CBCF Welcomes Public Affairs Strategist and Marketing Leader as New President and CEO

Aurthor:    Dr. Erica Southerland        Published: 7/9/2020


Dr. Erica Southerland
                                               FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


CBCF Welcomes Public Affairs Strategist and Marketing Leader as New President and CEO
WASHINGTON — The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc. (CBCF) announced today that Tonya Veasey, communications and marketing agency founder and CEO will lead the organization as its new president and chief executive officer.
For more than 20 years, Veasey has provided award-winning counsel to top corporations, nonprofits, public entities and elected officials in issues management, crisis communications, corporate social responsibility; and diversity, equity and inclusion strategy.
“I am proud to welcome Mrs. Veasey as the new president and CEO of CBCF,” said Rep. Cedric L. Richmond, chair, CBCF board of directors. “As interim president and CEO she has streamlined operations, increased fundraising, created innovative programming and led the organization during a global pandemic and an unprecedented moment in the movement for equity for Black lives.”
Veasey is the founder and CEO of Open Channels Group (OCG+), a purpose driven full-service communications and marketing agency based in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Founded in 2006, OCG+ has grown into a multi-million dollar company. The agency has represented brands including AT&T, Bell Helicopter, and Sodexo.
As CBCF president and CEO, among many responsibilities, Veasey will spearhead strategic planning and vision as the organization adapts to changing socioeconomic landscapes. She will also lead the CBCF mission to advance the global Black community by developing leaders, informing policy and educating the public.
Veasey earned an Executive MBA at Texas Christian University and a bachelor’s degree from Paul Quinn College.
To receive updates on CBCF’s social justice initiatives as they are rolled out over the summer, subscribe to receive the e-newsletter and follow @CBCFinc on Twitter and Instagram.
About the CBCF
Established in 1976, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc. (CBCF) is a non-partisan, nonprofit, public policy, research and educational institute committed to advancing the global black community by developing leaders, informing policy and educating the public. For more information, visit cbcfinc.org.

Finalists Announced for American-Made Solar Prize Round 3

Author: DOE Solar Energy Technologies Office       Published: 7/10/2020

Energy dot gov Office of Energy Efficiency and renewable energy

Solar Energy Technologies Office


American Made Solar Prize

Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) announced the 10 teams selected to advance to the final phase of the $3 million American-Made Solar Prize Round 3. SETO also announced the launch of Round 4. Each team will receive $100,000 in cash, plus $75,000 in vouchers to redeem at DOE’s National Laboratories and other partner facilities. The finalists are:

  • Enertronics, Inc. (Blacksburg, VA): This team is developing a high-voltage, direct current (DC) power optimizer small enough to be built into a module’s junction box.
  • infiniRel Corporation (Santa Cruz, CA): This team developed a patented hardware/software system that monitors solar inverters while they’re operating to detect component deterioration as well as software control issues.
  • Maxout Renewables (Livermore, CA): This team developed a cost-effective system that turns a residential solar installation into a microgrid that can keep power on during a grid outage.
  • Pursuit Solar, LLC (Denver, NC): This team’s passive solar tracker enables panels to capture more solar energy without motors, controls, or external power. A small concentrating mirror system heats paraffin wax, which rotates the panels to track the sun when they’re properly positioned.
  • Renu Robotics Corporation (San Antonio, TX): This team is developing an autonomous electric lawnmower for utility-scale solar power plants that can maintain hundreds of acres a month without human interaction.
  • Shine Technologies, LLC (Portland, OR): This team is developing a small, lightweight, low-cost PV system with battery storage that can be stockpiled and deployed for emergency disaster relief.
  • TrackerSled (Chicago, IL): This team is developing a movable single-axis tracker solar array for farms that can be towed around rotating crop fields on its pontoon skis. The array’s mobility will help farmers rotate their cash crop and cover crop fields, improving soil health, income, and power generation.
  • Uplift Solar Corp. (Las Vegas, NV): This team is developing a chip that is both a direct-current converter and a maximum power point tracker that can be embedded in a module. It will have a microprocessor that enables power line communication, ensuring module compliance with code updates.
  • Verify Energy Inc. (Berkeley, CA): This team is developing a self-powered, easily installable, cellular data gateway to extract photovoltaic (PV) plant performance data from commercial and industrial scale PV plants.
  • Wattch, Inc. (Atlanta, GA): This team combines cost-effective hardware with secure, scalable software to deliver insights and increase operational efficiency for commercial and industrial PV plants. This will result in predictive maintenance schedules that lower downtime, improve remote and automated diagnostics, and better model a plant’s lifetime energy yield.

Later this fall, the finalists will present their proofs of concept during a live demo day. There, two winners will be selected to receive $500,000 in cash and up to $75,000 in vouchers to test and validate their prototypes. Read the SETO newsletters for updates on the final Round 3 demo day, and learn more about the American-Made Solar Prize.

Submissions for Round 4 of the competition are due October 8, 2020.

The prize is part of DOE’s American-Made Challenges, a series of prizes that incentivize the nation’s entrepreneurs to strengthen American leadership in energy innovation and domestic manufacturing.


