Tonya Jenkins, a working mom who started as a high school volunteer, has worked in day care centers as a teacher and manager.
Jenkins plans to realize her dream when she opens her own day care business this fall at Sabathani Community Center in Minneapolis.
She crossed a financial hurdle recently when she received a $40,000 low-interest loan and $20,000 forgivable loan from First Children's Finance, a community development financial institution, or CDFI, that focuses on building child care services in communities of color and rural areas.
She was the first recipient of a grant First Children's received from Wells Fargo's Open for Business Fund. It's part of $12 million Wells Fargo has granted Twin Cities CDFIs in the first wave of $420 million it committed nationally to help small businesses recover from the pandemic.
The funds come from fees Wells Fargo collected for processing applications last year and early this year to the Small Business Administration's Paycheck Protection Program, a key element of the government's the pandemic and recession relief.
The $12 million will be distributed to 13 Minnesota CDFIs, including African Development Center, Community Reinvestment Fund, African Development Center, Hmong American Partnership, Latino Economic Development Center, Neighborhood Development Center and Women Venture.
"The funding enables me to buy equipment for the classrooms and also to market and pay staff until I can get enough families in to generate sufficient revenue to run the business," Jenkins said. "The location has been approved and licensed for infants to 12-year-olds.''
Wells Fargo provided details of the distribution at an online forum with local government officials, CDFI business counselors and other lenders.
"The profound effects of the pandemic and the ongoing civil unrest and attacks on communities of color have had a devastating impact on our small business community, particularly minority-owned entrepreneurs in the Lake Street corridor," Laurie Nordquist, lead region president for Wells Fargo, said in a statement.
She said she hoped the money would help businesses in the metro area and across the state get access to "the capital they need to preserve their livelihoods and those of their employees."
The CDFIs are using their Open for Business Fund grants in different ways.
"Over the past year, many child-care programs have found themselves severely unenrolled and have had to close their doors, and this has had a ripple effect on the essential workers who are disproportionately people of color and need child care to get back to work," said First Children's Finance CEO Jerry Cutts. "The support of Wells Fargo is enabling us to provide a spectrum of forgivable and flexible loans paired with personalized technical assistance and coaching for each provider to help them stabilize their business and grow."
Renay Dossman, president of Neighborhood Development Center, said it will provide grants and flexible low-cost loans to diverse small businesses in commercial corridors of Minneapolis and St. Paul, in addition to "high-touch technical assistance to address the rebuild needs of micro and small businesses."