CitizensNYC Investments In NYC Small Business Owners Make A Difference From Harlem To Hollis

May 5, 2022

Just in time for Small Business Week, Citizens Committee for New York City (CitizensNYC), a micro-funding organization supporting civic leaders and developing tomorrow’s leaders, is thrilled to announce that Wells Fargo has made another $250,000 investment in New York City’s small business community.

The investment will put dollars right into the hands of small business owners across New York City through CitizensNYC’s Neighborhood Business Grant program.

The program provides micro-grants of up to $10,000 to small businesses, with an emphasis on businesses owned by people of color, immigrants, and women.

Natasha Williams of Jamaica, Queens, says her life was changed when CitizensNYC selected her business, NV Home Solutions, for a Neighborhood Business Grant supported by Wells Fargo last year.

Her company helps low and moderate-income Black and Brown families purchase property – in some cases, their first homes. The company also helps clients build credit and secure grants or mortgages.

But like so many business owners, Williams struggled to build her client base during the COVID-19 pandemic. She had to pivot, and fast.

“My business adapted to include virtual business practices and upgraded technology infrastructure,” said Williams. “I also had to purchase PPE inventory. The support from CitizensNYC was invaluable and a true blessing.”

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Beyond business operations, Williams used the grant to:

  • Teach high school students about financial literacy and entrepreneurship
  • Begin building a financial literacy program infrastructure focused on teaching young people about home ownership and real estate investing
  • Counsel high school seniors in practical financial literacy tactics
  • Present at the NHS Brooklyn Homeownership & Grants Seminar and the Queens Borough Office for the Youth-preneur Summit

CitizensNYC will announce the latest round of Wells Fargo Neighborhood Business Grant recipients in mid-June, 2022.

The 27 small businesses span industries like wellness and beauty, restaurant, retail, art, music, advertising and marketing, education, health and medical services, hospitality, entertainment, legal services, entertainment, and travel/tourism.

“New York’s economy is powered by small businesses, and we’re committed to helping them succeed financially,” said Catherine Domenech, vice president, New York Community Relations. “For the second straight year, Wells Fargo is proud to support CitizensNYC’s Neighborhood Business Grant program, which will further strengthen the small business sector as the city rebounds after the pandemic.”

The investment is just the latest show of support from Wells Fargo, which has given approximately $1,400,000 to support neighborhood projects and small businesses over the course of a decade.

Small business growth, financial literacy, housing affordability, and sustainability are the key areas of Wells Fargo’s commitment to community development.

“We believe small businesses are a vital economic engine that allows New York City to come back stronger,” said Dr. Rahsaan Harris, CEO of CitizensNYC. “But also, they’re an essential thread in the fabric that makes up our community experience. We’re grateful to Wells Fargo for its continued partnership in funding neighborhood businesses. When local businesses flourish and have a chance to succeed, we all benefit.”

CitizensNYC has awarded more than 30 small businesses with micro-grants since 2021, throughout all five boroughs of New York City.

Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo is a leading financial services company that proudly serves one in three U.S. households and more than 10% of all middle-market companies and small businesses in the U.S.  In the communities we serve, the company focuses its social impact on building a sustainable, inclusive future for all by supporting housing affordability, small business growth, financial health, and a low-carbon economy.

Citizens Committee for New York City

Citizens Committee for New York City’s mission is to help New Yorkers – especially those in low-income areas – come together and improve the quality of life in their neighborhoods. Residents are uniquely situated to define and act on the issues affecting their communities. When provided with modest support, neighborhood and school groups can effectively mobilize with the assistance of grants, skills-building workshops, and project planning assistance. In 2020, CitizensNYC provided 402 projects with nearly $1.2M in direct cash grants, impacting more than 87,685 residents in 122 neighborhoods across all five boroughs. Since 1975, we have promoted the spirit of volunteerism, local engagement, and social justice that drives our work.


Photo credit: East Harlem’s Michelle Cruz.

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