For the last two and a half years, small businesses have been dealing with the ongoing impact of the pandemic and the economic repercussions that resulted. Small businesses owned by people of color or women have been some of the hardest hit. In particular, Black-owned businesses declined by 41% during the first few months of the pandemic versus just 21% for the general population according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. That’s one of the reasons why in late 2020 we launched Comcast RISE, which stands for “Representation, Investment, Strength and Empowerment,” to invest in the success of these critical businesses by providing valuable and practical support and the resources necessary not just to survive, but thrive.
“While we know that no single organization can solve historic and systemic inequities overnight, we are committed to taking tangible actions that can drive long-term impact and change,” said Teresa Ward-Maupin, Senior Vice President, Digital and Customer Experience, Comcast Business. “Comcast RISE and the Comcast RISE Investment Fund have offered the opportunity for small businesses owned by people of color and women to help grow their businesses, create jobs and continue to serve as the backbone of their communities.”
Lois Arnold, owner of Hairs 2 U, a wig bank in Philadelphia that provides affordable wigs to women and children affected by hair loss, shared her experience: “The Comcast RISE Technology Makeover award is truly a game changer for us. Our redesigned website is giving us an upper edge with online marketing and awareness that will help drive both donors and customers in-need through our doors. And the new technology is allowing my staff to be so much more collaborative and efficient, which is vital during this pandemic.”
To date, Comcast RISE has awarded more than $16 million in grants and $75 million in in-kind support for marketing and technology services, impacting more than 9,500 entrepreneurs in 704 cities across 37 states. By the end of 2022, 13,000 businesses across the country are expected to benefit from the Comcast RISE initiative, by receiving a monetary, technology or marketing grant.
“The Comcast RISE Investment Fund supported my business at a very critical time in the midst of the pandemic when parents, particularly those who were considered essential workers, needed a safe, reliable environment for their children,” said Nina Hodge, Above and Beyond Learning Childcare Center on Detroit’s east side.
In addition to directly supporting entrepreneurs through Comcast RISE, we collaborate with a number of organizations that aim to build a pipeline for entrepreneurship and small businesses such as Ureeka, which is helping Comcast RISE grant recipients with business support and post-COVID resiliency, and BUILD, which ignites the potential of youth from marginalized communities by teaching an entrepreneurial mindset that propels them through high school, college and career success. We’ve also partnered with nonprofit Echoing Green, which supports bold ideas and extraordinary leaders — investing in their $50M Racial Equity Philanthropic Fund and supporting a documentary film that celebrates the power of Black innovation — and with JFF to produce a report that highlights innovators advancing Black talent in tech.
More information and the applications to apply for either the grant program or marketing and technology services are available at www.ComcastRISE.com.