Following the success of our Ready for Business Fund with GSBA – Washington’s LGBTQ and allied chamber of commerce – we are expanding the relief effort this spring to provide $2,500 grants to more small businesses seeking financial assistance as the COVID-19 economic crisis continues. The fund is expanding its reach beyond the Seattle metro area to qualifying small businesses throughout Washington, with an $50,000 from Comcast and GSBA administrating the distribution.
The Ready for Business Fund was established in the summer of 2020 with a $100,000 investment from Comcast WA, and it supported more than 60 BIPOC-, LGBTQ-, and women-owned small businesses in the Seattle metro area last year. This second round will expand eligibility to small businesses located in rural areas of Washington that lack proximity to resources.
GSBA Still Seeking Support for the Fund: The second round of the fund was made possible by contributions from BECU, Comcast, T-Mobile, Symetra, Microsoft, and Harborstone Credit Union, but GSBA is still counting on large companies and investors across the state to show up for small businesses in need. Companies and individuals who want to contribute should contact Ilona Lohrey (she/her) at IlonaL@thegsba.org / (206) 363-9188, or visit the webpage at theGSBA.org/ready-for-business.
How to Apply: BIPOC, LGBTQ, and women-owned small businesses located in Washington that have been in business since March 2, 2020 may find more information at theGSBA.org/ready-for-business. Applications are open Monday, March 15- Friday, March 26, 2021. All grant applicants will be notified the week of April 12. The grant application is short and easy to complete. Submissions are reviewed by a committee of diverse volunteers from the GSBA and at-large community members. All grant recipients will receive wrap-around services from GSBA, including membership and consulting. Qualifying recipients who applied in the summer of 2020 but were not selected for a grant will also be considered during the second round.
According to GSBA, local small business owners reported a devastating economic impact last year, including up to 85 percent annual revenue loss, laying-off employees, and other significant losses. The most common uses for this grant money in 2020 included necessities such as paying for rent, bills, payroll, and groceries.
What is GSBA? GSBA is Washington State’s LGBTQ and allied chamber of commerce and is the largest of its kind in North America. The chamber represents over 1,400 small business, corporate, and nonprofit members who share the values of promoting diversity, equity, equality, and inclusion in the workplace. GSBA also advocates for small businesses in Washington and invests in the next generation of LGBTQ and allied leaders through the GSBA Scholarship & Education Fund. The Annual GSBA Business & Humanitarian Awards honor businesses, nonprofits, and community leaders who demonstrate excellence, community service and success in their business or profession. This year, GSBA Business & Humanitarian Awards GSBA recognized Comcast Washington and our Community Impact Director Diem Ly as “Champion for Small Business Recovery.”
What else is Comcast doing to help small businesses?
Comcast has announced RISE, an initiative created to help strengthen and empower small businesses hard hit by COVID-19 and social unrest. RISE, which stands for “Representation, Investment, Strength and Empowerment,” is designed to help small businesses owned by underrepresented groups over the next three years, by offering offer grants, media and marketing assistance, and technology upgrades. Comcast RISE grant applications are eligible to all local Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC)-owned, small businesses. They can apply at www.ComcastRISE.com