Introducing...the Tapestry Project

June 18, 2018

About Tapestry Project:

On June 19th, AEO announced the launch of the Tapestry Project, an initiative that seeks to accentuate and accelerate Black business development so that existing businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs reach their full potential.

AEO’s report, The Tapestry of Black Business Ownership in America, paints a picture of the rich diversity of businesses that weave a tapestry of Black business ownership throughout the country. Moreover, the report makes a case for addressing the complex interplay among three acute challenges impeding Black business development: a massive wealth gap, credit gap, and a trust gap fueled through bias. In recent years there has been a resurgence, a proliferation of programs and activities to support Black business development. They generally focus on capital access and/or building the capacity of the business owner. These efforts are necessary but not sufficient on their own in addressing the exponential effects of the interplay among the wealth gap, credit gap, and trust gap. More intentional and innovative approaches are required in helping Black-owned businesses achieve to their full potential.

AEO believes that there is merit to having a platform for those projects, in order to accentuate and accelerate their impact and ongoing development. The Tapestry Project provides a supporting framework that serves two stakeholder groups: philanthropists/investors and practitioners. For philanthropists and investors, the Tapestry Project creates a marketplace of viable, fundable and investible projects by providing a clear view of the Black business landscape and the resource gaps that exist within it. For practitioners, the Tapestry Project gives access to an infrastructure of services within an innovation backbone, and contract funding for pilot demonstrations through an Action Lab that helps to create, test, and refine models to support Black business development.


Dates to Remember:

July 17:  Applications Open

July 23:   Informational Webinar

July 26:  Informational Webinar

August 2:   Informational Webinar

August 7:   Application Closes


Register for Informational Webinars:


Strategic Priorities

  1. Provide additive value to the broad landscape of Black business development initiatives by increasing the visibility and understanding of their approaches, collecting and communicating their aggregate success and identifying new opportunities in markets, product innovation and resources.
  2. Foster a vibrant, innovative collection of high quality collaborations that highlights black business development and helps to close the racial wealth gap.
  3. Align AEO’s suite of resources, partnerships and infrastructure to support the acceleration of solutions that help Black-owned businesses to reach their full potential.


Applicant Opportunities


Tapestry Project Innovation Registry (TPIR)

The Tapestry Project Innovation Registry serves as an online registry that will help broaden the reach of each organization’s work to funders, investors and other potential collaborators. By registering, practitioners will be eligible to access the services below: 

  • Storytelling - Opportunities to showcase individual projects/innovations as well as the collective story, which participants can leverage to advance their work and their message.
  • Matchmaking – Enables participants to find, connect, and build relationships they may find beneficial.
  • Research and Data –Access to proprietary data sets, targeted and customized research and data services.
  • Convening – The Tapestry Project will serve as a platform for convenings to allow participants to network, share information, engage in peer learning, and collaborate on policies and plans.

AEO will search broadly across the U.S. landscape for targets of opportunity – places where the Tapestry Project can help support innovation, and where we might be able to align our work with others, in order to accomplish greater impact in Black business development than any one organization could do alone.


Tapestry Project Action Lab

The Action Lab is an open space for experimentation and innovation for solutions that will address the interplay of the wealth, credit and trust gaps that prevent Black-owned businesses from reaching their potential. The action lab strategy will be implemented across multiple cities (not fewer than 5) through a competitive process resulting from a request for applications (RFA).

We are looking to support “ecosystem approaches” or collaborations where the Tapestry Project Award will be additive to existing efforts already on the ground. Successful applicants will be eligible for a Tapestry Project Award Package that can include:

  • Contract dollar funding of up to $50,000  for new ecosystem pilot demonstrations
  • Capital products and trusted guidance resources that can be made available to Black business owners
  • Other offers and innovations from project partners and sponsors developed over the length of the project


Learn About the Tapestry Report

This groundbreaking report explores the diversity among Black business owners in the U.S. and illuminates key findings about the important role that Black-owned businesses have played in the U.S. economy, the barriers that thwart their potential, and the impact they could have on jobs and the economy given the right support. The report also offers new ideas about how to unleash their potential by addressing those barriers, namely, the intersection of the wealth, credit, and trust gaps.

(Download the report here.)

Share this...