We did it! When we unite, we win.

Greetings and Happy New Year!

As I reflect on the events of 2020, I experience a myriad of emotions. Many people, if not most people, lived a year of extreme transformation and uncertainty. And although I cannot help but to be moved by the loss and the fervent outcries from a fractured America, I am overwhelmingly idealistic about the future and all the work we have left to do. I am truly grateful to have an awe-inspiring community and many support networks that I know will step up and continue to step up as we advance into this new year. I am full of optimism and renewed hope that we can come together as one world and treat all our brothers and sisters with equity and kindness. That is what 2021 has in store for us.

As a Black female business owner, I’ve always been keenly aware of the disparities that existed for me, yet when Covid-19 hit, America showed us it was bigger than a disparity. And when George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery’s names joined the long list of Black Americans murdered, it was clear that racism was still a prevalent disease in our society that left many within the Black community with nowhere to turn. While reeling from the Black experience of seeing our community die at disproportionate rates during Covid-19, toppled with the murder of innocent Black citizens by those who are here to protect and serve, it became clear that all Americans were not in this together. And while the rallying cry “we are all in this together” seemed to appear everywhere around me, the painful truth had shaken our entire nation to its core. That’s why I founded GEDDI. GEDDI is not a want for the Black community, it’s a necessity. It is our responsibility as Americans to ensure we all have a source to which we can turn when systems in our society are not designed equally for everyone.

GEDDI will celebrate its first anniversary this year on July 28th. In our first five months we have been building our infrastructure, policies, and fundraising strategy in preparation to launch our Remediation of Justice (ROI) endowment fund. We have honed our mission, hired a small but dedicated staff, and established an exceptional founding board of directors. We have taken all the necessary steps to breathe life into our organization and its mission, and now we are ready to do the hard work of creating change and opportunity in our community, our state, and our world.
Throughout the month of October, GEDDI partnered with Fund For the Arts, Greater Louisville Inc, and the Louisville Downtown Partnership to create Tearing Down the Walls Together: a 28-day road to healing and collaboration in Downtown Louisville in which local artists memorialized this historic period through visual and literary art on boards that served as barricades to potential violence.

In mid-October, the GEDDI Membership Portal launched and since then we have been slowly but surely building our database of corporations, community organizations, non-profits, and individuals that believe in our vision. Within the portal, members have access to our job board to post and seek employment, our learning center (GEDDI University) with continuing education courses available, and a network of like-minded people who are willing to stand up for change and embrace it.

In November, we struck a partnership with the Louisville Independent Business Alliance (LIBA) and kicked off our Welcome campaign and Welcoming Businesses Directory to allow local businesses to align with our values and the values of our membership base. By displaying a recognizable decal in their establishments, business owners in Louisville are now making known their assertion that all people are welcome within their businesses and organizations regardless of the color of their skin.

Since our conception this past summer, we have continued the Derby Diversity & Business Summit, and although this last conference was virtual, we celebrated diverse businesses as PivotChamps for prevailing through the worst pandemic in recent history. Other community engagement initiatives that have emerged from our programming include Black Health in Focus and Women of Color & White Women Against Racism (WOC & WWAR) – a silent, by-invitation-only group of Black and white women bridging cultures and advocating against discrimination.

We have established economic empowerment programs like: The Black Complex, a 12-month incubator to establish a co-working space for which we acquired a $50,000 match donation by Gill and Augusta Holland; The Collective, a business accelerator for Black-led event organizers creating a new cultural event concept for Louisville called The Black Harvest, with proceeds benefitting the GEDDI corpus; and the Just Boss Up Academy - another business accelerator to help future Black business-owners get “buttoned up” and prepared to open their own successful business. The Black Fashion Exchange is another program that is helping to reshape the fashion retail landscape by giving talented fashion entrepreneurs the tools they need to break into the industry and create their own wealth.
As you can see, in just five short months we have been able to not only begin building what seemed impossible, but we are thriving because of the spirit of people and organizations in our community – people like you who understand the need for racial equity and economic justice for all, not just some. And together we will continue to thrive because we truly are stronger together. Of course, we still have a long way to go in creating and fostering the racial equity our nation and community needs to heal, but when community partners like Churchill Downs, The PepsiCo Foundation, Brown-Forman, LG&E, and Amplify Louisville recognize GEDDI to be a trusted steward over community dollars, it not only makes a big impression on the program recipients, but it places us one step closer to other community leaders recognizing the need to diversify their giving in order to spur new economic activity within the eco-system.

Thank you for a powerful 2020 by stepping up, being bold, saying things of consequence, and changing the world with your words! You are the reason we continue to believe that we all can transform our world one story at a time. For those of you who have been in our rooms, you have witnessed the brilliance, passion, purpose, and diversity of thought and expression that make our workshops and fellowships impactful. As we move into 2021, we recognize that our nation is at a pivotal moment of transformation. We want to drive that transformation by being a catalyst for positive advancement and necessary shifts in our national conversations.

GEDDI is more committed than ever to reaching and supporting the voices and thought leadership of those who are the farthest from justice. Your contributions help us expand our programs’ reach, increase our scholarship offerings, and build the first endowment in Kentucky that lives on in perpetuity serving Black business and the non-profit community. These are but the first steps toward a more equitable future and I am truly thankful for your support as we continue this journey together.

With sincerest gratitude,

Tawana Bain
GEDDI Founder and Chairwoman of the Board