Fort Bend County small businesses of color share in $1 million in Comcast grants

Fort Bend County small businesses of color share in $1 million in Comcast grants

One hundred small business owners of color from Fort Bend and Harris counties learned Nov. 23 that they would receive $10,000 grants from Comcast to aid in recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The one-time grants from the Comcast RISE Investment Fund are the second round of a total of $2 million in funding in the counties this year. RISE stands for representation, investment, strength and empowerment. Comcast originally started the program to support small businesses battling hardships amid the pandemic, but the global media and technology company plans to carry it into the future.

“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,” said 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.”

The 100 grant recipients are just some of the nearly 6,700 businesses nationwide that have been helped by more than $11 million in grants and $50 million in marketing resources like TV commercials and technology resources such as laptops and security services. Businesses from across the Houston area — not just Fort Bend and Harris counties — have received the marketing and technology resources. Comcast announced it plans to have helped 13,000 businesses by the end of 2022.

Comcast spokesperson Foti Kallergis said actions today change the future, and that’s at the center of the Comcast RISE program.

“Today, we’re making a tangible and meaningful impact for the future of our small business community,” Kallergis said. “Today, through the Comcast RISE Investment Fund, we are for the second time this year, as Judge George said, we are energizing 100 small businesses in the Houston region.”

Fort Bend County has offered its own grants for small businesses affected by the pandemic. Gonzalo Arjona owns Groove Music School in Sugar Land and hosted the news conference where Fort Bend County stakeholders and business owners gathered to announce the Comcast RISE grant recipients. He has benefited from the county grants and was also selected to receive a Comcast RISE grant.

The school started in 2015 and teaches children and adults to play a variety of instruments. Arjona said the pandemic greatly hurt business. Lessons went completely online for more than a year. Arjona lost about 50 percent of his students. Arjona had 15 teachers prior to the pandemic, but he was forced to make layoffs. He currently has 10.

“But fortunately, we were able to stay alive. We were able to keep enough students to keep us through the year,” Arjona explained. “When times got really tough, Fort Bend County came through with a couple of grants for which I’m grateful, but my landlord is more grateful than I am. Thank you for letting us keep the bills paid.”

He said he was grateful to Comcast and excited for the $10,000 grant.

Most lessons are back to in person. Business is edging back, at about 80 percent of where it was before the pandemic. Now, Arjona is continually working to recover. He plans to use most of the grant funds for bonuses for his teachers, which he called his biggest assets, and to put the rest toward operational costs.

The Comcast RISE program falls under Project UP, a comprehensive campaign to forge digital equity and offer digital tools and funding to underrepresented small business owners. Comcast plans to pump $1 billion into communities through programs and partnerships over the next 10 years, a news release stated.

Kallergis announced Comcast would soon extend the Comcast RISE grants and resources to businesses owned by women nationwide in an effort to further the program’s success and reach. The release noted the expansion recognizes inequities women encounter in finding the resources and funding they need to make their businesses successful. All woman-owned businesses across will be eligible beginning Jan. 16, 2022.

As there were stakeholders present from different parts of Fort Bend County even though Groove Music School is in Sugar Land, George said businesses in the county know no boundaries: they work together toward shared success.

“This is what I love about our country,” he said. “This is what I love about our state, our county, our city. All that. We care about our small businesses. Small businesses are the backbone of our country.”

George urged small businesses to look into the county’s grants which are still available and mentioned the new business mentorship program that recently graduated a class. He also encouraged owners to get involved with area chambers of commerce that have a range of resources.

To learn more about the Comcast Rise program, visit

Related Post