Donations coming in to help Oakland's Black business owners, deadline to apply for grant approaching

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Black business owners in Oakland who have suffered losses due to the COVID-19 shutdown or looting and vandalism have until Saturday to apply for grants from the Oakland African American Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber of commerce has already raised about $600,000 for it's resiliency relief fund and has a goal of getting up to $1 million.

Chamber President Cathy Adams says the grants will range from $5,000 to $10,000 and do not need to be repaid. Any Black-owned business in Oakland can apply.

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Fitness trainer and life coach Jay Queen has already sent in his application to try to save his business. Queen opened a private fitness studio called New Vision Fitness a year and a half ago, but the shelter-in-place order forced him to shut it down. Now Queen is training some clients on line and struggling to keep his dream of creating a wellness center alive.

"It's very scary for me to do what I am doing. Being a black man (who) never owned a business before - it's hard," he said.

Many of Oakland's Black businesses are facing what Adams calls a double pandemic. First they were hit by COVID-19, then by vandals who damaged almost 200 Oakland businesses.

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The chamber of commerce was swamped with calls from its members and decided to start raising money to help. The fund just got a big boost from Clorox which is donating $200,000.

The chamber is also pushing for smaller donations and has an anonymous donor who has agreed to do a dollar for dollar match. The fundraising will continue beyond the deadline for grant applications.

"This is an opportunity for the entire community to step up and participate" Adams said. "At least you can sit in your home and you can sit in your office and say, you know what - I did my part and I tried to help."

To apply for grant or donate, click here.
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