BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — The MLK Community Initiative is a recently launched organization. The groups' sole purpose is to pour in resources into the MLK Southeast Bakersfield corridor.
The founder of the group, Arleana Waller, says she started the group to bring awareness to what she believes is an overlooked area.
"The MLK Community Initiative is more about a group in the community, who care about the community," Waller said. "And they are working collaboratively, to help the Southeast area, specifically the MLK and Cottonwood area."
This is why the group is encouraging entrepreneurship to help bring in and build up homegrown businesses.
"One thing we hear consistently from residents and those who come to our meetings is that we need more jobs," Waller said. "We need to get this community up to a place it can thrive, so businesses can come out here."
The MLK Community Initiative is joining forces with the Start-It-Up app, which is a step-by-step app on how to start your own business.
The app normally costs $40 a month. Now, due to a partnership with Bank of America and the Seedcore Foundation, the groups are launching 50 scholarships for Kern County residents.
"The Start-It-Up program helps people with an assessment that tells them their strengths and weakness, in terms of the skills they need to be a successful entrepreneur," said John-Paul Lake, treasurer for SeedCore Foundation.
"After that, it helps put together a simple business plan and it connects them with a mentor from the CSUB Development Center," Lake said.
Lake says the app makes it easy for new business owners to figure out how to get their business licenses, permits, and potential funding sources.
"In meeting with the MLK Community group we know that they are doing great work in Southeast Bakersfield," Lake said. "That's an area that really needs a lot of economic development. We believe by helping economic development, we can improve the quality of life."
Waller says this is just the beginning of addressing the MLK Southeast need for economic support. She envisions bringing more jobs, affordable grocery stores, and new infrastructure.
"There are so many diamonds in this area," Waller said. "[There are] so many brilliant individuals in this area, and if they can get that kind of support through, Start It Up, this is a game-changer for this community."
Additional information will be available at the monthly MLK community meeting on Jan. 14. The meeting is held at Jerusalem Mission (924 Cottonwood Rd.) from 6 p.m.- 7:30 p.m.