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BII and Black Economic Council of Massachusetts Announce First Co-Investment in Mental Health and Consulting Practice ‘And Still We Rise’

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This investment is the initial investment of BECMA Community Investments (BCI), and the first co-investment between BII and BCI. Kofi Callender, BECMA Community Investments Managing Director, is a BII 2023 EFM Cohort Alumni.

BOSTON – Thursday, March 28, 2024 – The Black Economic Council of Massachusetts (BECMA) and Boston Impact Initiative (BII) today announce a $325,000 investment in And Still We Rise (ASWR), a liberation-focused mental health and consulting practice providing therapy, coaching, and consulting services to individuals and organizations. 

The funding is the initial investment of BECMA Community Investments (BCI), a BECMA initiative designed to support ambitious business owners across the Commonwealth by providing critical financial and social capital. In the pilot phase launched in 2023, BECMA is seeking to provide capital to members for asset-backed funding to utilize for needs including receivables, inventory, equipment, or real estate.

BCI’s aim is to build a sustainable, inclusive and equitable economy by investing integrated capital into local enterprises to spur growth and help close the racial wealth gap. BECMA members applied for the initiative and were evaluated through a collaborative and transparent process to determine how BCI can provide the most value and leverage of resources.

“BECMA Community Investments provides a sustainable, inclusive, and equitable source of capital for Black-led enterprises to enable their growth and stability, and is a key initiative as part of BECMA’s broader vision to close the racial wealth gap and build and sustain Black wealth in the Commonwealth,” said Nicole Obi, President and CEO of BECMA.

BII is a nonprofit impact fund working to build financial, social, and political power for entrepreneurs of color to help close the racial wealth divide. BII manages integrated capital funds, investing $14M in 80+ companies since inception and providing impact-focused support to 100+ small businesses annually. BII Fund II, launched in October 2022, is a $20M fund focusing on racial justice and climate resilience in Massachusetts that has already raised $10 million and invested $4.2 million in 19 enterprises. Recognized in the 2023 ImpactAssets 50 and Transformative 25 Lists, BII transforms capital allocation for community wealth and power.

BCI convened an Investment Committee responsible for evaluating and approving potential investment opportunities in alignment with BCI’s mission to support Black-owned businesses. The committee is composed of seasoned professionals with diverse backgrounds consisting of representatives from key partners including BII, State Street, Chase Bank, Eastern Bank and BitSight.

“It was wonderful to work with an aligned partner like BCI to support the needs of a strong business,” said Henry Noël Jr., Investment Director of BII. “This particular investment called for a loan and a line of credit and through our partnership, ASWR now has the support of two investment funds that have strong ties to the local community and business support ecosystem.”

Noël and the BCI Investment Committee assessed ASWR and determined the firm addresses a critical need in our communities, with strong fundamentals and a great growth profile. ASWR was burdened with high-interest, predatory loans that threatened the stability of the practice. BII and BECMA teamed up to provide a complete and client-centered solution to put the firm in a stable financial position, which would further enable growth and their ability to provide their comprehensive liberation-focused mental health services.

This collaboration between BECMA and BII is the latest in the nonprofits’ ongoing partnership. The organizations are mission-aligned and share office space in the Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building in Roxbury. BECMA’s Kofi Callender also completed BII’s Emerging Fund Manager Cohort Program, which provides training to support the design and implementation of community-scale, racial and economic justice funds.

“And Still We Rise is an invaluable resource for marginalized individuals and communities. BCI is thrilled to make our first investment in this firm and provide the affordable, adequate capital needed to ensure that their clients receive the services they need,” said Kofi Callender, BECMA Community Investments Managing Director.

ASWR’s mission is to dismantle oppressive systems and liberate marginalized people by providing culturally affirming psychotherapy, consultation, and life-coaching services. ASWR centers a race-conscious approach to their mental health services, prioritizing individuals and communities that have been historically overlooked or marginalized by the mental health field, including women, BIPOC, and LGBTQIA+ individuals. ASWR also hires the majority of their staff from BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities. 

The firm provides consulting services to public and private organizations seeking to support marginalized members; reckon with incidents of racism, bias, or violence; and further their inclusion and belonging efforts. ASWR operates two sites in Massachusetts in Boston and Cambridge and a third location in Bellevue, Washington.

ASWR has experienced rapid growth since its inception in 2018, but was not able to access traditional financing to support its development. The firm turned to short-term facilities at an extremely high interest rate, which threatened the long-term viability of the practice. BECMA provided ASWR a $75,000 working capital line of credit while BII provided a $250,000 loan to refinance existing debt with more entrepreneur-friendly terms.

“Since 2018, when I founded the company, we went from just me to a team of almost 80 people. In 2023 alone, for example, we provided mental health services to over 1,000 people in Massachusetts, the majority of whom identify as someone from a marginalized community,” said Natasha Holmes, Founder and CEO of And Still We Rise. “This rapid growth paired with limited access to capital through traditional banking is why the partnership between ASWR, BECMA, and BII has been invaluable. This partnership allowed my business to not only stabilize, but to thrive. I am deeply thankful to Kofi and the BECMA team.”

To date, BCI has raised $1.55M in capital, including an investment from Moody’s.


About Boston Impact Initiative (BII)

BII is a nonprofit impact investment fund working to build a future where entrepreneurs of color and their communities have the financial, social and political power to create a sustainable, inclusive and equitable economy for future generations. To do this, BII invests integrated capital in social enterprises and community-controlled real estate to increase wealth and asset-building opportunities for communities of color. BII is also transforming the impact investing field through field-building and education, so economic and racial justice becomes integral to any place-based investment strategy. 

About the Black Economic Council of Massachusetts (BECMA)

The Black Economic Council of Massachusetts (BECMA) is a member-based nonprofit organization that builds Black wealth across Massachusetts by supporting and empowering Black-owned businesses and removing barriers to opportunity and prosperity for Black communities. Founded in 2015, BECMA focuses on four pillars to building and sustaining Black wealth: entrepreneurship, placement, commerce, and ownership. Through advocacy, programming, and strategic partnerships, BECMA drives economic equity and prosperity for Massachusetts to achieve inclusive growth. For more information, visit