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Supporting Cultural Businesses During The Pandemic

When the Commonwealth of Massachusetts shut down most retail businesses on March 23d as “non-essential” due to the COVID-19 pandemic, local business owners in Roxbury’s Nubian Square were immediately at risk of losing more than several months of revenue. Already faced with a weak market and a series of store closings before the pandemic, local business owners had to brace for the worst. They stood to lose their life savings if they had to close up shop for good. And if this worst case occurred, the community stood to lose important ethnic businesses which embody Roxbury’s Black and Latinx cultures.

In response to this threat of business shutdown and cultural displacement, Nuestra pivoted its cultural economic development program to aid at-risk businesses in Nubian Square.
To date, Nuestra has created $88,500 in opportunity for Black-and Latinx-owned businesses in the district. This support took several forms. Nuestra sponsored Dr. Lesa Denis-Mohamad’s Gallery Eye Care, an optometry shop incorporating local art displays, for a sustainability grant from Boston Local Initiatives Support Corporation. Within Nuestra’s own commercial properties, we granted targeted rent concessions to Black-owned Frugal Bookstore.
As described in a Bay State Banner article, this assistance was a key ingredient in their sustainability success story, along with the owners’ creativity, marketing strategy and hard work.
 Artists are an important part of the cultural economy in Roxbury. Nuestra designed a 2020 Black Lives Matters arts initiative and raised funds to support local artists with commissions. On August 30, Ricardo “Deme5” Gomez unveiled his street mural, “Rules of Engagement”, with a multi-layered text of racial justice, at Bartlett Station. You can see a very cool “making of” video showing the installation start to finish.

Another commission went to Radiant Jasmin to fabricate art-infused street furniture for use in COVID-safe outdoor events and dining at Bartlett Station. Local entrepreneurs Jamal Abdal-Khallaq and Isiah Gray and their Ten Grand production company held COVID-safe “@Nubian Drive-In Movie” nights at Bartlett Station featuring films such as ‘Do the Right Thing’ in order to continue community conversation around racial justice. Ten Grand hired local members of the Male Engagement Network sponsored by Boston LISC to staff their events. (Ricardo Gomez is also a Nubian Square MEN member.)

To support local ethnic food businesses, Nuestra contracted with Soleil Restaurant to help provide emergency food relief to low-income households in Roxbury. Nuestra secured a Boston Resilience Fund grant from the city, with the majority of funds paid to Soleil to make and deliver 1,800 prepared meals to apartment buildings along Blue Hill Avenue and Dudley Street. Using this grant, Nuestra also purchased grocery cards from Tropical Foods to help over 250 families supplement the non-perishable foods available at food pantries.

Want to help promote Roxbury’s cultural businesses and fight cultural gentrification? Donate to Nuestra Comunidad today by clicking this link here!


By |September 11th, 2020|Comments Off on Supporting Cultural Businesses During The Pandemic

Nuestra & Soleil Feeding Roxbury Neighbors In Need

The Boston Resiliency Fund Steering Committee on June 11th awarded Nuestra Comunidad a $35,000 grant to secure food access for Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan residents least able to access enough food at this time. With grant partner Soleil restaurant, we are serving seniors & families least able to leave their housing & most vulnerable to COVID-19. Thanks to the City of Boston and Mayor Marty Walsh for this important resource.

Nuestra also operates two food pickup sites and provides grocery purchases to supplement food pantry supplies for residents with food insecurity. During the COVID19 state of emergency, Nuestra to date has provided 8,605 meals, using $63,880 in in-kind donations to help address food insecurity. We identified these households by making 3,412 wellness calls, made by a team of volunteers and staff. Another major need identified was rental assistance; and we have referred 206 households to rental assistance agencies.

It’s gratifying to partner with Nubian Square restaurant owner Cheryl Straughter in this effort. Cheryl and her Soleil restaurant were recently recognized for their business leadership in Nubian Square in a Boston Globe profile, available https://bit.ly/2BYu63y

If you’d like to donate to this effort, go to our donate page in the menu above. To volunteer, contact Monica Dean at mdean@oppcommunities.org.

By |June 13th, 2020|Comments Off on Nuestra & Soleil Feeding Roxbury Neighbors In Need

Nuestra Stands With Roxbury, Against Racism

The murder of George Floyd—sadly following the killings of Ahmaud Aubrey, Breonna Taylor, and so many before—on the heels of the pandemic leaves us sad, angry, and thirsting for justice. Nuestra and our partners in Opportunity Communities (OppCo) stand in solidarity with black and brown people in demanding justice & the end to institutional racism. Nuestra and OppCo recommit to working to resolve racial injustice that undermines the soul of our communities and our country. We stand with community leaders who are stepping forward, speaking their truth, and making clear proposals on stopping police violence against people of color. Change can’t wait any longer.

At the same time, the past three gut- wrenching months have been particularly hard for communities of color who have disproportionally borne the brunt of the twin pandemics of racism and COVID-19. In Nuestra’s communities of Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan, and the other OppCo communities of Chelsea, Revere and Everett, we worry when families must go to work without adequate protection, when the rent is due and the job is shuttered, when our children’s education is interrupted, and when our parents are hospitalized. We will continue to address our neighbors’ immediate needs for food and financial assistance, and work to create a system where no one lacks for food, or has to choose between food and rent.

OppCo is a strategy to build strong community organizations to fight for immediate relief and structural change. OppCo provides a platform for locally-led member-organizations to build communities where all residents can pursue their dreams, with opportunity for all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender identity or sexual orientation. In order to undo structural racism, we believe it is important for change to be led by residents, and for profit to remain in the community where it is earned. We know that we cannot create opportunity communities without an end to police brutality and institutional racism. We commit to better understand how to undo racism and achieve these goals. Nuestra Comunidad and our OppCo partner, The Neighborhood Developers, commit to work with many others in our neighborhoods to create strong and racially just communities. Our resolve is only strengthened by these trials and we are encouraged and motivated by the opportunity the protests present.

By |June 9th, 2020|Comments Off on Nuestra Stands With Roxbury, Against Racism

Apply to be part of the Dudley Promise Corps

DPC Recruitment flyer APRIL update. draft (1)

By |April 6th, 2016|Comments Off on Apply to be part of the Dudley Promise Corps