The Comcast Corporation today launched RISE, a three-year initiative to help U.S. small businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic to get back on their feet with grants, marketing and tech updates.
Comcast RISE — representation, investment, strength and empowerment — will roll out resources to business owners in waves, and starting Tuesday, U.S.-based Black-owned small businesses are able to apply for support to help sustain their businesses. RISE is part of a $100 million diversity, equity and inclusion initiative that Comcast launched this summer.
The program offers marketing consultations, media placements, commercial creative production services and tech services from Comcast Business and Effectv, the advertising sales division of Comcast Cable. And late next month, Comcast will be awarding grants up to $10,000 for U.S. based small and diverse businesses that have been operating for between three and five years.
At the core, RISE consists of three components: a media and technology resources program, a grant program, and a business resource page on Xfinity X1 with curated content. Recipients could receive general business and marketing consultations, a three-month linear TV media schedule, a 30-second TV commercial produced for their business or a “tech makeover,” which would include computer equipment, internet, voice and cybersecurity services for a year.
Comcast cited a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research that found that nearly 3.3 million small businesses became inactive between February and April of this year. And Black-owned businesses were hit the hardest, the study found, dropping nearly 41%. (It’s worse in Philadelphia.)
“There’s this old saying, ‘When America catches a cold, Black America catches pneumonia,'” said Ron Busby, president and CEO of U.S. Black Chambers, Inc., in a statement. “Black businesses, which never recovered from the great recession, have been ravaged by COVID-19 with Black-owned businesses twice as likely to close as their white counterparts. While many businesses have responded by moving online or retrofitting to allow for social distancing, many Black business owners have had to halt their operations completely.”
RISE will help Black businesses adapt to the online and offline economy, according to Busby.
The first wave of the program is focused on Black owners, and closes Nov. 7. Beginning Nov. 28, all BIPOC small business owners are eligible to apply.
Any small business owner can currently sign up for free marketing insights and resources. And in the future, Comcast said, it plans to expand the program to other small and diverse business owners.
“We see and know firsthand how vital small businesses are in powering economic growth, recovery and innovation. Now more than ever, driving awareness and maintaining a strong digital presence are crucial for these businesses to succeed,” said Teresa Ward-Maupin, SVP for digital and customer experience at Comcast. “We created Comcast RISE to give these business owners access to the tools and resources they need to survive the pandemic and thrive.”