The season has turned to fall, the days are getting shorter, and the air is crisper. The calendar's turnover that typically ushers in thoughts of the holiday season has been overshadowed by the persistence of COVID-19 and its devastating effects on businesses. Across the country, there has been tremendous pressure on small businesses in particular to survive in the face of restrictions to combat COVID-19. Reports have shown that Black businesses have borne the brunt of the impact with almost 50% of Black owned business expected to not survive. Black-owned businesses have also had less access to relief via PPP funding. Against this onslaught of challenges, Comcast has officially launched Comcast RISE, a program initially focused to provide much-needed support and services to Black businesses.
Comcast RISE stands for "Representation, Investment, Strength, and Empowerment" and is first assisting Black-owned Businesses affected by Covid-19. After the initial rollout, there are plans to increase outreach to BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) businesses in the next round of applications, opening up in late November. Comcast RISE is the first salvo among other programs Comcast intends to release as part of a broader diversity, equity, and inclusion outreach. This outreach will include $100MM to combat systemic inequality.
Comcast RISE is both timely and ambitious as it harnesses the unique skills and capabilities of two Comcast divisions –– Comcast Business and Effectv. Comcast Business and Effectv are uniquely positioned relative to other organizations, as they are business units with specific small business expertise. This type of knowledge is precisely what many small businesses need at a critical juncture, which could mean life or death for fragile companies. Comcast RISE is a lifeline to get small businesses on sure footing and build in resilience for better days and is an example of Comcast's actionable support that extends beyond empty statements of advocacy.
The decision to lead from the front was both strategic and practical and relied on the DNA of Comcast. James Lavallee, vice president, marketing and sales development, says about Comcast involvement, "Comcast HQ is in Philly, but our employees live in a range of communities so the effect that the pandemic has had on small business is very real and it is something our community is very in touch with." The combination of lived experience and professional expertise gave Comcast valuable insight very early and formalized the Comcast RISE program. Lavallee goes on saying, "The data was showing two things: COVID-19 was crushing small business, and Black-owned businesses were disproportionally affected so it made sense to work within divisions that would be able to help right away in a way that would move the needle."
Comcast RISE leverages Comcast Business and Effectv to serve the small business community effectively. Comcast RISE provides a much-needed resource for small businesses precisely at the moment when those resources are most needed and the small businesses are least likely able to afford them. Comcast RISE consists of the following: (1) providing consulting services, including research, creative and marketing insights, (2) 90-day media campaigns (for those who have existing creative), (3) 30-second commercial production (for those who do not) plus the 90-day media schedule (4) Equipment and technology makeovers and (5) the opportunity for grants up to $10K(launching in the next round at the end of November).
"Comcast RISE is truly comprehensive and allows us to meet these businesses where they are while providing measurable value," says Lavallee. "The program acts like a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) that allows business owners to unearth relevant tactics that could be vital during a trying business cycle."
Lavallee's statements capture the essence of the tremendous promise that is built into Comcast RISE. When there is so little to celebrate, it is encouraging to see a program take shape specifically designed to support those who need it the most. Comcast RISE is a rare corporate win-win scenario that combines intent with need and purpose.
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