But amid the pandemic, as well as last year’s Black Lives Matter protests following the death of George Floyd, Ashroe saw an opportunity to forge a closer connection with the region – and in a way that goes beyond “a simple test,” Sawyer said.
This approach involves forging partnerships with charities, including several in Madison, to help the black community overcome its difficulties.
“The black community has been hit hard (during the pandemic),” Sawyer said, adding that the few people working under the Colony Brands umbrella are salaried “colored people”. “In fact, a small number of people came up to me and said that we should try to do something to support our customers, besides running the business.”
The company formed the Ashro Community Council, which is a group of 11 people who, in early 2020, identified four areas of needs in the black community, including women’s health, career advancement, education, and basic needs.
“We brainstormed around what we wanted to do and broke up subcommittees to target different pieces of this puzzle,” Sawyer said of forming the council.
By the end of last year, the council provided financial support to several charities in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Texas and Georgia that are committed to preventing domestic violence, hunger, homelessness and health problems, Sawyer said.