Sonny Messiah Jiles (in red) and Family

The Defender Network is one of 100 Houston area businesses to receive the prestgious Comcast RISE Investment Fund grant. Comcast recently announced the 100 small business recipients, each of which who will receive a one-time $10,000 grant from the fund.

More than 100 businesses in the area will also receive technology and marketing resources.

The recipients are among nearly 6,700 entrepreneurs nationwide who have been selected through the Comcast RISE program, which provides marketing, technology, and capital support to small business owners.

“We are proud of all of our small businesses, the impact they have in Fort Bend County is invaluable. Many of our business owners, particularly our minority owned businesses, have faced unprecedented challenges over the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and require a wide range of support to help their businesses survive,” stated Fort Bend County Judge KP George. “The Comcast Rise Investment Fund Grant provides these business owners with the critical financial lifeline and the resources needed so they can sustain and grow their businesses.”

Misha McClure of Comcast speaks with Sonny Messiah Jiles during a March 2020 event. Photo by Aswad Walker.

Through Comcast RISE, the company also announced it is on track to support 13,000 small businesses by the end of the year with marketing or technology support such as a TV campaign, production of a TV commercial or consulting services from Effectv, the advertising sales division of Comcast Cable, or computer equipment, internet, voice or cybersecurity services from Comcast Business.  

“Since we launched Comcast RISE a year ago, we have assisted more than 200 small businesses throughout the Houston area with either marketing, technology, or monetary grants. This round of Comcast RISE grants will provide even more small business owners of color with the resources and tools they need to thrive,” said Ralph Martinez, senior vice president for Comcast’s Houston region. “We look forward to empowering their success.” To further build on the program’s success and provide support to even more small businesses, Comcast also announced today a major expansion to eligibility, enabling all women-owned small businesses nationwide to apply. This expansion recognizes and seeks to help address the persistent inequities women continue to face in accessing the resources and funding that are critical to success.

Foti Kallergis, Director Public Relations and External Communications and KP George, Ft. Bend County JudgePHOTO-COURTESY-OF-COMCAST

Comcast RISE and the Comcast RISE Investment Fund, initially launched as a response to help small businesses owners of color hardest hit by the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, continue to focus on uplifting small businesses, ensuring they continue to prosper in an ever-shifting post-pandemic economy.

“As we continue to rebuild and emerge from the effects of the pandemic, small businesses will continue to be the backbone of our economy – and we must take every opportunity to help them thrive,” said Dave Watson, President and CEO, Comcast Cable. “Looking forward, this expansion will enable Comcast RISE to further empower and strengthen even more small businesses that are the heart of our local communities across the country.”

In the year since its inception, Comcast RISE has awarded more than $11 million in grants and $50 million in in-kind support for marketing and technology services, impacting more than 6,700 entrepreneurs of color in 432 cities across 34 states. By the end of 2022, 13,000 businesses across the country are expected to benefit from the Comcast RISE initiative, either through the grant program or from the resources provided through Effectv and Comcast Business. In addition to the financial and business support services provided, a key part of the program is ensuring the long-term sustainability of businesses. To help address this, Comcast invests in and partners with organizations such as Ureeka to provide ongoing mentorship and resources to help small businesses succeed over the long-term.

Defender Network Managing Editor ReShonda Tate interviewing gospel music superstar Brian Courtney Wilson. Photo by Aswad Walker.

Comcast RISE, which stands for Representation, Investment, Strength, and Empowerment, 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. 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.

The program will continue to be open to racially and ethnically diverse small business owners and the expanded Comcast RISE eligibility to all women-owned businesses will be effective on January 16, 2022. More information and the applications to apply for either the grant program or marketing and technology services are available at www.ComcastRISE.com.

To help drive outreach and awareness about Comcast RISE and provide additional support, training and mentorship, Comcast has also awarded $50,000 in grants to local community partners – Houston Hispanic Chamber, Houston Black Chamber, Empresarios Latinos Foundation, Houston LGBT Chamber, Asian Chamber of Commerce, Greater Houston Women’s Foundation and East End Chamber of Commerce.