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Comcast Corporation has launched Comcast RISE, an initiative created to help strengthen and empower small and diverse businesses hard hit by COVID-19.

The Comcast RISE program will help thousands of small businesses over the next three years. The multi-faceted program offers grants, marketing and technology upgrades, including media campaigns and connectivity, computer and voice equipment, as well as free marketing insights to all applicants.

U.S. small businesses have been particularly hard hit by the pandemic. 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.

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.

The program will roll out in waves, and starting today, U.S.-based small Black-owned businesses can apply for marketing and technology support and equipment to jumpstart and help them sustain business operations like real estate hosting websites.

In addition, all small businesses are able to sign up for free marketing insights and resources. The next wave opens up program eligibility to Hispanic and Asian Americans, those next hit hardest by the effects of the pandemic.

Comcast decided to launch RISE, which stands for “Representation, Investment, Strength and Empowerment”, to help the hardest-hit small business owners get a fresh start and boost their operations during this difficult time. Comcast RISE brings together two of the company’s brands

— Comcast Business and Effectv, both with expertise in the small business space—to help empower business owners with the tools, expertise and resources needed to navigate the economic effects of the pandemic.

“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,” said Teresa Ward-Maupin, SVP for Digital and Customer Experience at Comcast Business. “We created Comcast RISE to give these business owners access to the tools and resources they need to survive the pandemic and thrive.”

To learn more about the Comcast RISE initiative, click here.