The SEED program provides grants to business owners who plan to open or expand a business within the city of Richmond, along the 25th Street and Nine Mile Road corridor. The announcement consisted of four first-time award recipients: BareSoul Yoga & Wellness, Carolina BBQ, EZ Body & Auto Repair Services and Favour Cookie Company. They join three businesses that have received SEED awards in prior years: The Neighborhood Scoop, Soul N’ Vinegar and The Yard Guy. “The SEED program is an important initiative for Bon Secours. As a faith based, mission driven health care organization, our goal is to improve the overall health of our communities through health promotion, job creation, food access, education and affordable housing,” said Toni R. Ardabell, market president, Bon Secours Richmond. “For seven years, this program has been a catalyst for a new vibrancy in the East End. We are thrilled to see new faces this year, and also returning entrepreneurs, all of whom have decided to make a difference in their community.” Since the program’s inception, a total of $514,500 in SEED awards distributed throughout 52 grants has helped 35 East End businesses take root in the community. Since 2011 Bon Secours has contributed $469,500 toward small business grants, and since 2014, Capital One has donated $45,000. BareSOUL Yoga & Wellness, Ashley Williams – Awarded $25,000 BareSOUL Yoga and Wellness is a yoga studio providing individual and group classes, educational workshops and yoga therapy. Through their yoga initiatives, Bare Soul Yoga is dedicated to engaging and educating a diverse community of people with a target population of people of color, varying socioeconomic levels, ages, physical abilities, and educational levels. The SEED funding will be used to purchase a vehicle; and enhance technology and marketing to provide yoga therapy and wellness education to new populations through unique mobile and social media platforms. Carolina Bar B Que, Alicia Hawkins – Awarded $25,000 Carolina Bar B Que has been a long time Church Hill neighborhood establishment. They provide home cooked styled meals at affordable prices in a low-income community. Carolina Bar B Que gives back to the community by supporting local food festivals, participating in holiday food drives, and by making every customer feel part of their continued presence. The SEED grant award will be used to complete exterior façade improvements, modernize and update kitchen equipment. EZ Body & Auto Repair Service, Charlene Spencer-Taylor – Awarded $14,500 EZ Body & Auto Repair Service provides high quality, convenient and comprehensive auto repairs at competitive rates in the Church Hill area. The business is women-owned with more than 30 years of automotive repair experience. The SEED grant award will be used to complete storefront façade improvements and install 3 automobile lifts in the garage. Favour Cookie Company, Sequoia Ross – Awarded $15,000 Favour Cookie Company is a new start up business offering dairy free, peanut free, vegan and gluten-free cookie dough. The cookies are free of saturated fats, cholesterol, GMO’s and other harsh preservatives. Favour Cookie Company will produce cookies you can feel good about eating. The SEED grant award will be used to purchase equipment, marketing materials, and website development for the new start up. Soul N’ Vinegar, Michelle Parrish – Awarded $10,000 Soul N’ Vinegar is a small neighborhood food store selling house-made, prepared foods and packaged meals. There focus is based on fresh produce and diverse flavors. Soul N’ Vinegar strives to provide inexpensive, minimally processed food in a community lacking fresh and healthy food service options. The SEED funding will go to purchasing equipment, installing a patio and purchasing outdoor furniture. Soul N’ Vinegar is a returning SEED Business. The Neighborhood Scoop, Lawson Wijesooriya – Awarded $8,000 The Neighborhood Scoop is an ice cream shop intentionally serving as a gathering place for diverse community residents to connect over the joys of ice cream. The Neighborhood Scoop offers a variety of ice creams at different price points to appeal to all Church Hill residents. The SEED funding will be used to purchase power generators. The Neighborhood Scoop is a returning SEED business. The Yard Guy, Darlene Birchett – Awarded $12,500 The Yard Guy is a landscaping, hauling, and yard maintenance business. They feature specialized initiatives with reduced prices targeted for low income seniors in the Church Hill community. The SEED award funding will be used to purchase heavy landscape and lawn equipment. The Yard Guy is a returning SEED business.