Meet The Recipients
This natural and vegan skincare line was founded by Akilah Releford when she was 20 years old with only $200 in her pocket. That entrepreneurial spirit combined with a focus on products that deliver serious results catapulted her brand. Believing that everyone should have access to wholesome, natural, and organic beauty products, Akilah took inspiration from her grandmothers – Mary and Louise – who always used natural and homemade recipes in their everyday routines.
Accomplished dancer and performer Paula Brown dreamt of establishing a dance school in her community so that young brown girls could study classical ballet. Five years ago, she was able to open the doors of the Paula Brown Performing Arts Center in Prince George’s County, Maryland. It has been a rewarding journey for both her and her Brown Ballerinas. Thanks to the training her students have received, they have gone on to study at a number of prestigious dance academies and institutions.
54 Thrones was founded in 2016 by Christina Tegbe. With a southern-American childhood rooted in the cultural essence of Nigeria, Christina grew up experiencing the true and sacred beauty of Africa. Empowered by her Nigerian aunties who would indulge her with tubs of shea butter, she always held those memories close to her heart. 54 Thrones has since ended up on Oprah’s list of favorite things and continues to feature products that are natural, authentic, and thoughtful.
Established in 2005, Shea Yeleen International, Inc. is a nonprofit social enterprise dedicated to empowering women in West Africa and the United States through the production, sale, and use of shea butter products. A unique blend of grassroots organizing and business development, Shea Yeleen is a company that specializes in manufacturing high quality, organic, fair trade skin care products and utilizing a sales strategy that incorporates women’s micro enterprise development.
Heirtage was created to ensure that minority groups are appropriately represented in the world of sock culture. Each sock is a representation of the strength the Black community has shown throughout history, showcasing the trailblazers who have made a lasting impact in the world. Heirtage also hosts events to engage the community in conversation on topics ranging from politics to homelessness to issues that directly affect the Black community.
Anne’s Apothecary offers mineral-rich skincare products that are 100% non-toxic, all-natural, hypoallergenic, paraben-free, and dermatologist approved. Based in North Carolina, they specialize in the use of cold-pressed oils, herbs, and clays to produce skin-loving products that are easy to use. With the philosophy that “what you put on your skin should be safe enough to eat,” Anne’s Apothecary focuses on ethical and sustainable small batches crafted entirely by hand.
Naasakle International LLC is the parent company to both the Eu’Genia and Mother’s Shea brands. Founded in 2015, Naa-Sakle Akuete used her mother Eugenia’s specialized expertise as the former President of the Global Shea Alliance to provide consumers with clean, affordable skincare products and the best shea around. They strive to increase the perception of African ingredients and the prevalence of "double bottom line" companies (companies that care about both profits and social missions).
The Nourish Spot is based in Jamaica, Queens, NY where the family has had roots for nearly a century. They opened their doors to a community that was considered a food desert, bereft of healthy food and beverage options. The Nourish Spot established an oasis to provide customers access to fresh produce laden with vitamins and minerals. Many of the foods offered have the power to fight diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, literally saving the lives of customers.