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Helping Local Businesses in Metro Denver Thrive During the Pandemic

Mile High United Way’s United for Business (UFB) team met Brittney and Joslyn at the right time, in November of 2019, as they were working to get their business, FIT & NU, off the ground.
 
FIT & NU focuses on helping people create healthy and nutritious lifestyles by providing a safe space for women of color to focus on their physical and mental health. What started as a grassroots movement offering services at churches within the community had finally evolved into their first commercial space when United for Business began working with them.
 

Helping Small Businesses Reach Their Growth Potential During COVID-19

 
Our UFB team worked alongside Brittney and Joslyn to create a one-year plan, addressing key strategies and accelerating the growth of FIT & NU. That is the goal of Mile High United Way’s UFB program, to strengthen under-resourced communities by helping small, local businesses realize their growth potential.
 
Local businesses are the lifeblood of our community and contribute to our neighborhoods’ rich culture. Mile High United Way believes that by strengthening our local businesses we can, in turn, strengthen the entire community.
 
Our UFB program uses utilizes professional services, Business Advisors, and skills-based volunteers to help owners reach their goals. Through personalized business consulting sessions, we are advising owners on how to apply for financial assistance, adapt their business practices to the evolving COVID-19 requirements, and negotiate with their landlords. In addition, we expanded the program’s skilled volunteer team to provide long-term support through their recovery and partnered with Denver Economic Development and Opportunity (DEDO) to help provide more than $4.4 million in small business emergency relief grants to aid in the recovery of COVID-19.
 

Fit & NU is a small business in Denver that provides a safe space for women of color to focus on their physical and mental health
Brittney and Joslyn provide a safe space for women of color to focus on their physical and mental health. Photo credit: FIT & NU.

 
Through 65 hours of consulting sessions, our UFB team have helped Brittney and Joslyn bolster their knowledge and skills necessary in areas such as accounting, strategy, marketing, legal support, and more, to refine their business model.
 
“Being a participant of the program has expanded our network and allowed us to connect with professionals that we might not have before, like Stella who has been instrumental to us thriving in the pandemic,” Brittney and Joslyn said of working with Stella, one of their United for Business Advisors.
 
Specifically, our UFB program has helped Brittney and Joslyn:
• Conduct a focus group of women of color
• Develop new marketing videos for a national media opportunity
• Pivot their operational model to adapt to COVID-19
• Receive a grant to develop curriculum for serving African American women at risk of diabetes.
• Apply for a national small business leadership development program to which they were accepted
 
As a result of this guidance, FIT & NU has hired one staff person and become local icons, but they’re just getting started. “I’m looking forward to truly expanding our network and reach as far as those who we serve. The pandemic has forced us to kind of attack our big, audacious goal a little sooner than we expected as far as trying to reach women of color nationally. We were getting comfortable just working with our local network here in Colorado, but now I’m excited to see how many more women we can help,” they said.
 
We can’t wait to see what Brittney and Joslyn accomplish next, and we are so proud to have a hand in helping these inspiring entrepreneurs along their journey. We would like to thank Mile High United Way’s UFB volunteers and advisors who’ve committed their time to growing FIT & NU: Martha, Maluwa, Stella, Faye, Catherine H., and Vanessa.
 

Join Mile High United Way’s United for Business Program

 
Mile High United Way’s United for Business program works to strengthen under-resourced communities by focusing on economic stability and mobility for businesses and startups. With an emphasis on women- and minority-owned businesses and entrepreneurs, we provide direct services and specialized assistance that help promote the attraction, retention, and expansion of quality jobs in the Denver Metro area. The program works collaboratively with individual owners, many of whom are in the Globeville and Elyria-Swansea neighborhoods.
 
By engaging in our UFB program, 87% of our clients have experienced growth in one or all of the following areas: increased revenue, net income, hired new employees, or accessed capital if desired. View our 2019-2020 Impact Report to learn more.
 
If you are interested in donating your time and expertise to help small businesses in our community thrive, visit Volunteer@UnitedWayDenver.org. If you are a small, local business owner in Metro Denver that needs business consulting, contact UFB@UnitedWayDenver.org or call 720-501-3920.