As part of its $100 million commitment to advance social justice and equity, Comcast announced on Sept. 14 that it will award $1 million in grants to 100 small businesses owned by people of color in King and Pierce Counties, as well as technology and marketing resources to eligible businesses in the area.
King and Pierce Counties are among six markets that also include Oakland, Houston, Miami, the Twin Cities, and Washington, D.C. that were selected to award a $10,000 grant to 100 local businesses from the Comcast RISE Investment Fund, for a total of $5 million across 600 businesses.
To be eligible, the business must have been in operation for three years or more, with 1 to 25 employees, and is at least 51% minority-owned.
Applicants will be evaluated and selected based on “the impact of COVID-19 and the recent civil unrest on the business, their families, and their communities,” David Mandapat, marketing director at Comcast, told the Northwest Asian Weekly. “We’re also taking into consideration how the business was able to pivot and continue forward, and how they were able to bring the communities up around them.”
Small businesses owned by people of color have been some of the hardest hit. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, between February and April 2020, the number of active Black-owned businesses declined by 41%, Latinx-owned businesses declined by 32%, and Asian-owned businesses dropped by 25%, versus just 21% for the general population.
Beginning Oct. 1 through Oct. 14, eligible small businesses can apply for these grants at ComcastRISE.com. Winners will be notified in November.
Mandapat assured the Northwest Asian Weekly that the application process will be streamlined, when asked how many hoops a business owner will have to jump through.
And if a business owner has limited English skills, Mandapat said Comcast is producing how-to videos in a variety of languages, including Chinese (traditional and simplified), Hmong, Japanese, Korean, Tagalog, and Vietnamese.
The application itself is in English only, Mandapat said. He added that Comcast will do how-to workshops if there’s enough demand.
Comcast has partnered with several organizations to help spread the word of these grants.
Mandapat said, “We have engaged virtually all of our long-standing community impact partners, including Seattle Goodwill, Asian Counseling and Referral Service, El Centro de la Raza, as well as multiple chambers, including the Seattle Southside Chamber, Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber, and other hyperlocal and multicultural chambers to help drive awareness.”
In addition to the Investment Fund, Comcast RISE, which stands for “Representation, Investment, Strength, and Empowerment,” provides the opportunity for businesses to apply for marketing services, a TV media campaign, and advertising and marketing consultations, and technology makeovers.
This is the second round of grants announced by the Comcast RISE Investment Fund. The first round—announced back in April—provided $5 million in grants to people of color-owned small businesses in Philadelphia, Houston, Atlanta, Chicago, and Detroit.