Following the success of the Keep Our Shops on the Block grant earlier this year, which deployed financial aid to 481 small brick-and-mortar businesses in the retail and personal care sector, the Local Initiatives Support Corporation Los Angeles (LISC LA) has expanded the program and the services offered and launched an invite-only digital literacy accelerator for diverse-owned businesses. The virtual accelerator program is designed to help Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) owned small businesses in the personal care, retail and food industries utilize digital technology towards business growth. This program was made possible through the Together for LA partnership and the generosity of Wells Fargo.  

The Digital Accelerator Program inaugural cohort will consist of 24 local businesses and will run from October 18 through December 10, 2021. At no cost to the participants, each business will have the opportunity to access digital growth strategy plans, one-on-one advising support, networking events and more through a customized program. 

“Having a strong online presence has been essential to the survival of small businesses, but many have been left behind, said Tunua Thrash-Ntuk, Executive Director of LISC LA. “LISC LA is proud to work with our Together for LA partners to expand the Keep our Shops on the Block program and provide our local diverse-owned small businesses with the digital resources and tools to succeed.”   

LISC LA will operate the virtual accelerator program under the Together for LA initiative – a strategic partnership with the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC), The Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, The Dr. Lucy Jones Center for Science and Society, The Institute for Sustainable Development, the City of Los Angeles and the County of Los Angeles – to strengthen women and diverse-owned businesses impacted financially from the COVID-19 pandemic. This collaborative effort, which aims to provide no cost technical assistance and small business resources, was made possible through the support of Wells Fargo.  

The Center for Innovation, Excellence and Leadership (IXL Center), which specializes in management consulting and capacity building, will be working with LISC LA to drive the program forward over the next 6 weeks. The IXL Center helps businesses build up their organizations through advisory, coaching, workshops, speeches, and training that are customized to achieve innovation and growth.  

For many Angelenos, the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated a growing divide between small, brick-and-mortar businesses and the e-commerce sector. LISC LA and its Together for LA partners are dedicated to helping diverse business owners adapt to a more digital world and economy – ensuring an equitable road to recovery.  

“Being a native Angeleno with a retail shop in the heart of Los Angeles this LISC LA accelerator is the dream program I’ve been waiting for,” said Rheena Mae, CEO of MaeMae Jewelry, one of the businesses in the inaugural cohort. “I have so many aspirations of expanding the love, good juju and reach of MaeMae that I feel this cohort can help me make a reality!” 

For more information on the Keep our Shops on the Block Digital Accelerator program and the businesses in the cohort, visit:

Submitted by: Jordan Burns, Cerrell