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State Selects Black LA Firm to Disburse $500 Million in COVID Relief Grants

By: Tanu Henry, California Black Media

The State of California announced that it has selected a Black-led-and-operated financial firm in Los Angeles to act as the intermediary charged with disbursing $500 million in COVID-19 grants to California small businesses and non-profits.

The California Office of The Small Business Advocate (CalOSBA), which operates under the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz), says small businesses and non-profit organizations across California that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic can begin submitting applications for relief grants ranging from $5,000 to $25,000. The application process begins now and runs through Jan. 8, 2021.

The governor and the Legislature first announced the program Nov. 30.

The funding to the organizations will be administered through Lendistry, a Black-led-and-operated financial firm based in Los Angeles. Lendistry is designated both a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) and a Community Development Entity (CDE) small business and commercial real estate lender.

“As an organization dedicated to efficiently providing capital to underserved small businesses, and with a deeply experienced senior management team that mirrors the diversity of our home state of California, Lendistry is proud to partner with the CalOSBA in this bold and critical effort,” said Everett K. Sands, Lendistry’s founder and CEO.

Sands, who has broad experience in small business and commercial

lending, says since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Lendistry has assisted over 19,000 small businesses in a dozen states. The organization has also deployed nearly a half-billion dollars in capital.

“We are bringing the full force of our technology, expertise and relationships with partner CDFIs and community organizations to bear on CalOSBA’s landmark commitment to California’s small businesses,” he said.

CalOSBA says it will announce a second window for accepting applications to ensure the process is inclusive for disadvantaged minority firms.

“Small businesses form the economic heart of every community. Inclusive, equitable relief is fundamental to the small business support developed by this administration,” said Isabel Guzman, CalOSBA Director. “This grant program provides that support through a network of Community Development Financial Institutions and Community Based Organizations ensuring reach to those highly impacted small businesses in disadvantaged communities, underserved small business groups, and industries disproportionately impacted by this pandemic.”

The criteria for selecting beneficiaries will include industry sectors most impacted by the pandemic; small businesses and organizations that are “mission lenders” or are operated by — or that direct their services to — underserved groups, including women, minorities, rural populations, among others; and organizations located in areas affected by the governor’s COVID-19 health and safety restrictions first issued in March and the his more recent regional stay-at-home orders.

For more information on the grant requirements and eligibility, or to apply, please visit careliefgrant.com.

Photo Caption: Everett K. Sands, Lendistry’s founder and CEO

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