The Noir Bookshop Fund: A Fiscal Sponsorship to Love

When Ymani Wince, owner of The Noir Bookshop, reached out to YouthBridge Community Foundation of Greater St. Louis, she was in a unique position. Rather than seeking funding, she needed help with the money her business had already been granted. Ymani received a grant award to place vending machines with free books in places where children congregate and to expand the community activities at the bookshop. After learning she had won the grant, however, she discovered that the money could only be received by a qualified nonprofit organization. Far from being disheartened, Ymani began the search for a fiscal sponsor, and soon realized that YouthBridge was the partner she was looking for.

In hindsight, the “bad news” that Ymani could not initially access her grant award was the nudge that she needed to chart the course for her business. The Noir Bookshop was founded on three pillars – education, inspiration, and community – and she had been toying with the idea of incorporating a nonprofit arm, or perhaps turning the business into a nonprofit. Working with YouthBridge was the perfect solution, allowing her the flexibility to implement charitable activities while still operating her business. Ymani’s idea of placing vending machines filled with free books at locations such as recreation centers and community centers had a two-fold purpose. First and foremost, books would be placed in the hands of children who might not have any other means to get them. Children with increased access to books also have an increased chance of falling in love with them. Ymani believed that this newfound love and excitement for books would lead to more children visiting these locations, helping them reap other benefits the centers provide. Education, inspiration, and community were all part of Ymani’s grant-winning project idea, and YouthBridge was thrilled to help bring it to life.

Ymani was extremely pleased with the guidance and advice she received from YouthBridge staff while they set up the fiscal sponsorship. Now that she has access to the grant funds and the first ONYX vending machine is soon to be placed in the Herbert Hoover Boys and Girls Club, Ymani is able to focus even more on the community pillar. She is excited for a broader community to see the bookshop transition from a simple retail space in South St. Louis City to an empowering resource community members can access.

In regard to its community focus, The Noir Bookshop is thrilled to host two upcoming events. To celebrate Valentines Day and Black History Month, on February 17, the bookshop will showcase the work of award-winning author Toni Morrison, whose birthday is February 18. The family-friendly event will be open to the public and will invite all to fall in love with Black literature. On February 29, Noir will host its first salon-style dinner party. Attendees of SALON NOIR will engage in an evening of conversation, literature, food, and music. The event is a tribute to the famous salon parties of A’Lelia Walker, the daughter of entrepreneur, philanthropist, and activist, Madam C.J. Walker. Ymani relates, “We’re excited to kick off these intimate conversations with our audience in the community.”

While YouthBridge Community Foundation of Greater St. Louis does not typically seek to help start new nonprofits, the foundation remains dedicated to its goal of “Connecting Resources with Community Needs.” In the case of The Noir Bookshop, its focus on education, strengthening the Black Community, and enriching the lives of young people, along with the entrepreneurial spirit of its founder, were all well-aligned with the YouthBridge philosophy. According to Ymani, “I have been so pleased with the responsiveness and support of the YouthBridge staff! Without them, there would have been a much longer delay in helping the community.” In partnership with YouthBridge, Ymani is determining the best way to organize her business for the benefit of the community and is eager to see what the future holds.

YouthBridge connects donors with community needs. If you are interested in learning more about how we can make charitable giving easier for you, please contact Michele Mosley.