Verizon Pledges $7.5M to Funding Businesses in 'Economically Vulnerable Communities'
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Verizon Pledges $7.5M to Funding Businesses in 'Economically Vulnerable Communities'

Black businesses are struggling to survive the impact of COVID-19, but there’s been an outpour of support from major networks and corporations to help revive small businesses and alleviate stress from entrepreneurs. 

As part of their $7.5 Million Small Business Recovery Fund, telecommunications company Verizon announced that they are distributing $10,000 grants to minority businesses to pull through the pandemic, according to Black Enterprise.

“Verizon recognizes how valuable small businesses are and that the economic stability of our communities is based on their success,” said Rose Stuckey Kirk, Chief Corporate Social Responsibility Officer of Verizon, in a press release. “It’s critical that we lean in and support these businesses so they can continue to sustain themselves during this unprecedented time of need.”

Black Enterprise reported that of the recipients, 62 percent are women-owned businesses, 96 percent are minority-owned, 12 percent are veteran-owned, and 87 percent are in distressed areas.

Verizon’s donation to these businesses comes from the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC, a national nonprofit that invests in affordable housing, economic development, and jobs.

“We are focusing our funding on economically vulnerable communities, which tend to have a large number of women-owned, minority-owned, and veteran-owned businesses, because they are often unable to access traditional relief programs,” Maurice A. Jones, Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC) president and CEO, shared with Black enterprise via email. “We have to be intentional about investing in their future to ensure our national recovery succeeds.”

Together, Verizon and LISC announced that the first round of over 200 recipients from all over the country will each receive $10,000 grants to support their small businesses, help them meet payroll, pay rent and address any additional immediate operational needs.

The $7.5 million fund Verizon has pledged includes an additional $2.5 million to ensure there will be both a second and third round of grant recipients.

“The overwhelming response received from the first round of applicants stressed the urgent need for additional funding,” said Stuckey Kirk.

In addition to their fund, Verizon has also been rallying support for businesses affected by the pandemic through a weekly streaming series called Pay It Forward, as well as partnerships with Hello Alice, American Express’ “Stand for Small” program, a free webinar series, and a free one-year subscription to Yahoo’s Business Maker.