Charter Communications on June 11 announced the company will invest $10 million in partnership with both the National Urban League (NUL) and National Action Network (NAN) to support black and other minority-owned small businesses in underserved communities. The company says the investment will help strengthen small businesses and provide a long-term economic impact vital to the continued development and growth of these communities.
Charter's Spectrum Community Investment Loan Fund will invest $3 million in NUL's community development financial institution (CDFI), the Urban Empowerment Fund (UEF), which will make individual loans to minority-owned small businesses. Additionally, under the direction of and on behalf of NAN, the Loan Fund will invest an additional $3 million in low-interest loans directly to CDFIs. In addition, Charter will provide $3.5 million in PSA value to promote its partners' Loan Fund opportunities, and will contribute a $500,000 capacity grant to the NUL for revitalizing its CDFI platform including funding for staffing, infrastructure, and operations.
"In all communities, small business ownership and growth are fundamental to developing and sustaining economic power, which is critical to their long-term success," said Tom Rutledge, chairman and CEO of Charter Communications. "Building on our valued partnerships with the National Urban League and National Action Network, these investments will support small diverse-owned businesses through access to much-needed low-interest capital and help build thriving communities across the country."
The NUL's small business lending subsidiary, UEF, provides loans and coaching to minority-owned businesses that provide jobs and revenue to economically distressed areas and other underserved communities.
"Small black-owned businesses, a primary economic driver in black neighborhoods, are less likely to be approved for loans than their white-owned counterparts, and when they are approved, they receive smaller amounts and at higher interest rates," said Marc H. Morial, National Urban League President and CEO. "As we face the most daunting economic landscape since the Great Depression, committed and enlightened partners like Charter are more valued than ever before. Charter is helping the National Urban League build stronger and more stable communities that create opportunity for prosperity."
"In order to achieve the economic equality we want to see, we need to support our black businesses and our black entrepreneurs," said Reverend Al Sharpton, founder of NAN. "For too long, our talented black communities have been deprived of low interest loans, capital and a myriad of resources to help black businesses thrive and prosper, a reality that has lasted decades, inhibiting us from playing and competing in a level playing field. This partnership is one more step to address the systemic scarcity in our communities and to underscore much needed investment to turn the tide of inequity."
In February, Charter launched the Loan Fund, committing to invest an initial $10 million in capital by the end of 2021 by making low-interest loans through CDFIs to small businesses whose goods and services help meet core needs in underserved communities within Charter's 41-state operating footprint. With the addition of the investment partnerships with the NUL and NAN, Charter's Loan Fund commitment has increased to $13 million, and the NUL UEF investment represents the fourth made by the Loan Fund in the past four months.
Charter previously announced $1 million investments in Pursuit Community Finance in New York, PeopleFund in Texas, and the Economic and Community Development Institute (ECDI) in Ohio. Over the next year, the Loan Fund expects to invest an additional $4 million across CDFIs in California, Florida, North Carolina and Wisconsin, in addition to the $3 million into CDFIs as directed by NAN.
In addition to the loans, each CDFI receives a grant to fund technical assistance programs and professional training for small businesses to help establish sound business practices necessary for long-term growth and continuity. These grants have recently been made to provide support to businesses impacted by COVID-19.
Learn more at corporate.charter.com.