Communities Initiative

A catalytic consortium to accelerate racial equity in six Southern communities that are home to more than half of all African Americans, in ways that are locally led, measured and sustained.

Our Current Impact


Obtained commitments of $100B+ for corporate and philanthropic racial equity programs across the U.S.


Targets the six communities home to approximately half of the U.S. Black population.


Supporting 9,000 Black-owned business and minority business enterprises (MBEs).


Partnering with over 90 organizations to date.


Estimated economic impact after ~10 years.

Southern Communities Initiative acts as a channel partner for corporate and philanthropic organizations to:


on growing Black-owned and other minority business enterprises


 high-impact community organizations and initiatives


across the racial equity ecosystem to break down silos


and sustain impact in six Southern U.S. communities

Powered By

The official logo of PayPal.
The official logo of Boston Consulting Group.
The official logo of Vista Equity Partners.
The official logo of W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Southern Communities Initiative Regions

Southern Communities Initiative focuses efforts on six specific Southern regions where the majority of the Black American population resides.

Greater New Orleans, Louisiana

Birmingham, Alabama

Charlotte, North Carolina

Houston, Texas

Memphis, Tennessee

A picture of the highway in downtown Atlanta, Georgia with cars passing by buildings.

Atlanta, Georgia

Racial Equity Priorities

We are focused on four racial equity priorities where this consortium has the ability to drive impact.

Minority Business Enterprise Entrepreneurship and Supplier Diversity

Grow Black-owned and other minority business enterprises.

Access to Capital (CDFI/MDI)

Modernize CDFI/MDI systems and technology, hire and train talent and increase CDFI/MDI capacity to issue more capital.

Education/HBCU and Workforce Development

Reduce student debt and support high-paying employment opportunities via education and skills training for Black Americans.

Digital Access

Increase access and adoption of affordable high-speed internet solutions for low-income and minority households.

Our Partners

Nearly 100 partners support Southern Communities Initiative and local organizations in the six Southern regions. The Initiative is powered by Vista Equity Partners, Boston Consulting Group, PayPal and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation​​.

The official logo of PayPal.


The official logo of Boston Consulting Group.

Boston Consulting Group

The official logo of Vista Equity Partners.

Vista Equity Partners

The official logo of W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

W.K. Kellogg Foundation

Join Us and Get Involved!

If you are interested in partnering with Southern Communities Initiative or wish to volunteer your time, we invite you to explore the different ways you can engage.

Charlotte, North Carolina

Racial Equity Priorities

Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) Entrepreneurship and Supplier Diversity

Creating and Scaling Black-owned Businesses

Southern Communities Initiative focuses on increasing the number and value of MBEs in the region. Southern Communities Initiative specifically aims at raising the economic weight of Black-owned businesses from 2% to 6% of the aggregated value of all businesses in the region.  

Additionally, small businesses in primarily Black communities tend to have lower profit margins and concentrate in industries with less potential for growth.

Black entrepreneurs often face many barriers, including a lack of access to capital, technical assistance, procurement opportunities and more.

Creating and scaling a greater number of Black-owned businesses is crucial to generating employment opportunities for people of color and increasing wealth in the community and economy.

A Black barber adjusts a smock on a young Black boy sitting in a barber chair.


Offer In-Kind FTEs for Supplier Diversity:

Offer 2-5 FTEs to Charlotte Regional Business Alliance (CRBA) over 5 years to convene corporate partners, assess their MBE spend, develop pipeline to increase MBE spend to 5-10%+.

Offer Technical Assistance Expertise:

Partner with CRBA to advise/mentor ~200 MBEs on capital/loan access to help them scale from <$10M to $50M+.

Commit to Supplier Diversity:

Increase MBE spend to 5-10%+.

Estimated Impact (Of All Initiatives): 3X Increase in MBE Value and ~13K New Jobs, Boosting Black Community’s Net Worth by ~$2B+.

Charlotte, North Carolina

Racial Equity Priorities

Digital Access

Increasing Access, Affordability and Adoption to Broadband

Digital access is vital for any community to thrive in today’s world. Southern Communities Initiative’s ambition is to increase access to high-speed internet and its affordability for underserved communities. Currently 10% of households in the Charlotte area are without Internet access.

An African American man sits beside a young Black boy while sitting at a table and doing schoolwork.


Support Center for Digital Equity – $25M:

Secure $25M over 4 years for Center for Digital Equity’s longitudinal project on digital access to enhance health efficacy and agency in the health experience lifecycle.

