The Penny Foundation is supporting black-owned businesses in Birmingham. Check out how.

Freedom Line Bus Tours benefits from the corporate giving program by the Penny Foundation
Freedom Line Tours is one businesses that benefits from The Penny Foundation. The women-owned company offers tours and activities throughout the greater Birmingham-metro area, as well as Montgomery and Selma. Photo via Freedom Line Tours’ Facebook.

Chances are you know about Penny Savings Bank. It’s the first black-owned and black-operated financial institution in Alabama. The bank backed and supported black-owned businesses from 1890 until it’s closing in 1915. Fast forward, in 2018 The Penny Foundation was born out of that same thread. See how it’s growing Birmingham businesses today.

Who and what is The Penny Foundation?

In a nutshell, The Penny Foundation serves as a philanthropic vehicle for people looking to invest their resources in the community. It specifically focuses on elevating the black community. So, it’s kind of like a nonprofit that builds other nonprofits in order to stir change on a much larger scale.

The Penny Foundation’s goal is to eliminate economic inequality in the black community. Therefore, it has members who have an intimate understanding of the community. They work toward this goal through grantmaking, various programs and donor-advised funds.

William Reuben Pettiford
Although only living a short 25 years, William Reuben Pettiford, founder of the Penny Savings Bank made a huge impact. Photo via Encyclopedia of Alabama.

I need more details, how exactly does it work?

The Penny Foundation does a lot—let me walk you through it.

It gives small businesses the resources to reach their philanthropic goals.

Through the Corporate Giving Program, the Penny Foundation allows small businesses to set up a foundation fund and grant it to a nonprofit. Also, gives them the opportunity to:

  • Fund grants to public charities
  • Pay employee matching grants
  • Grow brand and visibility
  • Receive tax benefits
  • Build a charitable reserve

It creates grants that support critical work in the black community.

The Penny Foundation builds funds through its platform and mobilizes community members under its umbrella. As a result, members are able to put together grants that drive community development through financial and intellectual resources.

It gives you a place to invest your dollars.

Through the Penny Foundation, people like you and me can invest our dollars in local businesses. Specifically in Birmingham, this includes businesses like the Freedom Line Bus Tours and the Bluejireh Foundation.

“The Penny Foundation provides a platform for small businesses to build corporate giving programs to meet the goals of their company. 

Through the Corporate Giving Program organizations are able to define giving priorities, decide the timing of charitable disbursements, advise identity-based initiatives and identify key board members.”

Lyord Watson, Executive Director of the Penny Foundation

Although, this isn’t everything the organization accomplishes. Head to their website to learn about more of their programs such as the community-owned grocery store.

How is it impacting Birmingham?

Freedom Line Tours
In addition to helping businesses like Freedom Line Tours, the Foundation has programs such as community-owned grocery stores, SmartTown and Our Voice Our Time. Photo via Freedom Line Tours Facebook.

The Penny Foundation recently announced its initiative to support 100 small businesses through its Corporate Giving Program. So, what will this mean for Birmingham businesses who participate?

“Businesses will be able to enjoy the benefits of a private foundation without the added expenses and administrative burdens.

Businesses are given access to a trusted platform that gives and raises funds to specifically help the community. Each will have the opportunity to drive their passions and objectives, with the support of an extended network. “

Lyord Watson, Executive Director of The Penny Foundation

As mentioned above, Freedom Line Bus Tours and the Bluejireh Foundation are already participating in the program. While all businesses are welcome, the initial set is from Birmingham.

“All levels have been supportive of The Penny Foundation and its programs.

This includes public officials, business owners and community members. Our goal is to continue to provide the needed tools and resources for the growth of less fortunate communities in the area. “

Lyord Watson, Executive Director of The Penny Foundation

Learn more about The Penny Foundation through its Facebook and Instagram.

Irene Richardson
Irene Richardson
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