Chicago-based Ariel Investments has announced the launch of Ariel Alternatives, a private asset management firm with a mission to sustainably scale minority-owned businesses.
To that end, the firm, which was co-founded by Ariel Investments co-CEO Mellody Hobson and Sarr Group CEO and chair Leslie A. Brun, is preparing to launch Project Black, an initiative focused on transforming middle-market companies that are not currently minority owned into certified minority business enterprises and scaling existing Black and Latinx-owned businesses. JPMorgan Chase has committed up to $200 million to the initiative for future transactions — part of the bank's commitment, announced in October, to invest $30 billion in efforts to advance racial equity.
"Through Project Black, we plan to ultimately disperse opportunity throughout underrepresented communities," said Hobson, who also serves as vice president of the Hobson/Lucas Family Foundation board. "We want to change the narrative and foster true action and demonstrable change."
"It is no secret that the racial wealth gap in America continues to widen, day by day," said Brun. "While we have been encouraged and inspired by the supply chain diversity commitments recently made by large corporations, we believe that it is time to accelerate these promises with real, measurable steps. Our work will aim to bring operational excellence, financial resources, minority ownership and leadership to these companies."
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