Above: Viviana Rodriguez-Smith outside her gallery E14 located in Old Oakland.
Comcast will award $1 million in total grants to 100 Oakland small businesses owned by people of color. The recipients are among nearly 6,700 entrepreneurs nationwide who have been selected through the Comcast RISE program, which provides marketing, technology, and capital support to small business owners.
To further build on the program’s success and provide support to even more small businesses, Comcast also announced today a major expansion to eligibility, enabling all women-owned small businesses nationwide to apply. This expansion recognizes and seeks to help address the persistent inequities women continue to face in accessing the resources and funding that are critical to success.
Comcast RISE and the Comcast RISE Investment Fund, initially launched as a response to help small businesses owners of color hardest hit by the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, continue to focus on uplifting small businesses, ensuring they continue to prosper in an ever-shifting post-pandemic economy.
“The pandemic had a huge negative impact on our business. We had to shut our doors for several months and once we re-opened there wasn’t a lot of foot traffic here in downtown Oakland. We applied for several loans, but all were rejected,” said Viviana Rodriguez-Smith, co-owner of E14 Gallery in Old Oakland and one of the 100 RISE recipients. “The $10,000 grant from the Comcast RISE Investment Fund is giving me peace of mind. It will allow me to buy more inventory and continue collaborating with other artists in Oakland.”
“As we continue to rebuild and emerge from the effects of the pandemic, small businesses will continue to be the backbone of our economy – and we must take every opportunity to help them thrive,” said Dave Watson, President and CEO, Comcast Cable. “Looking forward, this expansion will enable Comcast RISE to further empower and strengthen even more small businesses that are the heart of our local communities across the country.”
In the year since its inception, Comcast RISE has awarded more than $11 million in grants and $50 million in in-kind support for marketing and technology services, impacting more than 6,700 entrepreneurs of color in 432 cities across 34 states. By the end of 2022, 13,000 businesses across the country are expected to benefit from the Comcast RISE initiative, either through the grant program or from the resources provided through Effectv and Comcast Business. In addition to the financial and business support services provided, a key part of the program is ensuring the long-term sustainability of businesses. To help address this, Comcast invests in and partners with organizations such as Ureeka to provide ongoing mentorship and resources to help small businesses succeed over the long-term.
Comcast RISE, which stands for Representation, Investment, Strength, and Empowerment, is part of Project UP, Comcast’s comprehensive initiative to advance digital equity and help provide underrepresented small business owners with access to the digital tools and funding they need to thrive. Over the next 10 years, Comcast has committed $1 billion to programs and partnerships that will reach an estimated 50 million people with the skills, opportunities, and resources they need to succeed in an increasingly digital world.
The program will continue to be open to racially and ethnically diverse small business owners and the expanded Comcast RISE eligibility to all women-owned businesses will be effective on January 16, 2022.
More information and the applications to apply for either the grant program or marketing and technology services are available at www.ComcastRISE.com.