Houstonians among first winners of $10,000 grant from Beyonce, NAACP

HOUSTON – Three Houston business owners are among the first recipients of a new grant from Beyonce and the NAACP.

The Houston native's BeyGOOD Foundation partnered with the civil rights group to create the Black-owned Small Business Impact Fund which awards $10,000 grants to Black-owned business owners in select cities. The first round of 20 awardees were announced Tuesday morning on Beyonce.com.

In a statement posted to the singer's website, the organizations explained the need for the fund.

"Over the last couple of months, the pandemic and outpours for justice throughout the Black community and across the country has been felt in every imaginable area of our lives, including in how our local businesses continue to operate. The challenges of Black business owners navigating in the climate cannot be understated, as the effects of uprisings across the nation have led to many businesses being placed in dire straits due to damages and other small business needs."

Twenty Black-owned businesses were selected for the first round and include Deidre Mathis, founder of Wanderstay Hostel in Third Ward, Tiffany Turner, owner of Aim High Preparatory Daycare and Pre-School and Ivy Walls of IvyLeaf Farms.

Each of the women told KPRC 2 they are grateful for the funding that will help keep them going during the crisis.

Walls will use the money to continue to grow her farm, a dream planted when she moved to Sunnyside and realized the area needed better options for fresh produce.

"I decided to start to take it upon myself and start growing it for myself and handing out to neighbors," Walls said.

The Prairie View A&M graduate who previously worked at the Centers for Disease Control, recently left her job as an infection preventionist at Memorial Hermann Hospital, to focus full-time on farming and food as a way of improving community health.

"If I have a healthy neighbor, I can have a healthy community," Walls said.

Mathis founded Wanderstay hostel in 2018. A Beyonce-themed room is among the options for travelers to choose from.

"Wanderstay is a product of my passion and love for travel," she said.

Business had been booming with more than 6,000 guests from 29 countries and 21 states.

Then the global coronavirus pandemic put the travel industry on pause.

"Our occupancy went from about 70% to 8%," Mathis said.

Things are picking up and Mathis says she will use the grant money to help open a second location.

"I'm really encouraged to one day when I get to that point to lean back and help other entrepreneurs behind me in their times of need," Mathis told Channel 2 News.

Retired school teacher Tiffany Turner was just six months into her new venture when COVID-19 threatened to shut down her new, Aim High Preparatory Daycare and Pre-school. The school provides a focus on science, technology, engineering, arts and math or STEAM.

"We were down to about 20% enrollment which was a very hard impact," Turner said.

She credited her staff with keeping the place going during the uncertain times. Now, with parents returning to work and bringing kids back to daycare, Turner says she will use the $10,000 to upgrade her sanitization efforts to keep everyone safe and buy new technology to help students now doing virtual learning at her center.

"I couldn't believe it. After going through everything we went through, to be able to receive a grant of that caliber is amazing and I thank God for that, I thank Beyoncé, BeyGOOD and NAACP," Turner said.

Applications for the next round of BeyGOOD and NAACP grants begins in September. Click here to learn more.