The broadcasting conglomerate awarded $5 million to small businesses in a grand commitment to support 13,000 small businesses of color by 2022.
Comcast selected Ark Republic to support its efforts to expand its readership by offering the boutique news organization the run of a commercial on over 50 cable stations, as well as marketing tips and a $9,000 grant to enhance its technology.
“Comcast’s grant came at such a critical time for Ark Republic. Like many other small businesses we were struggling during the pandemic and needed some support to keep going,” said Dr. Kaia Niambi Shivers, editor-in-chief at Ark Republic and its founder.
Comcast contacted Ark Republic December 2020, and have been working with them since in developing the commercial whose concept came from Kaia Shivers. Dr. Shivers also led in editing. As well, Comcast offered fiscal support. “With the grant, we’ve been able to keep our doors open and continue to contract reporters and journalists,” added Shivers.
Comcast’s RISE program aimed to provide often underfunded, neglected small businesses with resources to elevate business procedural and operational sustainability. This is especially true of minority and socially disadvantaged small business owners in the U.S. Unfortunately, the financial instability resulting from the pandemic has further complicated matters.
“According to the National Bureau of Economic Research…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. Comcast RISE was created to invest in the success of these critical businesses by providing valuable and practical support,” states the company’s site.
As support for creative, innovative spaces has continued to shrink, there are organizations that seek to highlight work and provide media support for socially disadvantaged businesses. In May, the corporation awarded 500 businesses in Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Houston and Philadelphia $10,000, $5 million in total via their Comcast RISE Investment Fund.
Along with a monetary grant, Comcast anticipates aiding recipients in various aspects of successful business support, including marketing consultations, a 90-day media schedule which broadcasts a self-curated commercial to over 50 stations across the U.S., and technological support and services for over a year.
To date, over 3,500 businesses in “422 cities across 34 states” have been selected as Comcast RISE recipients. The diverse business roster includes restaurants and childcare centers to retail shops, both virtual and brick and mortars.
The brainchild of media scholar and NYU professor, Dr. Shivers, the media revolution was launched in 2017. The organization prioritizes the various stories of underreported, often neglected perspectives both on domestic and international stages. Ark Republic also adds texture to familiar narratives by tackling media accessibility issues often emerging for communities of color. To date, the boutique news media company has worked with over 70 reporters and storytellers and has a network spanning three continents and the Diaspora en masse. Also, it’s sister organization, a project started by Ark Republic, is the largest free, public database of Black farmers, Black Farmers Index.
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