Since childhood, L. Maxwell McKissick, the founder of Milwaukee-based Blue Jade Branding, has been interested in Daylight Savings Time and particularly with the question: What’s the best way to use that extra hour when clocks fall back in the fall?
That question eventually became the premise of the SERVE 60 Foundation, a nonprofit McKissick founded that is dedicated to promoting volunteering for at least one hour at a time. McKissick describes SERVE 60 as an ad agency meets nonprofit, using marketing and events to push out positive messages and encourage community service nationwide.
Recognizing the devastating impact COVID-19 has had on restaurants and Black-owned businesses, SERVE 60 recently launched two national social impact campaigns to help those sectors as they weather the pandemic.
In August, the organization launched its “31 Days and Beyond” campaign to raise visibility and support for Black-owned businesses, Black entrepreneurs and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). According to a recent University of California-Santa Cruz analysis, COVID-19 disruptions have caused 41% of Black-owned businesses to shutter their doors, compared to 17% of white-owned businesses. In light of the pandemic’s disparate impact, McKissick said the campaign is aimed at helping close the racial wealth gap by shining a spotlight on businesses that are in need of support.
SERVE 60 has developed digital and billboard ads to increase awareness of Black-owned businesses in 12 target markets, including Milwaukee. With support from sponsor Husch Blackwell, the organization is also developing an economic empowerment fund that will distribute small business grants and HBCU scholarships of up to $1,000. It is also building the Give Black Network, a national network of business professionals that will donate up to one hour of skills or services to support a Black-owned business.
“I am a Black entrepreneur, so I understand firsthand the challenges of having a Black-owned business and trying to create, develop and maintain a Black-owned business in America,” McKissick said. “… I think a lot of people can attest to the fact that 2020 appears to be a year of reckoning, with the civil unrest against injustices against Black Americans. We wanted to do something about it.”
A separate SERVE 60 campaign, “SERVE. TASTE. GIVE,” is aimed at helping restaurants rebound.
The campaign plays off the original SERVE 60 concept, but instead asks people to donate their extra hour from Daylight Savings weekend to “do good” and spend $60 on dine-in, takeout or delivery from a restaurant in their community. In the Milwaukee market, the organization is partnering with Black Shoe Hospitality – operator of Blue’s Egg, Maxie’s and Story Hill BKC –and six iHeart Radio stations to get the word out.
L. Maxwell McKissick Founding principal Blue Jade Branding Nonprofit served: SERVE 60 Foundation Service: Founder and board chairman