In the aftermath of a yearslong global COVID-19 pandemic and social unrest, small businesses continue to struggle as the U.S. enters a period of economic recession. For people of color-owned and women-owned businesses in particular, the impact hit even harder.
In 2020, Black business ownership rates dropped 41 percent between February and April, according to a report by the House Committee on Small Business. That’s the largest decline of any racial group.
Essentially, the pandemic — alongside the 2020 summer uprisings for racial justice — highlighted and exacerbated many longstanding inequities faced by Black business owners, including systemic barriers such as their lack of access to capital.
That’s why Comcast is stepping in with its RISE Investment Fund, an effort to advance digital equity and help provide underrepresented small business owners with access to funding. Eligible businesses in Chicago, Miami, Oakland, Seattle and Washington, D.C. have until Oct. 16 to apply for a $10,000 grant.
You can find the application here.
“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 offer the opportunity for small businesses owned by people of color and women to help grow their businesses, create jobs, and play a vital role in supporting our communities.”
To date, more than 9,500 small businesses have received marketing, technology or grant support from the Comcast RISE program, which launched in October 2020.
For this latest round of funding, Comcast will award $5 million in 100 grants per city — or 500 grants overall — in November 2022, bringing the total to $21 million in grants awarded as part of the multi-year RISE Investment Fund initiative.
To be eligible, businesses must be owned by a woman or person of color. Additionally, businesses must have been in business for at least three years and have between one and 25 employees. These businesses must be located in Chicago, IL (Cook County), Miami, FL (Miami-Dade and Broward Counties), Oakland, CA (City of Oakland), Seattle, WA (King and Pierce Counties), Washington, D.C. (Wards 1-8).
“This new round of Comcast RISE Investment Fund grants will provide more entrepreneurs with the resources and tools they need to scale their businesses and thrive for years to come,” Ward-Maupin said.