Next Street has been on a journey to promote diversity, equity and inclusion since our founding, both through our external work and our internal practices. We are proud of the progress that we’ve made and the work that we’ve done to foster racial equity. However, recent events have confirmed that our work is only beginning and that we need to do more to support our employees, our clients and the communities of color we serve. Read the rest of our statement on being an Anti-Racist Institution here.

Our Commitment

Next Street is still early in its commitment to being an anti-racist organization and we are always learning, but we are excited to share our early stage commitments towards our anti-racist agenda.

To date, we have implemented the following changes:

  • Launched an Inclusive Impact Committee, which has released a resource guide on common language and definitions and launched channels for employees to provide anonymous feedback to leadership
  • Provided Next Street Employees with an additional two days off annually to volunteer to combat racial equity
  • Hired an outside firm to deliver our annual anti-bias and anti-racist training

Going forward, we will hold ourselves accountable to the following additional commitments:

  • Through a third-party firm and an internal audit, Next Street will complete a thorough audit of the firm’s practices, suppliers, and communications
  • Next Street will direct more spend and commit more resources to People of Color
  • Next Street will deliver grants to BIPOC-owned businesses using 5% of profits
  • We will make our offices representative our anti-racist commitment, including expanding the racial, gender, and experiential diversity of our current Board of Managers

Our commitment does not end here. We will continue to evaluate and update our initiatives.

Our Work

Over the years, Next Street has worked with thought-leading organizations that are breaking down barriers to create a more inclusive economy. Here is a sampling of our work that has included a racial equity lens. To learn more about any of these projects or others in our portfolio, please contact us.

Developed a racial equity agenda to support two business lines in driving more equitable social impact

Assessed the current state of diverse leaders and organizations in the non-profit sector, identifying the unique challenges faced by Black and Latinx non-profit leaders – read the report here

Created a business plan for a new organization that would create pathways for Chicago’s workers of color to enter the construction industry and enable opportunity for Chicago’s minority-owned construction businesses

Worked with South Side Chicago stakeholders to understand neighborhood-level planning efforts and ensure that development surrounding the Obama Presidential Center benefits local residents

Supported the Business Equity Initiative, a $10 million commitment to driving the growth of enterprises of color

Conducted a procurement assessment and developed and delivered a training program to support high-potential diverse suppliers

Conducted a small business ecosystem assessment and made recommendations on how the City can support Columbus’ small businesses, particularly those owned by women and People of Color – read the report here

Developed a plan to launch four Economic Mobility Centers in Tarrant County, TX that support entrepreneurs of color and their families

Conducted an economic impact study to recommend what role World Business Chicago could play in supporting creative entrepreneurs of color in underserved neighborhoods across Chicago – learn more here

Our Publications

Racial Equity Resources

Our team is always learning. We’d like to share some of the resources we’ve gathered related to racial equity and small business. While no list is exhaustive and the learning process is continuous, we hope this list can provide additional perspectives for how racism affects the small business community.