Alicia Keys Launches $1B Endowment Fund To Support Black Businesses

Isheka N. Harrison
Written by Isheka N. Harrison
Alicia Keys
Alicia Keys is launching a $1B Endowment Fund for Black businesses to fight against racism and do her part to provide more equity. In this photo, Keys arrives at Billboard’s Women in Music at the Hollywood Palladium on Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Alicia Keys performed for the NFL’s Kickoff event Thursday, Sept. 10, but she was more excited about the donation the league is contributing to the $1B Endowment Fund she’s launching for Black businesses.

In a letter obtained by Billboard, Keys explained why she decided to perform at the kickoff for the NFL, despite not thinking she’d ever do so again.

“Today, I will be doing something I never thought I would do again. I’m performing for the NFL Kickoff event. My initial reaction was to decline because of some of the NFL’s past decisions. Yet I realized I HAVE to use my platform, we all need to use our platforms, every chance we get to press for racial equity,” Keys wrote.

She said she created the fund in wake of the continued racism, discrimination and injustice Black Americans face. It’s her way of helping to level the playing field.

“We are already seeing the blatant injustices that are going on around us,” Keys told Billboard. “As an artist, I’m always thinking about how can I use my platform to further racial equity. This fund is one of the answers and our goal is to empower Black America through investing in Black businesses, Black investors, institutions, entrepreneurs, schools and banks in a way to create sustainable solutions.”

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Seeing it as an opportunity to go from highlighting problems to creating tangible solutions. Keys said her goal is to grow and develop the fund for years to come.

“The fund will be steered by Black leadership with a clear goal to empower Black America. The fund will create long term solutions with a focus on Black entrepreneurs, businesses, communities, Black schools, banks, and other Black institutions, while addressing persistent social, economic and environmental disparities,” Keys continued. “It’s starting here, but the intention is to build a multi-billion-dollar endowment across multiple industries. Through our collective action, we can end the needless and preventable agony created by systemic racism.”

She acknowledged it was not sufficient by itself to address the long-term, systemic issues, but hoped it would spur additional support.

“The initial goal of $1 billion is to ensure a substantial commitment,” Keys said. “Even with that it does not come close to closing the economic gap. The next steps are to reach out to different industries to invite them to invest in racial justice and create a multi-billion dollar endowment across business sectors.”

While the NFL heralded the partnership as another way it is joining the movement to fight for the value of Black lives, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick called the league’s efforts insincere “propaganda.” He also accused it of blackballing his friend and former Carolina Panther Eric Reid for standing against racial injustice alongside him.

“While the NFL runs propaganda about how they care about Black Life, they are still actively blackballing Eric Reid (@E_Reid35) for fighting for the Black community. Eric set 2 franchise records last year, and is one of the best defensive players in the league” Kaepernick tweeted on Sept. 13.