Raise Community Awareness and Adoption of Emergency Broadband Benefit:

Increase door-to-door and community outreach in low-income neighborhoods to get households onto EBB to help connect ~35K unconnected households.

Drive Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) Adoption:

Secure $1-3M (donations or in kind) to drive door to door and community outreach in low income focus zip codes to get ~12K households onto Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) subsidies in Charlotte.

Provide Digital Access and Technical Assistance for Charlotte Households:

Provide 20K laptops, internet subs and broadband for ~35K households + grant writing support and internet adoption centers.

Support Efforts to Increase Digital Access:

Secure $2.2M for ~4K routers, switches and internet backhaul connections for ~80 bldgs.

Estimated Impact (Of All Initiatives): ~35K Households Get Connected to High-Speed Internet to Unlock ~$700M in Economic Potential for Charlotte.

Charlotte, North Carolina

Racial Equity Priorities

HBCU and Workforce Development

Increasing Bachelors Degrees and Reducing Student Debt

Increasing education quality and minority representation in top job positions can have a positive effect on communities. Southern Communities Initiative aims at increasing Black empowerment and representation in the workforce. In Charlotte, Southern Communities Initiative supports the Mayor’s plan to make of JCSU a top 10 university in the US. Southern Communities Initiative is also planning to help increase the percentage of Black Charlotteans owning college degrees to 59%, and improve the representation of Black/Brown in executive positions to 30%.

Many of those who do graduate from HBCUs, where students are 1.4 times more likely than non-HBCU students to take out student loans and borrow 20% more on average.

Studies have found that taking on student debt can negatively affect academic performance, graduation rates and long-term wealth accumulation.

That is why it is critical to address issues in both enrollment and student loan debt, thus allowing students and graduates to access high-paying job opportunities and build their wealth.

A young African American man smiles while wearing a black graduation cap and gown.


Fund Student Freedom Initiative Program:

$10M to HELPS program and support ~1.5K+ students per year at 3 HBCUs with emergency expenses – e.g., health.

Provide In-Kind Staff:

Offer 2-5 FTEs to Charlotte Regional Business Alliance over 5 years to track and help increase Black-/Brown-exec representation from 10% to 30%+.

Estimated Impact (Of All Initiatives): 2.5K+ Additional College Graduates and 2.5K Workers With High-Paying Wages to Drive ~$0.2B in Economic Growth.

Charlotte, North Carolina

Racial Equity Priorities

Access to Capital (CDFIs/MDI)

Modernizing and Building Capacity for Local CDFIs & MDIs

In Charlotte, 40 percent of Black households are unbanked or underbanked.

Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) and Minority Depository Institutions (MDI) are often viewed as the backbone of community lending and offer favorable terms for low-to-moderate income communities.

However, in order to scale their operations and economic impact, corporations and foundations have a key role in addressing common challenges for CDFIs and MDIs:

  • Outdated systems and technology infrastructure 
  • A lack of talent and workforce development tools
  • Other barriers to enhancing their capacity

Ensuring access to capital for individuals and businesses can spur economic growth and set a strong foundation for wealth accumulation.

An African American woman puts a check into an envelope.


Fund Modernization and Capacity-Building and Provide In-Kind Subject Matter Experts:

$30M to help 4-5 CDFIs over 5 years modernize core systems, hire and train staff, expand marketing and leverage SWAT teams to conduct needs diagnostic, implement tech solution and give technical assistance, enabling an add’l $330M/yr in capital deployed to ~30K MBEs.

* CDFIs/MDIs being considered (examples and not exhaustive): Security Federal Bank, Institute / North Carolina Community Development Initiative, Sequoyah Fund Inc, Self-Help Credit Union, BEFCOR, Aspire Community Capital, etc.

  • Systems and technology modernization – $10M-15M: Add/upgrade core banking systems, hardware and productivity tools, train frontline workforce on new systems and technology and hire engineering specialists to support customization and news systems rollout – over 5 years
  • Talent and workforce – $10M: hire and train additional frontline lending staff and invest in recruiting, training, compensation and benefits and retention to increase in-house expertise and loan capacity – over 5 years
  • Other capacity-building and outreach – $8M: hire additional staff to increase custom borrower and technical assistance (e.g., credit building, MBE financing options, etc.) and increase community outreach to drive regional awareness and new pipeline projects – over 5 years
    • * In partnership with National Bankers Association and Appalachian Community Capital; CDFIs/MDIs being considered include: Security Federal Bank, Institute / North Carolina Community Development Initiative, Sequoyah Fund Inc, etc.

Estimated Impact (Of All Initiatives): ~$330M in Additional Loans per Year to Support ~30K MBEs.