Diversity & Inclusion
November 4, 2021

Wells Fargo gives $2 million to support entrepreneurship and small businesses in Los Angeles and Phoenix

CEO Charlie Scharf announced the gifts that will support entrepreneurship education and provide assistance to Black-owned and other diverse-owned businesses.

Charlie Scharf stands at a podium at the Los Angeles Urban League press event.
Wells Fargo CEO Charlie Scharf presents Michael Lawson, president of the Los Angeles Urban League, with a $1 million gift for the nonprofit.
“This grant is evidence of the substantial and long-standing relationship between the Los Angeles Urban League and Wells Fargo." — Michael Lawson, president and CEO of LAUL

In October, Wells Fargo CEO Charlie Scharf announced two $1 million grants to nonprofit organizations working to foster small business growth and entrepreneurship in the COVID-19 recovery. The grants were made to the Los Angeles Urban League and the Phoenix-based Maricopa Community Colleges Foundation.

The grants build on the company’s July 2020 launch of the Open for Business Fund to deliver roughly $420 million in grants to nonprofits that provide support for small businesses, with a particular focus on diverse-owned small businesses. Through the third quarter of 2021, Wells Fargo has fulfilled $305 million of its initial commitment, helping nearly 150,000 small business owners maintain more than 250,000 jobs.

Los Angeles Urban League: A century of service

Since 1921, the Los Angeles Urban League, or LAUL, has worked to promote economic empowerment through education and job training, housing and community development, workforce development, entrepreneurship, health, and quality of life. The $1 million funding will contribute to LAUL’s efforts to promote economic empowerment in Los Angeles County through its Entrepreneurship Center and other programs.

”We’ve seen the positive impact the Los Angeles Urban League’s Entrepreneurship Center and small business programs have had on the Los Angeles community, and we are proud to help expand that impact,” Scharf said in a joint press conference held with LAUL.

 “This grant is evidence of the substantial and long-standing relationship between the Los Angeles Urban League and Wells Fargo,” said Michael Lawson, president and CEO of LAUL. “We appreciate this sizable grant, because it demonstrates Wells Fargo believes in not only the work that the Los Angeles Urban League is doing, but the impact that this will have on the communities that we serve.”

Charlie Scharf stands at a podium at the Los Angeles Urban League press event.
Tony Jolly stands smiling at a podium with microphones in front of him.
Colorful signs reading
Nine people are seen sitting around a square conference table with papers and bottles of water in front of them.
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey stands next to Wells Fargo CEO Charlie Scharf at a press conference.

“We want to help people meet their needs, we want businesses to grow, and, most importantly, we want to strengthen communities,” said Scharf in Los Angeles.

Tony Jolly is the owner of Hot and Cool Café in Los Angeles. The Hot and Cool Café hosted the joint LAUL/Wells Fargo press conference and has participated in the LAUL’s entrepreneurship programs.

Wells Fargo commissioned artists to design “Open” signs as part of its Open for Business Fund campaign. Scharf gave signs to business owners he visited in Los Angeles and to roundtable participants in Phoenix.

Scharf and leaders from nine nonprofit organizations discussed efforts to address critical community needs in Arizona and across the country.

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey joined Scharf at the Phoenix event to discuss small business recovery and growth in Arizona.

Following the press conference, Scharf visited with small business owners in the Leimert Park neighborhood, the historic center of African American culture in Los Angeles. The businesses he visited — each of which has benefited from LAUL’s or Wells Fargo’s support — were Ride On Bike Shop & Co-Op, a worker-owned co-op that provides space, tools, and equipment to teach people how to fix their bikes; Sole Folks, a retail space and incubator for creative entrepreneurs; and the Hot and Cool Café, a social enterprise working to ensure its community has access to healthy food, regardless of circumstance.

Advancing entrepreneurship in Phoenix

In Phoenix, Scharf awarded a $1 million grant to Maricopa Community Colleges Foundation to advance entrepreneurship in the Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD). The grant was announced at a roundtable discussion with Phoenix-based nonprofits at the Center for Entrepreneurial Innovation, a business incubator run by MCCCD. The roundtable, which Scharf facilitated, was focused on small business growth and recovery efforts in Arizona, the Southwest, and nationally. Six of the nine organizations participating in the discussion were recipients of Wells Fargo Open for Business grants. Arizona Governor Doug Ducey visited with grant recipients just prior to the roundtable.

The MCCCD grant is focused on uplifting economically disadvantaged and diverse-owned small businesses, as well as students of color pursuing business and entrepreneurial studies at the Maricopa Community Colleges.

“Wells Fargo’s generosity is helping to build a more inclusive and sustainable future for all,” said Dr. Steven Gonzales, interim chancellor of MCCCD. “The pandemic has heaped layers of challenges upon the business community, and Wells Fargo is working to support an inclusive and sustainable economic recovery for their customers, employees, and communities.”