Comcast headquarters

Comcast launches Comcast RISE, a program aimed strengthening and empowering small businesses hard hit by COVID-19. — TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO BY ABDUL SULAYMAN

Comcast has launched Comcast RISE, a program aimed at strengthening small businesses hard hit by COVID-19.

The new initiative aims to help thousands of small businesses during the next three years. The multi-faceted program offers grants, marketing and technology upgrades, including media campaigns and connectivity, computer and voice equipment, as well as free marketing insights to all applicants.

Small businesses have been particularly hard hit by the pandemic. A recent study from the National Bureau of Economic Research found that the number of U.S. active business owners dropped from 15 million to 11.7 million from February to April. The study cited that Black-owned small businesses were hardest hit, suffering the steepest decline (41 percent), followed by Hispanic and Asian American-owned small businesses.

“We see and know firsthand how vital small businesses are in powering economic growth, recovery and innovation,” Teresa Ward-Maupin, senior vice president for Digital and Customer Experience at Comcast Business said in a news release.

“Now more than ever, driving awareness and maintaining a strong digital presence are crucial for these businesses to succeed. We created Comcast RISE to give these business owners access to the tools and resources they need to survive the pandemic and thrive.”

The program will roll out in waves and U.S.-based Black-owned small businesses can now apply for marketing and technology support and equipment to jumpstart and help them sustain business operations. In addition, all small businesses are able to sign up for free marketing insights and resources. Starting Nov. 28, the next wave of the program opens up eligibility to include all Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) small business owners.

Ron Busby, president/CEO, U.S. Black Chambers, Inc., said that Black-owned businesses, which have never recovered from the great recession, have been ravaged by COVID-19.

“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,” he said in a news release.

“Comcast RISE will help Black businesses adapt to the changing landscape and position them to be leaders in America’s burgeoning online to offline economy. USBC commends Comcast for starting this program and for their hands-on support of Black-owned businesses, because advancing Black businesses advances us all.”

Comcast RISE is part of a larger $100 million diversity, equity and inclusion initiative that the company launched this summer.

For information about eligibility requirements visit https://www.comcastrise.com/

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