The Urban League of Louisiana Awards $90,000 in Grants to Nine Black-owned Food Service Operators in Louisiana

In Partnership with the PepsiCo Foundation’s Black Restaurant Accelerator Program

NEW ORLEANS (press release) – The Urban League of Louisiana (ULLA), in collaboration with the National Urban League, announced nine recipients of its 2022 Black Restaurant Accelerator program grants sponsored by the PepsiCo Foundation.

The Black Restaurant Accelerator program is a part of a $10M investment by the PepsiCo Foundation to provide current and aspiring Black food service operators with access to capital, training, mentorship and other support services through the National Urban League’s 12 entrepreneurship centers. The national program seeks to boost approximately 500 Black-owned businesses over 5 years.

“As the Urban League of Louisiana continues to expand its services across the state of Louisiana, we are committed to reaching even more Black-owned small businesses in our most vulnerable communities with the support and resources that are critical to their success”, says Judy Reese Morse, President & CEO, Urban League of Louisiana. “As such, Urban League of Louisiana relies on the expertise and alliance of partner organizations, such as the PepsiCo Foundation, that understand the severity and urgency of the resources, funding, expert training, counseling services, and other support services that small businesses need to recover and successfully grow. We applaud the PepsiCo Foundation for their vision and are grateful that they have entrusted us to administer this work in the state of Louisiana.”

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Through its Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation, ULLA has a long-standing commitment to supporting women- and minority-owned small businesses across the state of Louisiana with various initiatives like Scale Up! Louisiana, Start Up! Louisiana, the SBA Community Navigator Pilot Program, and since 2021, the PepsiCo Black Restaurant Accelerator program.

The Black Restaurant Accelerator program provides opportunities for direct grant assistance as well as entrepreneurial coaching and training on a variety of topics, including: accounting and financial systems, inventory management, operational efficiency, marketing for growth and ROI, and staff development. The program provides participants with access to entrepreneurship advisors and PepsiCo employee volunteers to build an actionable plan for growth.

“With the support of the PepsiCo Foundation, the Urban League of Louisiana continues to expand its services to support the needs of Black-owned food service operators in Louisiana”, says Klassi Duncan, Vice President, Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation, Urban League of Louisiana. “This program has been a game-changer for participants by providing the education, counseling, and critical resources needed to recover, grow, and scale. In fact, these resources are assisting businesses in getting one step closer to creating generational wealth for their families and for their communities.”

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In year two of this five-year program, the Urban League of Louisiana hosted three restaurant accelerator programs through its partnership with PROOF, a Chattanooga-based restaurant incubator and restaurant consulting firm. PROOF provides industry-based entrepreneurial training, online learning tools and resources, as well as, consulting services for participating businesses.

Also in 2022, the program awarded nine food service operators from Louisiana each with a $10,000 grant to support a growth project related to operational efficiency, production, business management, etc. The following Louisiana-based businesses received the PepsiCo grant for the program year:

Eligible businesses were those that are Black-owned, operating a restaurant, food truck, or catering service in the state of Louisiana, were impacted by recent disasters, and demonstrated a compelling need for the use of funds. Grantees were also selected based on their potential for recovery and growth and service to their community.
“Black-owned food service operators are the cornerstone of Louisiana’s economy”, says Vance Vaucresson, Co-owner of Vaucresson’s Café and Deli. “Supporting us creates a domino effect of economic impact for our families and our communities. As we move forward in growing and scaling our business, the support of the National Urban League and the Urban League of Louisiana has been invaluable. The PepsiCo Foundation grant has been used to support the physical build-out of Vaucresson’s Café and Deli, as well as, the accounting, marketing, and other professional services needed to launch.”
Julie Vaucresson, Co-owner of Vaucresson’s Café and Deli, adds “The Black Restaurant Accelerator program has provided us with critical support throughout this journey. We are extremely humbled by the support of the PepsiCo Foundation, the National Urban League, and the Urban League of Louisiana. With it, we are inspired and motivated to grow and scale while impacting our community!”
Congratulations to the participants and grantees of the 2022 Black Restaurant Accelerator program!

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