Hip-Hop Brews Empowerment for the Black Community


To the people at Seattle based Farley’s Coffee, Inc. hip-hop isn’t just a matter of dollars and cents.

History Improving Programs Helping Our People, or the hip-hop blend as the company is billing it, is the black owned coffee company’s newest product.

A fraction of the proceeds from the blend’s sales will be going toward sustaining the nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other similar institutions. The donations will be given through a "two -tier" structure. For the 22 states having HBCUs, the proceeds from each state’s sales will be divided among the HBCUs in that state based on need. In the other 18 states, the profit from the blend will be divided among the other 22 states’ schools.

The idea came from the desire of the company’s founders Corporate President Ricky Fyles and Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Raymond Wilford to provide the opportunity for education.

"I was born in Jacksonville, FL I had a mother who only had 6th grade school education. I went straight into the military 30 days after graduation because she couldn’t afford to send me to college. I said that one day I would give back because I didn’t want to see a child in the same situation I was in."

In a press release issued by the company, Raymond Wilford stressed the importance of the obligation to galvanize support in the Black community.

"We are missing economic opportunities by not investing our dollars within our own communities. Universities have struggled to raise money for many years and it is crucial to keep the black dollars circulating through our communities and to continue to support each other as a whole," said Wilford.

"We want to let them [younger generations] know that wealth can be built through economics" and not just through sports and entertainment, said Fyles.

Among the supporters of the initiative is basketball great Lenny Wilkins! The famed former vice president of the NBA Players Association, and former president of the NBA Coaches Association, said "Something has to be done to improve the future of society and create positive opportunities for our youth. It begins with one person at a time."

Dr. Kenya Tyson King, Assistant Professor of English at Cheyney University, Lincoln University, and Delaware State University also lent her opinion on the program.

"As a graduate of and an educator at an HBCU, I know first hand the important role that these colleges play within the black communities here and abroad, as well as the importance of sustaining these institutions.   The responsibility lies within our community to do just that and I hope that there will be other businesses and organizations in our communities following suit."

HBCU students are sharing Dr. Tyson King’s sentiments.

Ayanna Vincent, a student at City University of New York Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, New York "I think it’s a great idea in the sense of Black giving back."

"I am pleased to see a Black owned business funneling dollars back into the Black community, particularly historically black institutions," she said.

"The concept is very pioneering and it shows how black entrepreneurship can have direct benefits for the black community. Coffee may not be your typical agent for sustaining HBCUs, but it speaks volumes for the company," said Sueann Tannis, Howard University Senior Communication and Culture major.

According to the company’s mission statement, Farley’s will always strive to "yield and humble ourselves to achieve a positive impact on the community," hopefully H.I.P.H.O.P. will help do just that.