Author: Dava Gives        Published: 6/29/2020          50Black Enterprise

Kristal Hansley, owner of WeSolar Energy

Kristal Hansley Founder & Chief Executive Officer

Image via WeSolar Energy/Alex McSwain

Solar energy is promised to be the new source of our power as we move into the future. It is important that as this new sector experiences rapid growth that we also work to make sure it is accessible to everyone and not just a select few. According to a recent PwC Global Power & Utilities Survey, 97% of utility executives across the globe expect a medium to high-level of disruption in their main home markets by 2020. Meet the Black woman making sure Black communities have access to solar power.

After extensive work in government, entrepreneur and advocate Kristal Hansley launched her community solar farm company, WeSolar Energy with the goal to provide underserved and underfunded communities access to solar energy. “During my time leading the Community Affairs policy at Congresswoman Eleanor Norton’s office, Maryland passed new laws to increase the use of solar energy across the state. I saw how effectively solar could reduce the cost of electricity for households, and decided to get involved in the emerging world of community solar,” said Hansley in an email interview with BLACK ENTERPRISE. 

“I started a position at Neighborhood Sun, a regional solar company in Maryland, as director of Government and Community Relations. After working with solar energy developers and city leadership in Baltimore helping thousands of low-to-moderate-income families save on their utility bills, I decided to launch my own company dedicated specifically to opening community solar farms in neighborhoods like Baltimore.”

Through her company, Hansley is able to build solar farms for communities to use on a local utility grid. “Customers can either subscribe to blocks of electricity or purchase a portion of the solar panels,” she explained. “Households [can] sign up at [our website] and Renewable Energy Credits are added to their electric bills from their allotted energy production.”

It was important to service communities in major cities where there are high populations of Black Americans who have always faced issues getting their fair share from local governments.

Baltimore and Camden are neighborhoods that have historically been under-resourced, and certainly left out of the green energy movement,” said Hansley. “Bringing solar farms to these neighborhoods means bringing community solar energy to communities that have not had it before. By signing up for WeSolar, the average household saves $250 a year and $6,000 over the course of 20 years, which is the average term life of solar panels. Especially in this current moment, with a pandemic-induced recession, these farms help to create economic resilience and alleviate economic uncertainty for those who have been historically marginalized.”

“The Community Solar model directly challenges the hundred-year-old monopoly where utility companies dominated the energy industry,” she said. “Community Solar guarantees clean energy to Black families at a steep discount for 20 years. The lifespan of the solar panels.”


WeSolar’s mission is to bring under-resourced communities affordable access to local community solar and to assist commercial properties with energy efficiency. WeSolar launched in Baltimore and will expand to other cities in the future. Through WeSolar, electricity consumers can purchase shared solar from a local project without having to install any equipment in their homes. In turn, residents save hundreds on their electricity bills. In Maryland, lawmakers passed legislation that states 50 percent of its electricity must come from renewable energy sources by 2030. The CEO, Kristal Hansley, and her team are disrupters who advocate that communities of color and low-income communities be included in this shift and have a healthy environment in the future.

WeSolar was founded by Kristal Hansley, an entrepreneur and advocate for the use of solar power to help hard-working families reduce monthly expenses.

Since her childhood growing up in Brooklyn, New York, Kristal has been passionate about serving the community and standing up for the rights of others. After graduating from Howard University in 2011, her growing expertise in diversity, equal housing, and access to education brought her to Capitol Hill. She first made her mark when she was honored as the 2010 Howard University Legislative Fellow, which led to her tenure in the U.S. Senate on the staff of Majority Leader Harry Reid.

In addition to serving as Program Manager for the Senate Democratic Diversity Initiative, she was Majority Leader Reid’s liaison to local, state, and federal officials, and national organizations. Later, Kristal continued her work empowering constituents with legislative support favorable to average citizens by heading up Community Affairs policy in the office of Congresswomen Elanor Norton.

During this time, the State of Maryland and others passed laws designed to increase the use of solar power while deregulating the market to give consumers more choices to meet their energy needs. Seeing the role that solar could play in reducing the cost of electricity for households, Kristal decided to get involved in the new but quickly growing business of sourcing energy from community solar providers as an alternative to the big utilities. For an explanation of how community solar works, click here.

Kristal’s experience gained on Capitol Hill was a perfect fit for her role as Director of Government and Community Relations for Neighborhood Sun, a regional solar company in Maryland. Working with solar energy developers and city leadership, she has helped thousands of low-to-moderate-income families save on their utility bills.

Following her entrepreneurial spirit once again, Kristal decided to leverage her knowledge in this emerging industry and launch WeSolar. Mentored by the leadership of Neighborhood Sun and with the support of solar energy providers, WeSolar was born!

From the moment the idea for WeSolar came to me, I was determined to make this a different kind of energy company – one that is dedicated to giving people control over their expenditures on electricity and offer them better value,” Kristal remembers. “We call ourselves the Green, Clean, Feel Good Energy Company because we truly care about the environment and were built from the ground up to serve the interests of consumers.”

Today, Kristal is the nation’s first African American Woman CEO in the community solar industry. Under her leadership We Solar is growing quickly, providing consumers across Maryland access to affordable solar energy, regardless whether they live in a house, apartment, condo, or mobile home. Soon millions of others can join them as the company rolls out their program throughout the mid-Atlantic.

