Chicago's My Block, My Hood, My City helping small businesses in need

It’s cold outside in the Auburn-Gresham neighborhood, but inside Afro Joe’s Coffee and Teas on 83rd and Halsted, you are met with a warm welcome.

"We always try to spread the love you know," said Kendall Griffin, owner of Afro Joe’s Coffee and Teas.

The business has been open for a year.

"It was frustrating to me that in every other community in the city you can walk to a coffee shop, I was frustrated that I had to get in my car and drive," said Kendall and Aisha Griffin.

This is the only Black family-owned coffee shop in the area. The next one is eight miles away.

The business was conceptualized starting with an idea that grew before the pandemic.

"We put all of our savings into opening up. We were opened for four weeks, and then they closed all indoor dining," said Kendall and Aisha Griffin.

All hope wasn’t lost. Shortly after that, Kendall and Aisha Griffin saw a post on social media 

"We are putting $200,000 in the streets, and we want to show up and help you, small businesses in need right now," said Jahmal Cole, Founder of My Block, My Hood, My City.


My Block, My Hood, My City is offering micro grants to businesses to help them stay afloat.

The Griffin Family received one last year and was able to buy much needed equipment.

"We raised a million dollars on Instagram in one day, the highest donation was $69," said Cole.

300 businesses received $1,000, $2,500 and the max was $5,000.

Cole says his non-profit is ready to do it again after raising $2-million this time.

"There’s already been 350 businesses that applied since yesterday," said Cole. "We are going to have to go back to the bank and get $100,000 because there’s so many businesses reaching out."

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