By James Lavallee, VP, Marketing & Sales Development at Effectv, a Comcast Company
In cities across the United States, small businesses are critical to the health and happiness of the community. But now, more than ever, small businesses are hurting. This is especially true among Black-owned businesses, as well as Hispanic and Asian American-owned small businesses, and is particularly the case in Philadelphia—a city close to our hearts here at Comcast.
Our company has been based in Philadelphia for over 50 years, and we fully embrace the distinctive greatness and strength of this exceptional city. That’s why we’re so pleased that Comcast recently launched its Comcast RISE initiative, which stands for “Representation, Investment, Strength and Empowerment.” The first phase of Comcast RISE focused on Black-owned small businesses and to date, more than 700 have been selected as recipients. This includes 142 businesses in Greater Philadelphia, from restaurants and salons to professional services and retail shops, with the next wave of recipients to be announced in March 2021.
The recipients will receive consulting, media, and creative production services from Effectv, the advertising sales division of Comcast Cable, or technology upgrades from Comcast Business, based on the specific needs. One notable recipient of the Comcast RISE program is Philadelphia’s well-loved fitness studio Fit Academy.
“The fitness and wellness industry has been among the most impacted by the pandemic and resulting stay-at-home orders. At the onset of the pandemic, I was applying for grants and looking for any kind of funding help to survive. And then I heard about Comcast RISE. Receiving this grant has been a godsend,” said Osayi Osunde, Owner and Co-founder of Fit Academy. “It’s been reassuring that people see the impact we’re trying to make from a health and wellness perspective, especially at a time when it’s critical to keep people healthy, both mentally and physically. We are grateful for the support the program has provided and how it’s allowed us to continue serving our community during this time.”
Comcast RISE brings together two of the company’s brands —Comcast Business and Effectv, both with expertise in the small business space — to empower business owners with the expertise and resources needed to navigate the economic effects of the pandemic.
The Comcast RISE program is rolling out in waves. As noted above, the first phase, which launched in October 2020, provided the opportunity for U.S. Black-owned small businesses to apply for marketing and technology services. The next phase, that rolled out in November 2020, opened eligibility to Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC)-owned, small businesses. Businesses can apply for these services at any time, as recipients are announced on an ongoing basis. Now, the Comcast RISE Investment Fund is launching, awarding $10,000 grants to 100 eligible businesses in the City of Philadelphia and the City of Chester, PA along with specified areas in four other cities (Houston, Atlanta, Detroit, Chicago), for a total of $5 million and 500 grants. The application window is March 1 – 14, and the grants will be awarded in May 2021.
Comcast RISE is part of a larger $100 million Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiative that Comcast launched this summer. In June, Comcast NBCUniversal announced the development of a comprehensive, multiyear plan to allocate $75 million in cash and $25 million in media over the next three years to fight injustice and inequality against any race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation or ability.
I’m proud to work for a company that actively helps those in the most need. By identifying businesses hardest hit by the pandemic in Philadelphia and other cities, we’re doing our part to help businesses like Fit Academy go the extra mile to get to the other side of a challenging year.
If you’d like to find out more about Comcast RISE, visit www.ComcastRISE.com.