It’s been talked about for a long time in the United States, but the concept of reparations has always generated controversy.

It speaks to the idea that African Americans should be compensated — with cash payments — for the 400 years of slavery inflicted upon them by white European settlers of America.

But while reparations is been getting a new level of airing in recent years, many initiatives that are more specific are already underway to empower African American groups. A subcategory of this concept is providing help for black women.

A good example of where this is happening right now is in Ohio. Cincinnati’s Fifth Third Bankcorp recently launched a program designed to empower black women business owners. Beginning in September of 2020, Bankcorp began offering grants, technical assistance and “capital infusions” to female minority-owned businesses in seven cities nationally. The program is backed by $1.2 million.

But there’s more money where they came from. That’s because this initiative is the product of a consortium of entities that have come together to empower black women. They include the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, the Association for Enterprise Opportunity and Fifth Third Bank. Together they have put forth $8.75 million.

Stephanie Steward-Young is the chief of corporate responsibility for Fifth Third. She said African American women business owners have long faced a disproportionate challenge in raising capital. This new initiative is a start in leveling the playing field, Steward-Young said.

Another resource for black women is a group called African American Grants. This organization recently listed the 35 top grant sources for black women on its website. It also rolls out a host of other important information that goes beyond the issue of capital.

For example, an African American Grants spokesperson explained that what keeps black women from moving forward is not just cash, but something even more important. That something is knowledge.

In this case, it’s the knowledge of how to navigate through the nitty-gritty details of applying for grants, finding them, how to qualify, where to go, who to talk to and much more. Furthermore, the process of applying for a grant tends to be highly different for each person.

Thus, while the issue of reparations continues to be debated on a national and cultural scale, black women should be aware that programs are available to them right now. Starting with an online search today can lead to obtaining valuable resources in the near future.