Warren Ballentine, a popular local talk show personality, is betting supporting a monthly coffee habit can translate into funding to help small business ventures in Baltimore and other cities around the country.
He is challenging at least 30,000 people to spend $30 dollars a month purchasing Gano brand coffee. The proceeds, Ballentine said, would go directly to distressed people and neighborhoods as a way to increase capital and minority entrepreneurship,
A package of 30 sachets of Platinum Arabica Blend of coffee can be ordered for $30 at www.truthfighterscoffee.com.
“All of the money will go into the community, every cent,” said Ballentine. The only other expense is the coffee itself, which Ballentine said he would buy directly from the providers.
Each month, the money earned from the coffee sales would be used in a variety of ways from grants to keep community businesses afloat to tuition assistance for college students.
“I want to put love and trust back into the community, which is what most of these people need,” Ballentine said. “We don’t need the government, we don’t need to blame white America; we need to come together.”
Ballentine said he aims to assist roughly five communities every 30 days.
“We are going to do three cities for the initial rollout in November, and hopefully by my birthday in May, this will have spread all over the country,” Ballentine said. “What we need most in our communities is capital and trust. If we do this the right way, we will have both.”
Ballentine grew up on the Southside of Chicago, where he observed a number of problems afflicting his community. He said seeing such misfortune there, and in other communities around the country, prompted him to take a great interest in improving the lives of children and communities as a whole.
“It’s easy for me to do because I come from [places like] that. The people that most would look down on or look through, I was one of them,” said Ballentine. “I believe to achieve blessings, you have to be a blessing.”
Ballentine earned a law degree from Ohio Northern University Pettit College of Law in Ada, Ohio. His focus was working with children and young people through domestic relations, police brutality, gang violence etc. His work earned him the nickname, “The No. 1 Truth Fighter.”
“[When I first started] I would use my own money to help out the children,” Ballentine said. “One of the kids came to me one day and said, ‘You are the truth, man; you are the only one fighting for us.’”
Since then, Ballentine said, he has tried various efforts to address a variety of social problems.
“We keep looking to the government as a savior when we see the hero in the mirror every day,” he said.
In this latest venture, business-owners seeking grants to pay down debt must: 1) Register to vote (if legally eligible), 2) Open up a bank account in a community-based bank, 3) Hire people from within that community, regardless of prior records, and 4) Provide a business plan and/or proof of amount owed (i.e. mortgage statements, tuition bills etc.)
“This initiative is a way to change everything in our communities,” said Ballentine. “We can spend $30 on partying, clothes or gas, but if spread the word about this initiative, we could truly help support black businesses and communities.”
The primary goal of this initiative is to offer some immediate relief where it is needed, as well as focus on long-term resolutions to stimulate economic growth and promote healthy communities financially and socially. Ballentine knows that this has to be a group effort, however.
“Imagine if Lil’ Wayne, or Jay-Z, or Beyonce donated just $5 of their earnings from their CDs…imagine what that could do for the jobs and people in our communities,” Ballentine said.
He said he understands that the fate of us all is bound tightly together, and worrying simply about one’s self will never advance Black people as a whole. “If I want to be great, I need you to be great as well because we are intertwined,” he said.
Ballentine said he chose Gano Platinum Coffee for more than just financial reasons.
“I chose a company that makes organic coffee because I just didn’t want it to be about coffee; I wanted it to be something that helped people be healthy,” Ballentine said, adding that the coffee contains a “Super Food” known to improve the body’s healing ability, promote longevity, remove toxins, strengthen the immune system, boost energy and support proper brain functioning.
“I know people are going to ask, ‘What is he getting out of this?’ but all I want is to create a legacy…so people will remember that I tried to change our communities and continue to do so themselves.”