Since our founding in 2010, we have prioritized giving back to the communities we serve. Our team is encouraged to volunteer during their work hours and are fully compensated for their time. In addition, we donate 1% of our profits, 1% of our employee time, and 1% of our professional services to nonprofit organizations. Through our headquarters in the Northern Kentucky/Cincinnati region, we actively donate and participate with organizations such as CityLink, Talbert House, Ronald McDonald House, and The Freestore Foodbank, to name a few!
One of the most unique nonprofit programs in the Northern Kentucky/Cincinnati area is actually relatively new and under the umbrella of United Way of Greater Cincinnati. It is Black Empowerment Works, an equity-focused grant program that promotes Black self-determination, social mobility, and economic prosperity. By recognizing the transformative power of grassroots initiatives and investing in the work of local Black leaders, the program is dedicated to building a more equitable and empowering future for Black individuals and their communities. Since its inception in 2020, the program has invested over $3 million in 100 visionary ideas and their leaders, underscoring its unwavering commitment to nurturing Black empowerment. The program addresses two critical realities: the over-representation of Black families in poverty and the lack of investment in community-based initiatives led by Black individuals. By providing resources and funding, Black Empowerment Works creates spaces that fuel imagination and support unburdened, self-determined Black futures.
“I got into this work because I wanted to find ways to build and support the Black community, and through Black Empowerment Works I’ve been able to do that and more. More than investing dollars into the great grassroots work that’s happening right in our own neighborhoods, Black Empowerment Works seeks to shift traditional models of power.
We have the folks in these neighborhoods to decide where the dollars go within the Greater Cincinnati area. I think that’s the beauty of our program, that the folks passionate about investing in Black futures and the surrounding community are the ones who make the call on what they want to see in their communities.”
- Jeremiah Pennebaker, Senior Associate of Black-Led Social Change
Through the Black Empowerment Works program, volunteers review applications and then meet with applicants and select who gets funded. Black Empowerment Works has funded a multitude of programs, work, and ideas with the help of 90+ volunteer community reviewers. These volunteers collectively invest hundreds of hours in reviewing applications and selecting deserving grantees. By taking part in the decision-making process, Community Reviewers will experience a deeper understanding of Black-led, grassroots work happening in Greater Cincinnati, build connections with other community members passionate about providing resources to and funding Black work, and ongoing opportunities to engage in Black Empowerment Works. Their dedication embodies the collaborative spirit and shared determination that drives the program forward. Prolocity couldn’t be more proud to have one of the community reviewers on our team, Jill Kohrs, Director of People and Culture.
When it comes to community, Jill understands that it encompasses more than just shared individuals, locations, and encounters. It also involves the spaces that exist between and within these commonalities. For Jill, it is crucial to perceive both those who are similar to her and those who differ from her as integral parts of her community knowing that while everyone is unique, they often strive toward similar objectives and possess shared necessities. This intricate and splendid nature of communities is what captivates her. That is why she has raised her hand to be a Black Empowerment Works volunteer community reviewer.
“I firmly believe that the key to reducing poverty and fostering wealth in the Greater Cincinnati area lies in our active support, advocacy and participation in local initiatives that address this critical issue. It is my belief that those of us who have experienced personal success within our community should proactively seek out opportunities to mentor and uplift our peers, inspiring and motivating them to achieve their own goals. By sharing our achievements and demonstrating what is possible, we have the power to ignite transformative change.”
-Jill Kohrs, Director of People and Culture
*Images courtesy of United Way of Greater Cincinnati
Jill recognizes the importance of doing the work to change the circumstances that have led to the inequitable space we find ourselves in – where we have an over-representation of a population experiencing poverty, but also consistently lack the space and resources to change those statistics. This work is a collective effort, with a shared understanding of the roles that each of us plays in making the Greater Cincinnati area a place where everyone can thrive. Jill believes that supporting local programs, offering mentorship, pursuing financial education, and actively engaging with Black-owned businesses and community events are pivotal steps toward reducing poverty and building wealth in the Greater Cincinnati area and beyond. By championing these approaches, individuals and the community as a whole can contribute to tangible and positive transformations.
If you are interested in learning more about the Black Empowerment Works program, or even becoming a community reviewer yourself, visit Black Empowerment Works and discover how you can make a difference! Applications for community reviewers are due June 5!