At the Gilbert Family Foundation, we recognize that systemic barriers have prevented too many Detroit residents from building wealth and improving their economic status. That’s why we invest in programs and partnerships to help address these inequities and give residents and small businesses a real chance to prosper.

There are roughly 50,000 BIPOC-owned Detroit businesses in operation as of 2022 – but the entrepreneurs who run them are often overlooked and under-resourced. Two years ago, we invested in The Hustle, an initiative created by the Detroit Historical Society to amplify BIPOC-owned small businesses in Detroit, a city where nearly 80% of residents are Black. The Hustle was created to chronicle and share the inspiring stories of Black entrepreneurs and the issues and successes they encountered on their respective journeys.

Our investment supported the Detroit Historical Society with developing the exhibits, workshops and events to bring The Hustle to life. Out of nearly 800 applicants, 36 Detroit entrepreneurs were selected to share their stories as part of a rotating exhibit which debuted in 2022. There was additional public and educational programming inspired by the exhibition, including virtual events, four in-person programs and a day-long summit.

The Hustle honorees were also recognized at a celebratory black-tie gala held at the beginning of 2024, featuring the honorees, leaders in the Detroit entrepreneurial space, sponsors and local celebrities. The Hustle will conclude in early April with a podcast and the opening of a virtual exhibit so that visitors who missed the in-person experience will have the opportunity to understand the impact these unsung entrepreneurs have had on Detroit’s small business economy and cultural legacy.