**FILE** Courtesy of comcast.com
**FILE** Courtesy of comcast.com

Comcast announced Tuesday that it has awarded $6 million of grants to several metropolitan regions for small businesses owned by people of color, including $1 million for D.C.-area businesses.

D.C. is one of six metropolitan regions — including Houston, Miami, Oakland, Seattle and the Twin Cities — selected to each distribute $10,000 grants to 100 local businesses through the Comcast RISE Investment Fund.

The telecommunications giant has also partnered with Ureeka, an online platform for entrepreneurs, to provide grant recipients with business coaching to help build skills in company foundation, growing customers and financial stability.

“Ureeka is proud of the commitment that Comcast is making to entrepreneurs of color, and we are humbled to be a part of this program,” said Melissa Bradley, Ureeka co-founder. “We know there are stark racial disparities in access to capital and resources for entrepreneurs of color — in fact, studies show that business owners of color are twice as likely as all business owners to report ‘lack of access to business loans/credit’ as a reason for closure. This program helps bridge the gap between survival and failure [amid the COVID-19] pandemic. which continues to further exaggerate systemic injustices. The additional coaching and community connections that these businesses receive, in addition to monetary funding or services, will help these businesses gain valuable skills and opportunities that will help them move from survive to thrive.”

All Comcast RISE recipients will also have a specialized online networking community within Ureeka with access to educational resources, sources of capital, and vetted experts such as U.S. Black Chambers, National Asian Pacific Islander Chamber of Commerce & Entrepreneurship, U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Association for Enterprise Opportunity, Walker’s Legacy and Operation Hope.

Comcast says that by the end of 2022, the RISE initiative will have supported 13,000 small businesses owned by people of color with monetary grants, a TV campaign, production of a TV commercial or consulting services from Effectv, or computer equipment, internet, voice or cybersecurity from Comcast Business.

“When we launched Comcast RISE, we knew a profound need existed in many of the communities we serve,” said Michael Parker, Comcast senior vice president for the beltway region. “We have now seen firsthand the program’s positive impact on business owners and their suppliers and customers up and down their resource chains — and we’re thrilled to be introducing the Investment Fund with $1 million in grants to D.C.-based, people-of-color-owned small businesses.”

Comcast RISE was formed in late 2020 to give small businesses owned by people of color, from bakeries and barbershops to child care centers and cleaning services, the tools needed to not just survive, but thrive. The 4,700 recipients are from 422 cities across 34 states.

In addition to the Investment Fund, Comcast RISE, which stands for “Representation, Investment, Strength and Empowerment,” provides the opportunity for small businesses owned by people of color nationwide to apply for one or more of the following support focus areas with the opportunity to receive one:

• Marketing Services: The following services from Effectv, the advertising sales division of Comcast Cable, and its creative agency, Mnemonic, are designed to help recipients with their marketing and media campaigns, including:
• Media: A linear TV media campaign to run over a 90-day period.
• Creative Production: Turnkey 30-second TV commercial production, plus a media strategy consultation and a 90-day linear TV media campaign.
• Consulting: Advertising and marketing consultations with local Effectv marketing, research and creative teams to gain insights on how to drive business.
• Technology Makeovers: The state-of-the-art equipment and technology upgrade from Comcast Business includes computer equipment as well as internet, voice and cybersecurity services for up to a 12-month period. (Taxes and other fees may still apply for tech makeover services.)
• Monetary Grants: As noted above, the Comcast RISE Investment Fund will provide $6 million in grants to 600 BIPOC-owned small businesses in six cities: Houston, Miami, Oakland, Seattle, the Twin Cities, and Washington, D.C.

All small-business owners can go to the Comcast RISE destination on Xfinity X1, which features aggregated small-business news, resources, Comcast RISE recipient stories and more. The destination is designed to help businesses grow by empowering them through inspiration, education and entertainment. Just say “Comcast RISE” into the X1 voice remote.

More information and the applications to apply for either the grant program or marketing and technology services are available at www.comcastrise.com.

Go to www.comcastrise.com to apply, for more information and the latest updates.

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WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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