CLARKSDALE, MS - July 24, 2019 -- 50 years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. visited one of the poorest towns in the Mississippi Delta, Marks, which is about 18 miles away from the city of Clarksdale, to understand the challenges of black residents living in poverty. After learning about the harsh conditions throughout the region, Dr. King took it upon himself to launch an economic justice initiative that would bring change to not only our state but the United States.
Unfortunately, the racial wealth gap across the country continues to grow, especially here in the deep south. Mississippi has over 1 million Black residents with over 33% living below the poverty level according to the 2017 Census.
Higher Purpose Co (HPC) was birthed from the opportunity and perseverance in the Mississippi Delta. Therefore, we organized ourselves around solutions and started HPC in 2016 in Clarksdale which has now evolved into a 501c3 economic justice agency focused on addressing the racial wealth gap in our state.
Our work is rooted in working with black residents to build community wealth defined by HPC as the collective ownership of financial, cultural, and political power.
The community wealth framework has helped us co-create programming focusing on asset building, narrative change, and advocacy. Over the last few years, we have worked deeply in the area of business ownership because we understand how creating a viable business can provide generational wealth.
Statement by Tim Lampkin, CEO of Higher Purpose Co:
“We are excited to announce three historic initiatives totaling $500,000 in grant support specifically designated to Black entrepreneurs across Mississippi to launch, thrive, and sustain their business. HPC uses the term Black entrepreneurs to include worker owners, farmers, artists, and creatives.
The first initiative is the Higher Purpose Business Fellowship Program. It is a six-month cohort-based program for Black-owned businesses and cooperatives who specializes in food and agriculture, health and wellness, education and tourism. The business fellows will receive training, access to capital, and mentorship.
Our second initiative is the Higher Purpose Funding Network which provides capital matchmaking, application packaging, and customized business growth support for black entrepreneurs in Mississippi.
The third initiative is the Higher Purpose Institute for Community Wealth which will focus on community education, narrative change, and advocacy.
These initiatives are financially supported by the Surdna Foundation, Walton Family Foundation, Silicon Valley Community Foundation, Solidago Foundation, Fund for Democratic Communities, Working World and private donors. HPC is also partnering with RSF Finance, Pro Literacy, BALLE, and the Rensselaerville Institute. Our organization has expanded to have a full-time team of six employees and plans to hire at least two more key staff by 2020 while also actively recruiting from Coahoma Community College for our paid internship program.
The work of HPC is critical to addressing the economic conditions throughout the state of Mississippi. It is our vision to continue implementing innovative solutions to create systemic change.”