Viviana Rodriguez-Smith, co-owner of Gallery E14 in Old Oakland, received a Comcast RISE grant for small businesses. Credit: Comcast RISE

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In January, the Comcast RISE program is expanding eligibility to small businesses owned by women of all backgrounds, giving them access to marketing and technology support directly from Comcast.  

In expanding the program to all women-owned small businesses, Comcast RISE recognizes and seeks to help address the persistent inequities that women continue to face in accessing resources critical to success.  

Grant application starts Jan. 16.  Information and applications are at www.ComcastRISE.com.

Comcast recently awarded $1 million in grants to 100 Oakland small businesses owned by people of color. Launched to help diverse small businesses hardest hit by the economic impacts of COVID-19, Comcast RISE — which stands for Representation, Investment, Strength, and Empowerment — focuses on uplifting small businesses and ensuring they can survive in the uncertain economy still reeling from the pandemic. The grant program provides marketing, technology, and capital support to small business owners.

Viviana Rodriguez-Smith received one of the Comcast RISE grants in November. She is co-owner of E14 Gallery in Old Oakland, which showcases local artists with deep ties to Oakland.  

“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,” Rodriguez-Smith said. “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.” 

Other grant recipients this month included Cafe Gabriela in downtown Oakland, Tuani Lash on Piedmont Avenue, and Mannequin Madness near the Embarcadero. All the Oakland businesses, and 200-plus more in California, that have received awards since 2020 can be found in the Comcast RISE Business Directory.  

Clara Grant co-owns Tuani Lash, which received a Comcast RISE grant. Credit: Don Feria/AP Images for Comcast

Sweepstakes to promote small-businesses

Comcast, in partnership with The Oaklandside, is further promoting these businesses with a “Shop Local” sweepstakes. Shoppers can win prizes — including a 50-inch Comcast XClass Smart TV, tickets to The Golden State Warriors, The Oakland A’s, and the Fox Theater — by taking a photo of themselves at an Oakland RISE business and posting it on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook using the hashtag #OaklandsideRISE.  Learn more and enter the sweepstakes here.

The Oakland grant recipients are among nearly 6,700 entrepreneurs nationwide who have been selected already. With the upcoming expansion to all women-owned small businesses, the Comcast RISE program is on track to support 13,000 businesses by the end of 2022, either through the grant program or from the resources provided through Effectv and Comcast Business. Comcast RISE is a multi-year, multi-faceted initiative launched to provide small businesses owned by people of color and women with the opportunity to apply for marketing and technology services from Comcast Business and Effectv, the advertising sales division of Comcast Cable. 

Comcast RISE 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. Comcast has committed $1 billion, over the next 10 years, 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.