to rebuild the block through the organic growth of resources by redistributing wealth and knowledge to the black community.”


Rebuild the Block is a grassroots effort started in Philadelphia as a response to the vandalism and looting that affected small businesses in May and June. It started as a GoFundMe page and called her college roommate and asked her to join the effort. In less than 1 week, they had raised $100K. Since it has turned into a national effort.


They have now raised over $200K, and are aiming for $1 million. They have been able to support 10 Black-owned businesses that have been hurt by COVID-19 and were not eligible for government COVID-19 relief or those that were damaged in the looting and vandalism from May and June.


To be eligible for a Rebuild the Block grant, a business must

-Must be a small black-owned business

-Business impacted by COVID-19 and/or looting destruction

-The business has been launched no later than January 1st, 2020

-Able to provide documentation (such as a tax ID number) to demonstrate the legitimacy of the business and financial losses.


When talking to Billy Penn, Clark said “One thing about Rebuild the Block is we pride ourselves on having resources. Being a one-stop-shop. If we don’t have programs for you, we’ll know of someone who does.”


This month, Rebuild the Block is offering help to startups with a campaign called Startup September. Eligible businesses are

-Must be a black-owned business

-Must have been affected by COVID-19

-Registered business on/after April 15th, 2019 and no later than April 15th, 2020

-Submit appropriate documents to demonstrate the legitimacy of business and financial losses


Deadlines for the grants are the third Friday of each month. Business owners can expect the entire process to take about one month. After approximately one week, the applicant will get a letter informing them if they have been selected to move to the verification process. That process will take another one to three weeks. Freelancers with the appropriate tax documentation are eligible.


In August, Rebuild the Block ran a raffle to raise funds. Raffle tickets came in 4 different prices and the prizes were meant to help people with their business needs such as logo design, LLC and web design help and even a MacBook!


Akarolo is an MBA student at Penn State Abington and works as creative director for a local clothing brand, and Clark is currently preparing for med school in California.


If this organization moves and you want to be part of this effort, they are in need of volunteers.


The team is no longer just Akarolo and Clark. Currently, Rebuild the Block team has seven other people fighting to rebuild Philadelphia’s small Black-owned businesses.


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