Empowered to Serve Business Accelerator: Maryland Black Farmers

a Black man and woman wearing aprons are standing in front of their produce stand at a farmers market

Many Black entrepreneurs and farmers center social justice in what they do. The EmPOWERED to Serve Business Accelerator - Maryland Black Farmers is an effort to identify and support Black farmers in Maryland to create business solutions to social and economic challenges impacting the communities we serve and increase access to healthy foods. As a result, they have the potential to change behaviors, expand access to resources and improve the long-term health of all people in Maryland.

The business accelerator was featured on WJZ CBS News Baltimore! Watch the segment ยป

In the process of reworking my low-fidelity prototype, the Business Accelerator helped me realize CodaBax's greater potential. There has been more than one wow moment as I worked through it. I cannot wait to see what our impact will be three and five years from now.

— Crystal Levine, Empowered to Serve Maryland Black Farmers candidate

Finale Judges

This impressive panel of executives served as judges during the finale on February 7.
headshot of Dekonti Mends-Cole

Dekonti Mends-Cole
Head of DE&I for Corporate Responsibility, JPMorgan Chase & Co.

headshot of Janet S. Currie

Janet S. Currie
President, Bank of America Greater Maryland

headshot of Larry L. Johnson

Larry L. Johnson
Chairman, AHA Baltimore & Greater Maryland Division Board of Directors

Finale Showcase

Scroll to browse photos from the Maryland Black Farmers Business Accelerator Finale Showcase.

Several factors contribute to disparities, including federal programs and policies that exclude Black people from land purchases and limited access to capital through discriminatory lending practices.


of Maryland farmers are Black


of total Maryland farm sales are from Black farmers

Woman doing a presentation

Selected candidates will:

  • Receive four to six weeks of training in business and brand storytelling.
  • Refine their business story and presentation in a cohort with other Maryland Black farmers.
  • Share their business story at an in-person event in Maryland for a chance at $72,000 in grant funding.

Who can apply?

Applicants must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen 18 years or older.
  • Be the founder, CEO or someone authorized to make changes to the business or project.
  • Be a Black farmer.
  • Have an office in the Maryland market and affect a community within that market.
  • Address one or more categories of the social determinants of health.
  • Have an innovation that improves health or social/economic inequities.
  • Be available during crucial accelerator dates.
  • Be a profit or nonprofit that focuses on digital health and social impact.




Application period: Aug. 21 – Oct. 2, 2023

Top candidates notified by: Oct. 30, 2023

Training: Nov. 8, 2023 – Jan. 16, 2024

Building Brand Story: Jan. 17 – Feb. 7, 2024

Finale: Feb. 7, 2024

The Empowered to Serve Business Accelerator is a national American Heart Association program that provides social entrepreneurs, startups and businesses focusing on health impact the tools and support to grow and scale. Through this opportunity, the Association provides business training, grants and a lasting connection to our organization.

CareFirst logo

The Maryland Black Farmers EmPOWERED to Serve Business Accelerator is presented by CareFirst.