Shaquille O’Neal is teaming up with American Express (AMEX) to launch a $10 million grant to assist Black-owned small businesses with their post-COVID recovery.
According to Billboard, O’Neal’s “Coalition to Back Black Businesses” has pledged a $10 million commitment to several Black-owned establishments over the next four years. A section of the grant will also go towards business mentoring and leadership development.
“Small businesses need our support now more than ever. Black businesses have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic,” the former NBA superstar told the outlet. “You tell people, ‘Stay in your house four months, don’t leave don’t go out.’ It’s a shame 40 million Americans have lost their jobs, but in these Black communities with Black businesses, a lot of people have lost their lifelong jobs. I’m happy to support the first ever ‘Coalition of Black Businesses.’”
“Not only are we giving money,” he added, “but we give mentorship to help get their businesses to the next level.”
The eligible Black business owners will be considered for a $5,000 grant. Application submissions will be accepted until Sep. 21 at webackblackbusinesses.com. The program will choose 280 finalists who will then be asked to complete a more in-depth application, which will be due on Sep. 28.
Special consideration will be given to female business owners. Organizers want at least 25% of the winners to be woman-owned businesses.
“Amex has helped me out a lot,” he said. “Just recently, a couple of schools in my hometown needed laptops. American Express pitched in, and I pitched in, and we were able to get, I think, two or three schools outfitted with laptops so they could do the online schooling. But listen, American Express, we’ve been partnering for a long time, and they’ve supported me in all my stuff.”