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BLACK Collective supports business and culture in Inland Empire’s black community – press enterprise

Founded by small business owner Kyla Booker, the Black Leaders Achieving Culture Knowledge (BLACK) collective is dedicated to promoting entrepreneurship, self-reliance and uplifting the black community.

Booker hopes BLACK Collective’s work will inspire others to get involved, share their stories, pursue their dreams, and support fellow members of the black community. When Booker’s mother came to Riverside City Council, she realized she didn’t see many African American leaders in the area and wanted to help change that.

Montrel Lawrence, left, board members of Black Leaders Achieving Culture Knowledge (BLACK), and Denise Booker share information with the public about the group’s work. (Courtesy of BLACK Collective)

As a fledgling nonprofit group founded in 2019, BLACK Collective has stepped in to help fight the coronavirus pandemic. The organization distributed information to keep the community up to date and safe. He also distributed masks, hand sanitizer and launched a public pantry to meet other needs, sharing on social media what was available and making sure those in need received the items. that they missed.

BLACK Collective has also worked with partners to increase the visibility of racism and advance the discussion of how it affects the well-being of the community. After discussions with the Riverside County Board of Supervisors, the board voted 5-0 on August 4, 2020 to declare racism a public health crisis, agreeing to take action to address the issue.

“We explained why we thought racism should be declared a public health concern,” Booker said. “It affects housing, education, employment and causes a burden on health.”

One of the organization’s biggest accomplishments was hosting its first Juneteenth Festival at Fairmount Park in Riverside on June 19, 2021. The free event drew 1,700 people and featured 50 vendors. It included black-owned businesses as well as nonprofit groups that help with housing, health, and other community needs.

The next goal of the organization will be economic development. Booker plans to offer courses led by successful business owners who will teach others how to achieve the same success.

“I really want to uplift African American businesses, mom-and-pop stores, and young entrepreneurs,” Booker said. “By helping others develop these skills, it can help our community. “

On February 12, the organization will be hosting a free event at Fairmount Park to celebrate Black History Month. It will feature children’s clown dancers, a jazz band and vendors. BLACK Collective hopes community members enjoy the event and learn more about neglected aspects of black history.

“Come hear what our culture really looks like,” Booker said. We need to change this narrative.

Recently, the BLACK collective received a grant from the Black Equity Initiative through the Inland Empire Community Foundation to help build black unity and black economic development. The organization is run by volunteers and was primarily funded by Booker and his family. She hopes this is the start of creating other programs that will make the community stronger.

Those interested in helping BLACK Collective in their work can reach out to the organization on social media to ask about volunteering at an event or to be a mentor for their classes on starting and running a business. Those who wish to start their own business are also encouraged to follow the organization on social media and monitor the launch of its business development courses.

“Unity is important and rebuilding our village is important to the younger generation,” Booker said. “Our culture is so strong and so powerful in so many different ways.”

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Inland Empire Community Foundation works to strengthen the interior of Southern California through philanthropy.