The COVID-19 pandemic seems to be wreaking havoc in every way, but especially economically. And small businesses are especially experiencing this, as many are struggling without the cash reserves that big businesses may have access to. And while the government included forgivable loans (like the Paycheck Protection Program) in the CARES act, to help businesses, that funding seemed to not proportionally go to underserved communities. Another round of Paycheck Protection Program funding was recently passed, but obviously many small-medium sized businesses still need help. And so, recently, Verizon awarded 10k grants to almost 250 small businesses, in their first round of grant funding.
These grant awards are especially important because of how they went to help minority and women-owned businesses, both of which have been traditionally underserved in funding.
Here are the numbers:
Of these grant recipients, 62% of these businesses were owned by women, with 96% of small-business being minority-owned, 12% are owned by veterans, and 87% are located in distressed areas.
These funds were actually given by Verizon to a nonprofit partner with a strong history of social responsibility, and disaster relief, namely the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC).
Here’s how the process worked:
55,000 applicants applied for this grant funding, with priority given to applicant businesses that were minority/women/veteran-owned, located in underserved locations, as well as by geographic location. The top 3,000 applicants were then entered into a lottery, and then semi-finalists were re-evaluated, and then the recipients were chosen based on that pool of applicants.
Rose Stuckey Kirk, Verizon’s Chief Corporate Social Responsibility Officer had this to say about the grants being awarded:
“Verizon recognizes how valuable small businesses are and that the economic stability of our communities is based on their success, It’s critical that we lean in and support these businesses so they can continue to sustain themselves during this unprecedented time of need.”