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YouTube Launches Grant Program for Black Creators & Artists

#YouTubeBlack Voices Class of 2021
Courtesy of YouTube

#YouTubeBlack Voices Class of 2021

The inaugural class of 132 grant recipients includes 21 music artists from around the world.

YouTube is using capital from its $100 million #YouTubeBlack Voices Fund, which launched in October, to create a global grant program for Black creators on the platform, the company announced today (Jan. 12).

The program kicks off with the #YouTubeBlack Voices Class of 2021: A group of 132 creators from across six countries, which includes 21 music artists alongside photographers, lifestyle vloggers, personal trainers and more. Through the program, YouTube plans to directly invest in 500 creators total by the end of 2023, with the goal to equip Black creators with the resources to succeed on the platform.

"The #YouTubeBlack community is filled with so many passionate, creative, talented and brilliant artists and entrepreneurs," YouTube vp, responsibility Malik Ducard said during a Jan. 8 briefing with reporters. "These creators and artists have been doing this work already and are known by their communities, but we're really excited to invest in them, and we believe that they can and will become household names with this support."

Added Lyor Cohen, global head of YouTube Music, during the briefing: "This is not a flash-in-the pan Instagram moment. This is about keeping the drum beat of change alive, and in the DNA of our organization."

The 132 creators hail from the United States, Kenya, Brazil, Australia, South Africa and Nigeria. They were selected in part based on their past participation in #YouTubeBlack, the campaign and event series promoting Black creators which YouTube launched in 2016.

The 21 musicians included in the inaugural class are Brent Faiyaz, BRS Kash, Fireboy DML, Jean Dawson, Jensen McRae, Jerome Farah, Joy Oladokun, KennyHoopla, Mariah the Scientist, MC Carol, Miiesha, Myke Towers, Péricles, Rael, Rexx Life Raj, Sauti Sol, serpentwithfeet, Sho Madjozi, Tkay Maidza, Urias and Yung Baby Tate.

"Our expectation is that these artists are going to be significant and important voices, and make music even more enjoyable," Cohen said during the briefing. "There's no question how significant of an impact Black music has had, not just in America, but globally."

The cohort also includes creators like lifestyle vlogger Kelly Stamps and Jabril Ashe (known as Jabrils), who makes educational videos about gaming, technology and artificial intelligence.

Each Class of 2021 creator will receive an undisclosed amount of seed funding to use as they see fit to develop their channels -- whether that means hiring a video editor or purchasing new lighting equipment, for example -- as well as additional support from YouTube in the form of trainings, workshops and networking opportunities. According to Ducard, the grants do not come with any specific content requirements.

"We are not only supporting them in the moment, but this is seed funding that will help them to thrive on the platform long-term," he added.

Moving forward, creators will apply for the grant program through an application process, details of which YouTube has yet to disclose.

The #YouTubeBlack Voices Fund is YouTube's multi-year, global commitment to amplify Black voices on the platform and educate audiences about racial justice, in part by producing and acquiring new YouTube Original programs which focus on racial justice and the Black experience. Since its launch in October, the fund has supported programs such as 2 Chainz' "Money Maker Fund" series highlighting HBCU entrepreneurs and Masego's "Studying Abroad" livestreamed concert series.

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