In her spare time Kristal serves on the Steering Committee for the non-profit Baltimore People Climate Movement and the board of directors of Maryland Baptist Aged Home, Dads United Organization, and F.A.C.E. (Freedom Advocates Celebrating Ex-Offenders).

A long-time supporter of the arts, Kristal studied music from a young age, becoming a classically trained concert pianist and a mezzo-soprano opera singer.

Contact Us Email Us – info@WeSolar.energy Chat w/ us – (443) 818 . 9290

Solar Job Opportunities at the U.S. Department of Energy

Author: DOE Solar Energy Technologies Office  Published: 7/8/2020

Energy dot gov Office of Energy Efficiency and renewable energy

Solar Energy Technologies Office


Interested in being part of the future of solar energy? The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) has job openings. We are hiring federal supervisory general engineers/physical scientists to fill vacancies on two teams: concentrating solar-thermal power (GS-13 level) and systems integration (GS-13 or GS-14 level). Responsibilities include planning, budgeting, developing, implementing, managing, and evaluating initiatives; representing the office and presenting its mission and goals to industry stakeholders and government officials; and more.

Apply by July 17! You must submit a transcript demonstrating a physical science or engineering degree to meet the basic eligibility requirements.

This email was sent to info@positivechangepc.com on behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy · 1000 Independence Ave., SW · Washington DC 20585

Guilty Until Proven Innocent

Author: Craig Boyte       Published: 6/29/2020     New Frontier Data’s

The 2020 U.S. Energy & Employment Report

Author: American Council on Renewable  Energy    Published: 7/5/2020



Black America Must Read 27,000+ More Clean Energy Jobs Lost in May

Author: Acore                   Published: June 15,2020


WASHINGTON, D.C. – As Congress this week begins debating economic stimulus support for the energy industry, a new analysis of unemployment data shows the biggest part of America’s energy economy – clean energy – lost another 27,000 jobs in May, bringing the total number of clean energy workers who have lost their jobs in the past three months to more than 620,500.

While May saw an improvement in new unemployment claims over March and April, the findings represent the sector’s third straight month of significant job losses across solar, wind, energy efficiency, clean vehicles and other industries. With coronavirus cases once again rising in many states and companies beginning to run out of the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) funding that has helped small businesses keep workers employed, the report increases concerns the sector will be unable to resume its economy-leading jobs growth in the short- or long-term without a significant policy response.

Given the size and scope of the clean energy industry, such a sustained loss would cast a pall on the nation’s overall economic recovery, according to the analysis of the Department of Labor’s May unemployment data from E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs), E4TheFuture and the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE).

Prior to COVID-19, clean energy – including energy efficiency, solar and wind generation, clean vehicles and related sectors – was among the U.S. economy’s biggest and fastest-growing employment sectors, growing 10.4% since 2015 to nearly 3.4 million jobs at the end of 2019. That made clean energy by far the biggest employer of workers in all energy occupations, employing nearly three times as many people as the fossil fuel industry. For comparison, coal mining employs about 47,000 workers.

The latest monthly analysis for the groups by BW Research Partnership runs contrary to recent Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports, which indicated that a more robust economic rebound was underway while also acknowledging misclassifications and serious reporting difficulties in its own data.

Bob Keefe, Executive Director at E2, said:

“May’s almost 30,000 clean energy jobs loss is sadly an improvement in the rate of jobs shed but make no mistake: There remains huge uncertainty and volatility ahead. It will be very tough for clean energy to make up these continuing job losses without support from Congress. Lawmakers must act now. If they do, we can get hundreds of thousands of these workers back on the job today and build a better, cleaner, more equitable economy for tomorrow. And who doesn’t want that?”

Pat Stanton, Policy Director at E4TheFuture, said:

“Most of the time, energy efficiency workers need to go inside homes, businesses and other buildings to get the job done. Since they couldn’t do that during COVID lockdowns, they couldn’t work. Now states are opening up. But utilities, contractors and building owners need to protect employees and occupants from possible exposure to the virus and need more clarity about potential liabilities.”

Gregory Wetstone, President and CEO of ACORE, said:

“In May, we saw thousands of additional renewable energy workers join the ranks of the unemployed, further underscoring the damage COVID-19 is inflicting on our workforce. Since the pandemic began, nearly 100,000 renewable energy workers have lost their jobs. We need help from Congress to get American clean energy workers back to work. With commonsense measures like temporary refundability and a delay in the phasedown of renewable energy tax credits, Congress can help restore these good-paying jobs so the renewable sector can continue to provide the affordable, pollution-free power American consumers and businesses want and deserve.”

Phil Jordan, Vice President and Principal at BW Research Partnership, said:

“We understand the challenges and limitations of data collection for BLS in the middle of a global pandemic. But any suggestion that a strong employment rebound is underway in the United States simply is not reflected in the clean energy sector right now. And with PPP expiring, that only increases uncertainty in the months ahead.”

The report comes as both the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources and the House Energy and Commerce Committee are considering clean energy stimulus to restart the U.S. economy, and as lawmakers in both the House and Senate are increasing calls for supporting clean energy workers and businesses, including this bicameral letter signed by 57 members of Congress and another signed today by 180 House members.

