On October 13, 2020, Comcast Corporation launched Comcast RISE, an initiative created to help strengthen and empower small businesses that were hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over the next three years, Comcast RISE will help thousands of small businesses with this multi-step program by offering grants, marketing and technology upgrades, including media campaigns and connectivity, computer and voice equipment, as well as free marketing insights to all applicants.

Phase one of this initiative will include the opportunity for U.S.-based, Black-owned, small businesses to apply for marketing and technology support and equipment to jumpstart and help sustain business operations. The next wave of the program will open up eligibility to include Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC), those who were next hit the hardest by the effects of the pandemic.

“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. “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.”

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 this year. 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.

Teresa Ward-Maupin, SVP for Digital and Customer Experience at Comcast Business said, “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.”

She continued, “We created Comcast RISE to give these business owners access to the tools and resources they need to survive the pandemic and thrive.”

Comcast RISE, which stands for “Representation, Investment, Strength and Empowerment,” is part of a larger $100 million Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiative that Comcast launched this summer. It was launched to help the hardest-hit small business owners get a fresh start and boost their operations during the global pandemic.

As a joint effort, Comcast RISE merges two of the company’s brands, Comcast Business and Effectv, which both have expertise in the small business space. Together, they hope to provide business owners with the tools, expertise and resources needed to navigate the economic effects of the pandemic.

As the Comcast RISE initiative proceeds over the next three years, the company hopes to expand their efforts to other small and diverse business owners.

Comcast Advertising Chief Marketing Officer, Maria Weaver said, “We’re proud and humbled to support those hit hardest by the pandemic, and provide them with marketing and technology support at a time when they need it the most.”

To learn more about the Comcast RISE initiative and its main components, click HERE.