Black-owned businesses were disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 crisis due to historic discriminatory practices that left them under-funded, less likely to secure bank loans, and more likely to be left out of government aid. Together We Thrive (TWT) was a coalition convened by United Way of New York City (UWNYC) that provided access to capital, social networks, and technical assistance to support the success and sustainability of Black-owned businesses across NYC.

Hester Street supported the development of the program and its expansion by providing program strategy and targeted support for NYC’s Black businesses. We worked with coalition partners across the nonprofit, corporate, and government sectors to expand TWT work and directly supported the program’s technical assistance (TA), volunteer service offerings, communications, and program evaluation.

HST developed a self-guided curriculum and training program to support TWT volunteers and mentors. The training was a three-part program to ensure the diverse pool of volunteers and mentors from different demographic backgrounds, geographies, and professions had a baseline understanding of the history and experiences of Black business owners and could expand their understanding of equity and unconscious bias in professional relationships.

The team also collaborated with various partners to develop interactive maps, build data visualization dashboards, and design a dynamic website that continues to serve as an information hub for the initiative and a Black Business Directory. In January 2022, HST published an impact report, highlighting accomplishments of the program, as well as testimonials from business and volunteer participants.