Industries Hit Hardest

According to the analysis, energy efficiency lost more jobs than any other clean energy sector for the third consecutive month in May, shedding about 18,900 jobs. These workers include electricians, HVAC technicians who work with high-efficiency systems, and manufacturing employees who make Energy Star appliances, LED lighting systems and efficient building materials.

Renewable energy, including solar and wind, lost nearly 4,300 jobs in May.

Clean grid and storage and clean vehicles manufacturing — including grid modernization, energy storage, car charging and electric and plug-in hybrid vehicle manufacturing — lost a combined 3,200 jobs in May.

The clean fuels sector lost more than 650 jobs in May.


Sector March Claims (adj) April Claims (adj) May Claims Total
Energy Efficiency 103,298 309,584 18,880 431,762
Renewables 23,739 71,705 4,272 99,717
Clean Vehicles 11,399 35,070 2,059 48,528
Grid & Storage 6,517 19,666 1,166 27,349
Clean Fuels 2,186 10,390 657 13,233
INDUSTRY TOTAL 147,139 446,416 27,035 620,590


States and Localities Hit Across Country

California continues to be the hardest hit state in terms of total job losses, losing 4,313 jobs in May and more than 109,700 since the COVID-19 crisis began. Florida was the second hardest hit state in May, losing an additional 2,563 clean energy jobs, while Georgia, Texas, Washington, and Michigan all suffered more than 1,000 job losses across the sector. An additional 12 states saw at least 500 clean energy unemployment filings, according to the latest analysis.

For a full breakdown of clean energy job losses in each state, along with a list of the hardest hit counties and metro areas, see the full analysis here.


State March Claims (adj) April Claims (adj) May Claims Total Claims 
US TOTAL 147,139 446,416 27,035 620,590
California 27,583 77,815 4,313 109,712
Texas 5,965 25,170 1,709 32,844
Florida 3,963 25,949 2,563 32,475
Michigan 7,867 22,245 1,012 31,124
Georgia 1,909 25,282 1,741 28,932
North Carolina 9,124 17,138 955 27,217
Pennsylvania 8,283 12,780 571 21,634
Washington 5,646 14,433 1,163 21,242
New York 6,006 13,868 848 20,722
Ohio 6,929 12,879 612 20,420




The analysis expands on data from the 2020 U.S. Energy and Employment Report (USEER) produced by the Energy Futures Initiative (EFI) in partnership with the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO), using data collected and analyzed by the BW Research Partnership. The report was released in March 2020 and is available at www.usenergyjobs.org. E2 and E4TheFuture are partners on the annual USEER, the fifth installment of the energy survey first released by the Department of Energy in 2016 and subsequently abandoned under the Trump administration. 


Previous E2, E4TheFuture, ACORE Clean Energy Unemployment Reports


For policy recommendations from E2 on building America’s economy back better and faster through clean energy visit E2’s Build Back Better homepage.




Founded in 2001, the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) is the nation’s premier pan-renewable organization uniting finance, policy and technology to accelerate the transition to a renewable energy economy. For more information, please visit www.acore.org.


Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) is a national, nonpartisan group of business leaders, investors, and professionals from every sector of the economy who advocate for smart policies that are good for the economy and good for the environment. Our members have founded or funded more than 2,500 companies, created more than 600,000 jobs, and manage more than $100 billion in venture and private equity capital. For more information, see www.e2.org or follow us on Twitter at @e2org.


E4TheFuture works for clean, efficient and safe energy solutions. A nonprofit organization, we promote energy efficiency, renewables, demand management, energy storage and electric vehicles to advance climate protection and economic fairness. We work to achieve an energy economy that is sustainable, lower cost, and resilient. Our “Faces of EE” initiative shines a light on energy efficiency professionals nationwide. Visit www.E4TheFuture.org or follow us on Twitter at @E4TheFuture and @FacesofEE.


Media Contacts:

Alex Hobson — (202) 594-0706, hobson@acore.org

Michael Timberlake — (202) 289-2407, mtimberlake@e2.org

Alex Frank — (703) 276-3264, afrank@hastingsgroup.com

Carina Daniels — (510) 847-1617, carina@storyandreach.com

How this 23-year-old CEO turned her dorm room side hustle into a business bringing in $1 million

Author: Akilah Releford          Published: July 2, 2020      Make It Black

Akilah Releford is the founder and CEO of Mary Louise Cosmetics.

Akilah Releford is the founder and CEO of Mary Louise Cosmetics.
Courtesy Akilah Releford

My journey as a beauty entrepreneur started in my dorm room at Howard University. When I began college, my plan was to follow in my father’s footsteps and become a surgeon. But I soon discovered I wasn’t as excited about working on organic chemistry homework as I was about mixing up organic DIY skin-care recipes and sharing my creations with my floor mates.

One night in the fall of my junior year, I made a Twitter thread about my favorite beauty hacks and tips. I didn’t think anything of it, but when I woke up the next morning, it had gotten over 30,000 retweets. I had hundreds of direct messages from girls asking me about which products they could make at home.

That’s when I realized that my love of makeup wasn’t just a hobby — I could turn it into a business. Today, my vegan, organic, and cruelty-free skin care company, Mary Louise, is on track to generate $1 million dollars this year.

