Judi Townsend, owner of Oakland's Mannequin Madness, received a grant from Comcast. Credit: Comcast

This fall Comcast will be awarding $10,000 grants to small Oakland businesses led by people of color.  One hundred grants will be issued from the Comcast RISE Investment Fund, just within Oakland.  Businesses with 25 employees or fewer can apply for the grants between Oct. 1 and 14.  

Comcast RISE grants in Oakland:

100 grants totaling $1 million (each grant is $10,000)

Businesses must be POC-led, in Oakland, at least 3 years old, and have no more than 25 employees.

Apply online October 1-14.

Grants will be announced in late November and awarded in December.

The fund is intended to help these businesses grow as they navigate the challenges of the pandemic. 

A first round of grants was given out last year, and Judi Townsend, owner of Mannequin Madness in Oakland, and a city resident, has benefitted from the program twice. She got help producing and placing a TV commercial, and then with a technology makeover. Townsend’s business re-uses mannequins in a variety of creative ways. Read about how her quirky business started on her website

“Like many others, my small business was impacted by the pandemic. Thanks to the Comcast RISE program, I can reach new audiences,” Townsend said. “The application process was much more straightforward than other grants. I encourage my fellow eligible business owners to apply for the grant and technology or marketing makeovers.”

Judi Townsend

To drive awareness about the Comcast RISE Investment Fund and provide additional support, training and mentorship, Comcast has also awarded a $50,000 grant to the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. 

“The economic effects of the global pandemic have been felt worldwide including significant impacts here in Oakland,” said Barbara Leslie, President and CEO of the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. “We know that our small, local, woman-owned and Black, Indigenous, and people of color businesses — who are responsible for creating the beautiful tapestry we call home — have been disproportionately impacted by COVID.  We applaud Comcast’s vision, through the Comcast RISE Investment Fund, to ensure that small businesses that exist today can be a part of Oakland’s economic and social fabric both tomorrow and for many years to come.” 

The Investment Fund is the latest extension of Comcast RISE — which stands for Representation, Investment, Strength and Empowerment — a multi-year, multi-faceted initiative launched in 2020 to provide people of color-owned small businesses the opportunity to apply for marketing and technology services from Comcast Business and Effectv, the advertising sales division of Comcast Cable.  

Judi Townsend at her Oakland shop. Credit: Comcast

Grant recipients will also receive a complimentary 12-month membership to the coaching program from Ureeka, an online platform for entrepreneurs, to help them build skills, gain more customers and become financially stable.

Applications are due Oct. 14, and grants will be announced in November and awarded in December.  Eligible businesses can apply online at www.ComcastRISE.com, Oct 1-14 for one of the $10,000 grants.

If a small business, owned by people of color, is not eligible for the Comcast RISE Investment Fund, they can also apply for advertising and marketing support as well as technology resources — such as computer equipment and internet, voice and cybersecurity services — from Effectv and Comcast Business, respectively.

Comcast RISE is part of Comcast’s ongoing efforts to advance digital equity and help to 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.