June has always been a month that highlights various efforts to a more equitable and just America. It is a time for recognizing the Stonewall Riots through Pride and commemorating the end of slavery in the United States through Juneteenth (June 19). In recent years, the fight for equality has been rightfully put at the forefront of the conversation again, causing celebrations such as Pride Month and Juneteenth to gain more attention and respect.
Just last year, June added another historical moment to its ranks: in response to the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers, numerous protests broke out across the United States and the world. Protests across the nation hit their peak on June 6 of 2020, and experts shared that the Black Lives Matter movement had become the largest movement in U.S. history.
A year later, it’s important to look back and take accountability for our commitment to social impact, especially when it comes to racial equity. It’s been an exciting year for Cerrell: we’ve been fortunate to be included in a number of racial equity initiatives across the southland, where we’ve utilized our own expertise in communications to ensure equitable access to our clients’ programs and resources.
Los Angeles Regional COVID-19 Recovery Fund
In response to COVID-19, the City and County of Los Angeles created the LA Regional COVID-19 Recovery Fund, a $100 million grant program for small businesses, micro-entrepreneurs, and non-profits. Cerrell worked with our client LISC LA to ensure that the distribution of this funding would be executed equitably, and that the application process was fair and would not leave out marginalized communities most in need.
In designing and managing the Fund’s strategic communications and marketing program through an equitable lens, Cerrell worked with technical providers to create promotional materials in over 20 languages, built relationships with community leaders across Los Angeles County to spread the word about the funding, and secured local and national media coverage in multiple languages. This bilingual paid digital marketing campaign ensured that information about the Fund was not only reaching English speaking, well-resourced communities, but individuals who would have otherwise not been targeted or reached in a traditional digital marketing program.
After we learned through the first rounds of the program that many Black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC)-owned businesses were learning about the grants from other business owners, Cerrell personally worked with the Fund’s grant recipients to create an ambassador program to educate more business owners on the program. Through these Fund Ambassadors, we eliminated another barrier of access to the Fund and increased the grant program’s reach to many overlooked small businesses across the county.
Cerrell’s efforts with the Fund continue in 2021 as we work to connect entrepreneurs and small businesses of all backgrounds to crucial financial support to assist them in their COVID-19 economic recovery.
Providence Health Equity Initiative
The impacts of racial inequity can be seen starkly within the health care industry, as people of color remain at an increased risk of being uninsured and are more likely to receive poorer quality of care in comparison to their white counterparts. Our client Providence, one of the nation’s largest non-profit medical systems, has seen firsthand how communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In early 2021, Providence pledged $1.4 million to identify and prioritize inequities within underserved communities across both LA and Orange County and the High Desert. Since this investment, Providence has delivered over 75,000 COVID-19 test kits, trained and provided multilingual community health workers to deliver clinic-based and in-home care, and hosted numerous pop-up vaccination clinics in underserved communities across Southern California. With a new $2 million grant to continue their work, Providence has also partnered with Live Chair to equip Black barbers and Black-owned barbershops with the tools they need to provide health screenings and increase access to care for their clients—with a particular focus on hypertension in the Black community.
Cerrell has worked closely with Providence to promote out its Health Equity Initiative, providing our community relations expertise to reach communities of color and increase awareness for Providence’s efforts in the region. Throughout the past year, we’ve been on site at Providence clinics in order to connect with community members, health care providers, and local leaders and ensure Providence’s initiative continues to be informed by what we are seeing on the ground. At one of these clinics, Providence successfully partnered with a South LA community pillar, Lincoln Memorial Congressional Church, to ensure 200 Black Angelenos were able to access vital vaccines.
The Black Economic Development Agenda (BEDA)
One of Cerrell’s primary responsibilities in 2021 for LISC LA has been to elevate their newest initiative: the Black Economic Development Agenda. This initiative weaves LISC’s commitment to close the racial wealth gap and empower Black Angelenos into its existing programs and influences the creation of new programs.
This year, our team has worked with LISC LA to envision and strategize how we can ensure these programs will reach and benefit communities of color. To promote LISC’s impact on Black communities in Los Angeles, we planned a video highlighting the non-profit’s work in the Vermont-Slauson and Crenshaw neighborhoods, two communities that LISC LA hopes to continue to support through BEDA.
The Cerrell team also developed a landing page for LISC’s BEDA initiative to help Black Angelenos access resources and apply to upcoming programs meant to encourage economic and leadership development within Black communities. As 2021 continues, Cerrell will work to promote Black business success stories out of LISC LA’s programs and reach broader audiences within Los Angeles’ Black business communities as new programs arise.
What's Next for Cerrell?
This is just a snapshot of work we’ve done in our effort to support communities of color in the wake of COVID-19 and the recent reckoning for racial justice. These large-scale programs were front and center in Southern California during the pandemic and while the road to economic recovery begins to take focus now that the majority of Californians have been vaccinated, Cerrell already has numerous projects slated for the second half of 2021 that align with our social impact goals.
Black Business Excellence Technical Assistance (BBET) Initiative
In response to the struggling commercial corridors in low-income communities of color, LISC LA is launching the Black Business Excellence Technical Assistance Initiative, an intensive accelerator program that will provide Black-owned small businesses in the personal care industry – health, wellness, and beauty – with the support they need to take their businesses to the next level. Nearly 20% of storefronts on these “main streets” and commercial corridors are personal care businesses, and LISC LA is selecting 30 Black-owned personal care businesses to support through BBET. Cerrell will be supporting LISC LA in promoting the program’s application periods and to elevate these local Black-owned businesses as they continue to grow.
At Cerrell, we are always seeking to partner with organizations who are putting in the work to bring about meaningful change – as communication experts, we strive to share the tools at our disposal to elevate important issues and the creative solutions groups like LISC LA and Providence are working every day to implement. Whether it’s breaking down systemic barriers to empower BIPOC communities or tackling the everyday inequity in your industry through direct action, Cerrell wants to be your partner in achieving progress and moving the needle of change.