Like many companies, we were prompted to reevaluate our business model by the effects of Covid-19. We closed our Los Angeles retail location until further notice, for example. But we have successfully been able to pivot. In addition to our collections of serums, body butters and masks, we launched an affordable hand sanitizer and accompanying moisturizing soap, and we have seen our online sales dramatically increase.

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7 side hustles you can do while working full-time

My experience turning my side hustle into a fully fledged brand has helped me steer my company during this moment of uncertainty. If you’re looking to start a business right now, here are some of the lessons I have learned that still help me today.

High quality doesn’t have to mean expensive

From the start, I knew that I wanted to create high-quality products at an accessible price point, since my customer base at the time was made up of mostly college students. The first two products I sold at school were a $30 Miracle Serum and a $32 Mississippi Mud Mask. The ingredients were high-quality but easy to source, which kept my cost down, and made them more affordable for my peers. We still sell them today.

I used $600 I saved from my part-time retail job at Zara to buy my first batch of inventory and a domain name. In the very beginning, I worked with what I had. I taught myself how to create Facebook ads and Google shopping ads to start to reach new customers, and made a concerted effort not to go outside my budget.

I watched my personal spending carefully and cut back on things like girls’ trips and lunches out with my friends. But I was more than OK with sacrificing a few things if it meant that I could use those resources to help Mary Louise grow.

My website went live December of 2016 over winter break and I announced the launch on Twitter. We soon had a slow, but steady stream of sales coming in. In December and January, the company generated between $20,000 and $30,000 a month from those online sales.

I was thrilled, but I was still so preoccupied with school obligations that I actually decided to turn the website off during February and March of 2017.

In April, another round of exams came to an end, and I finally had more time to focus on the brand. So I turned the website back on and hoped that my customers would still be there. A week after I restarted the business, I received more orders in a single day than I got in that first two months months combined. It was as if those initial customers had been waiting to buy from us again, and they brought all of their friends with them.

Your collaborators may be closer than you think

I decided to name my company Mary Louise after my maternal and paternal grandmothers. Growing up, I was so inspired watching them use their own homemade remedies and natural recipes in their beauty and wellness routines. And fittingly, Mary Louise has been something of a family business since the beginning.

At first, in the dorm, I made micro-batches of products, 30 to 50 at a time. There really wasn’t much room to spread out to mass produce, so I worked with what I had. I ordered the raw materials online from organic/all-natural certified retailers who carried the specific oils and clays that I needed.

But that spring, it quickly became clear that I just didn’t have room for all of the inventory and packing materials I needed to fill all the orders. No one I knew had a car and lugging bags and boxes to the post office on the DC Metro didn’t seem like a sustainable plan. So my dad essentially volunteered to be my unofficial co-founder and temporary fulfillment center.

I realized that my love of makeup wasn’t just a hobby — I could turn it into a business.
Akilah Releford

For several weeks, while I finished up my spring semester, 3,000 miles away in Los Angeles, he used our home and his office to manufacture mud masks, serums, and cleanser. He cleaned and sterilized the containers and even labeled them by hand. Then he would organize the orders and have them ready to ship, dropping off about 100 orders a week to the post office.

To manufacture, label, and package a 100 orders in the same day would take maybe three to four hours, if you’re doing it by yourself. So my mom and little sister were always close by and helping out as well.

I’m so grateful that my family has always been so supportive of my entrepreneurial journey, so much so that they suggested that summer that I take a semester off to see how I could grow Mary Louise. They even helped me establish my LLC.

A semester turned into two years, and I’ve never looked back.

Building a community will see you through tough times

When I started Mary Louise, I had 1,000 Twitter followers. Today, the company has nearly 12,000 on Instagram. From the beginning, I had an audience on social media that I was able to grow organically by interacting with them and posting DIY skincare tips that anyone could use. It was a low-cost but effective way to build a loyal customer base.

When I introduced a product, I knew I would already have thousands of potentially interested buyers. And creating the space for an authentic audience to flourish is something I try my best to do today.

Building a solid community around you and your brand is invaluable. They will root for you, especially when you have to pivot.

Building a solid community around you and your brand is invaluable. They will root for you, especially when you have to pivot.
Akilah Releford

When Covid-19 first started affecting business across the country, I immediately thought about ways we could adapt. We wanted to launch a new, affordable product with the resources we already had in stock, that could help our community at the same time. Thanks to a suggestion from my surgeon dad, we quickly launched a hand sanitizer spray formulated from one of our aftershave products, which has a heavy alcohol base.

We made a 2-ounce hand sanitizer spray and gel that retails for $6. And our customers have stuck with us, and continued to tell their friends.

To date, we’ve sold around 1,000 units online and 2,000 units in our retail space, before all nonessential businesses closed. We also developed essential oil hand and body soaps to go with our hand sanitizers to help our customers to keep their hands clean and moisturized at the same time. We have donated proceeds from each unit sold to several Covid-19 relief funds.

And despite all the uncertainty, we are still on track to generate $1 million in revenue this year.

This moment has taught me a lot. As an entrepreneur, you try to plan out ahead as much as possible, but the reality is this: You never know what the next day will bring. But creating a loyal community and trying your best to be as resilient as possible during times of adversity can put you ahead of the curve.

Akilah Releford is an entrepreneur, skin-care enthusiast, and founder of Mary Louise Cosmetics, a clean beauty brand that BuzzFeed has voted #1 in “21 Life-Changing Beauty Products You Should Try in 2019.”

The article “23-year-old CEO: How I Made a Dorm Room Side Hustle Into a Business Bringing in $1 Million” originally published on Grow + Acorns.

Broad Energy Industry Coalition Encourages PJM to Continue to Examine Carbon Pricing in its Electricity Market

Author: Monique Hanis   Published: 6/30/2020          AEE

Screen Shot 2020-06-30 at 10.02.42 AM-1

June 30, 2020 Washington D.C. – As U.S. policymakers look for cost-effective ways to tackle climate change, a diverse coalition of power generators, trade associations, and think tanks last week sent a letter encouraging PJM to continue its examination of the policy options and implications of carbon pricing in its market. The request comes at a time when many states in PJM either have, or are considering, policies that reduce carbon emissions in the electric sector and are grappling with how best to reconcile those policies with wholesale markets.

As states consider policy levers to reduce carbonemissions and integrate cleaner power generation technology, carbon pricing can be a powerful, efficient, and cost-effective tool to drive down emissions and help achieve state goals, while preserving the economic benefits of competitive wholesale electricity markets.

The request does not recommend that PJM integrate a carbon price into its market at this time, or the specific method by which it could do so in the future. Rather, in light of the continued and heightened focus by states in the PJM market on reducing carbon emissions from power generation, the letter emphasizes the importance of PJM continuing its efforts to consider integrating carbon pricing in its market and exploring the practical, technical, and implementation issues related to how PJM’s markets can potentially account for state policy through carbon pricing.

The letter’s full list of signatories: Advanced Energy EconomyAmerican Council on Renewable EnergyAmerican Wind Energy AssociationApex Clean EnergyAztec SolarBayWa r.e. Solar ProjectsClearway Energy Group,  Competitive Power VenturesCypress Creek RenewablesDelaware Division of the Public AdvocateEastern Generation, EcoplexusEDF RenewablesEDP Renewables North AmericaEnel North AmericaENGIE North AmericaFirst SolarInvenergyLightsource BPNatural Gas Supply AssociationOrsted North AmericaPine Gate RenewablesRecurrent EnergyR Street InstituteRWE Renewables AmericasSkyline RenewablesSolar Energy Industries AssociationSouthern Current, and Vistra Energy.


DC Budget Update: Affordable Housing and Homelessness


The Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless

We are happy to see that the DC Council made some new investments in affordable housing programs in the first stage of budget decisions last week. But the DC Council needs to do so much more to get us to a #JustRecoveryDC. DC had a preexisting affordable housing crisis that is about to get much worse as a result of the global pandemic and economic recession. Many experts estimate that homelessness will increase 40-45% nationwide. A lack of safe housing and shelter combined with longstanding disparities have resulted in people experiencing homelessness being most impacted by COVID-19: 315 positive cases and 20 dead in DC.

Nearly 9/10 people experiencing homelessness in DC are Black. We urge the Council to prevent harm from occurring to Black people, not just mourn it after harm occurs. That includes preventing homelessness, ending homelessness, investing in deeply affordable permanent housing, and diverting money from programs that hurt Black DC residents. Read our statement on systemic racism and white supremacy here.

Check out the status of the Legal Clinic’s highest priority asks for the FY 2021 budget below. (Further background on our budget asks can be found here.)

Place People in Hotels, Dorms and Housing to Prevent COVID-19 Transmission

Ask: Fully fund a requirement that DC offer each person experiencing homelessness a noncongregate placement until a vaccine is widely available or the pandemic is over #WhatHomeDC

Status: No progress.

Eviction Prevention

Ask: Increase the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) by at least $12 million (M) and develop an expanded eviction prevention program (#CancelTheRent).

Status: DC Council restored Mayor’s $1.115M cut plus added $150,000.

Remaining need: At least $12M for ERAP.

End Family Homelessness

The Mayor only added 54 affordable housing slots for families in Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH). This means that only 2% of Rapid Re-housing (RRH) families would have a longterm subsidy to exit to. The rest are likely to cycle back into homelessness. The Department of Human Services (DHS) is starting up RRH time limit terminations in July.

Ask: 1) Require a moratorium on RRH time limit terminations in FY20 and 21 to allow families to have a shot at getting employment and recovering from the public health emergency.

2) Add $17.39M to Targeted Affordable Housing (TAH) vouchers for 712 families.

3) Add $10.42M for 500 LRSP tenant vouchers.

Status: No progress.

End Chronic Homelessness

The Mayor only funded PSH for 96 individuals and 54 families who are chronically homeless.

Ask: Fund PSH for 1404 individuals and 248 families.

Status: The Council has increased PSH for 50 individuals. No progress on families.

Remaining need: PSH for 1354 individuals, 248 families.

Invest in Re-entry Housing Pilot

Ask: $1.8M per year for a Re-entry Housing Pilot, including services, for 50 people.

Status: $1M funded

Remaining need: $800,000.

Build Deeply Affordable Housing

Ask: 1) $130M in Housing Production Trust Fund (HPTF) for households making 0-30% Area Median Income (AMI).

2) $24M in project/sponsor-based Local Rent Supplement Program (LRSP).

3) Better target the property tax abatement to the creation of affordable housing available to people with incomes below 50% of AMI.

Status: Committee added $9M to HPTF, meaning $4.5M for 0-30% AMI housing.

Remaining need: $125.5M for HPTF, $24M for project/sponsor based LRSP.

Repair Public Housing

The Mayor put $25M into FY21 and $15M into FY22 for public housing repairs.

Ask: 1) $60M/year

2) Include protections from the Public Housing Preservation and Tenant Protection Amendment Act of 2020 in the Budget Support Act.

Status: The Council added $376,000 to the public housing repairs fund.

Remaining need: $34.6M in FY21, $45M in FY22, and $60M in subsequent fiscal years.


To fund these critical needs, the Legal Clinic supports:

  1. Decreasing the police budget;
  2. Diverting money from Rapid Re-housing to permanent housing for families;
  3. Diverting $127M from the Streetcar to public housing repairs;
  4. Diverting $5.4M in Streetcar PayGo funds to ERAP;
  5. Diverting future years of the K Street Transit Project to public housing repairs;
  6. Increasing taxes on the wealthy;
  7. Closing tax loopholes; and
  8. Reforming DC’s tax code to both raise revenue and further economic and racial justice. (See here for more details.)

We cannot understate the amount of work the Council has to do before its first vote on this budget next week. As the budget stands right now, it doesn’t even meet the needs for a “normal” year. However, this year certainly isn’t normal for DC residents. It’s much worse. We hope that Councilmembers follow Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie’s lead and refuse to support an unjust budget: “If, after these protests subside, we don’t see meaningful change w/ actual policies that go along w/ funding & commitments, then it’s not real justice & I won’t be prepared to support it.”

What can you do?

  1. Contact your Councilmembers before Tuesday, July 7 (the first vote), and ask them to make sure that these programs are fully funded.
  2. Don’t forget to contact Chairman Mendelson (pmendelson@dccouncil.us), whose voice carries significant weight in these decisions.
  3. Join us on Monday, July 6th, for a Black Homes Matter rally that the Legal Clinic is co-hosting from 3-6PM on Freedom Plaza.

Search Results Web results The 2% Solution: Inside Billionaire Robert Smith’s Bold Plan

Author: Nathan Vardi    Published: 6/30/2020        Forbes

The 2% Solution: Inside Billionaire Robert Smith’s Bold Plan To Funnel Billions To America’s Black-Owned Businesses

The nation’s wealthiest Black investor says the best way to begin to reverse Corporate America’s history of structural racism is for big banks and large companies to spend the next ten years investing directly in banking, telecom, technology, education and healthcare infrastructure to benefit the Black community.

Robert F. Smith, the private equity billionaire who is the nation’s richest Black person, said on Thursday that large corporations should use 2% of their annual net income for the next decade to empower minority communities. Smith made the comments after circulating a plan among CEOs that first calls on big banks to capitalize the financial institutions that service Black-owned businesses and minority-run entrepreneurial ventures.

In a keynote address he gave at the Forbes 400 Summit on Philanthropy, Smith, 57, said Black and minority communities have been abandoned by large banks and are starved of the capital needed to build businesses and local institutions. Smith argued that pumping in what he described as “reparative” capital and investing directly in financial architecture would be a fast way to advance economic justice for Black Americans.

“Nowhere is structural racism more apparent than in corporate America,” Smith said. “If you think about structural racism and access to capital, 70% of African American communities don’t even have a branch, bank of any type.”

In recent days, Smith, whose net worth is estimated to be $5 billion, has been sharing a concrete plan with the nation’s business leaders that argues that an investment equal to 2% of net income over the next decade would be a small step toward restoring equity and mobility in America. He has implied that America’s big corporations should feel compelled to support such a plan given the exclusionary practices of many industries over several decades. Smith made the case that the average American household charitably donates 2% of its income annually and is asking corporate America to do the same.

During the pandemic, Smith discovered the structural racism in banking firsthand as he tried to help Black businesses and banks that serve Black communities obtain Paycheck Protection Program loans. Smith found that Black-owned businesses faced numerous structural obstacles and as a result had trouble accessing the emergency financing being provided by the federal government through the banking sector.

“Nowhere is structural racism more apparent than in corporate America,” Smith said. “If you think about structural racism and access to capital, 70% of African American communities don’t even have a branch, bank of any type.”

In recent days, Smith, whose net worth is estimated to be $5 billion, has been sharing a concrete plan with the nation’s business leaders that argues that an investment equal to 2% of net income over the next decade would be a small step toward restoring equity and mobility in America. He has implied that America’s big corporations should feel compelled to support such a plan given the exclusionary practices of many industries over several decades. Smith made the case that the average American household charitably donates 2% of its income annually and is asking corporate America to do the same.

During the pandemic, Smith discovered the structural racism in banking firsthand as he tried to help Black businesses and banks that serve Black communities obtain Paycheck Protection Program loans. Smith found that Black-owned businesses faced numerous structural obstacles and as a result had trouble accessing the emergency financing being provided by the federal government through the banking sector.

Smith thinks the federal government could supercharge the effort by leveraging up the provided capital with the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility the Federal Reserve established to support consumer and business credit during the pandemic.

“The deprivation of capital is one of the areas that creates a major problem to the enablement of the African American community,” Smith told the more than 200 top philanthropists who attended the 9th annual Forbes philanthropy summit, which this year was held on Zoom. “The first thing to do is put capital into those branch banks to lend to these small businesses to actually create an opportunity set . . . drive it into these small businesses, which employs 60%-plus of African Americans.”

Smith envisions the nation’s banking sector could provide billions of dollars of capital to Black-owned banks and community development banks, with some of the funds used to digitize these lenders.

In a way, Smith is proposing a private sector solution to reparations, the idea that the federal government pay financial compensation to Black Americans who are the descendants of slaves. Smith believes Black communities have experienced systemic inequality and exclusion in corporate sectors beyond finance, including healthcare, telecommunications and technology. The net income of the biggest U.S. companies in just those sectors was $1.3 trillion combined over the last decade and 2% of those profits, or some $25 billion, could be used to do things like strengthen healthcare infrastructure in minority communities, equalize broadband access, fund STEM education at historically Black colleges and digitize minority small businesses.

Through his plan, Smith envisions the nation’s banking sector could, over the next ten years, provide billions of dollars of capital to Black-owned banks and community development banks, with some of the funds used to digitize these lenders. His plan calls for the telecom and tech sectors to provide money to help prepare 180,000 students at America’s historically Black colleges for the jobs of the future, and to digitize one million minority small businesses.

Smith, who has an engineering degree from Cornell University, is the founder of Vista Equity Partners, the nation’s biggest private equity firm specializing in software transactions. Part of Vista’s stunning success has been built on Smith’s detailed and secret playbook for running software companies, which has helped Vista achieve some of the private equity industry’s best financial returns.

Now, Smith believes his playbook for economic justice could not only ensure Black Americans have better access to opportunity, but also increase the nation’s economic activity by more than $1 trillion annually.

“I think that will show Americans there is hope, there is an opportunity for the American dream to now be revitalized,” Smith said on Thursday. “And frankly, to give us all confidence that we can actually make this a better country and a better place to live.”


Amazon Launches US$2 Billion Climate Pledge Fund Amid Reputation Crisis

Authyor: Sally Ho         Published: 6/29/2020         Green Queen

Amazon has just announced a US$2 billion for a new Climate Pledge Fund dedicated to sustainable technologies and services that will help the e-commerce giant achieve net-zero carbon emissions in its operations by 2040. It comes on the heels of its CEO Jeff Bezos’ Earth Fund, which did little to allay widespread criticism over the company’s questionable commitments to sustainability. The tech firm has also been facing another reputation crisis due to its lack of workers’ protections during the coronavirus pandemic.

Online retail and tech giant Amazon announced a US$2 billion investment in a new Climate Pledge Fund, which aims to foster environmentally-friendly technologies that will enable the firm to reach carbon-neutral status by 2040. The fund will be led by Matt Peterson on Amazon’s corporate development team and Kara Hurst, the firm’s sustainability chief.

The Seattle-headquartered company said the investment will “back visionary companies whose products and services will facilitate the transition to a zero-carbon economy”.

The Climate Pledge was created by Amazon last year in partnership with London-based impact enterprise Global Optimism. Other companies that have signed onto the pledge include Indian tech consultancy Infosys and U.S. telecom behemoth Verizon.

In the announcement, founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said that the fund will be accepting applications for grants from all types of companies across different industries, including transportation, logistics, energy, circular economy and food tech.

“Each prospective investment will be judged on its potential to accelerate the path to zero carbon and help protect the planet for future generations,” said Bezos in a statement.

While a sizable sustainability pledge, Amazon has long been criticised for its significant role in driving the climate crisis, from partnering with some of the world’s largest polluters such as dirty energy firm ExxonMobil via its Amazon Web Services arm to fuelling one-click overconsumption and convenience culture.

In an attempt to alleviate some of the pressure the company has faced regarding its tainted climate record, Bezos announced earlier this year that he would commit US$10 billion of his personal wealth to an Earth Fund – representing a fraction of his enormous US$130 billion net worth at the time (which has ballooned to US$145 billion since the pandemic).

But his personal pledge, as well as Amazon’s most recent US$2 billion sustainable investment, still falls short to make up for its anti-climate reputation – particularly after the company had terminated employees for speaking out against the company’s lucrative dealings with fossil fuel firms and irresponsible environmental behaviour.

To add to the history of questionable commitments to environmental protection, the wasteful operations of Amazon’s e-commerce retail arm is hardly evidence of championing sustainability.

Amazon’s reputation over the past few weeks has been further shrouded due to claims over poor working conditions, lack of hazardous pay and inadequate protections for its warehouse workers during the pandemic, despite the fact that Bezos’ personal fortune has benefited immensely since the  boost in online sales from consumers on lockdown.

The firm’s failed internal response for its frontline workers made headlines in May, when Tim Bray, an engineer and vice-president at Amazon’s Web Services arm, made a high-profile exit from the company. In his post explaining his resignation, Bray called the firings of activist organisers at the company “chickenshit”, and said that Amazon’s decisions were “designed to create a climate of fear”.