BET LAUNCHES COVID-19 RELIEF FUND FOR BLACK COMMUNITIES
That’s the unofficial fundraising goal BET Networks has set for its new “Saving Our Selves” campaign, launched to help combat the racial disparities of the COVID-19 pandemic. And, thanks in part to the power of BET president Scott Mills’ network, several other prominent black business leaders personally pledged funds before the relief effort officially kicks off.
In the midst of the spiraling uncertainties prompted by the COVID-19 crisis, very little is clear. Government and health officials still have more questions than answers about the symptoms, duration, treatments and exact total of how many Americans have actually had the disease. But its disproportionately high physical and financial toll on black Americans is not in question.
Recognizing that government aid will take more time to reach those in need than they perhaps can bear, the media company, spurred on by Mills, jumped in. He also reached out to other members of the black business community, via the Black Economic Alliance (BEA)—a two-year-old political action committee committed to the economic progress of African Americans—to jump in with them.
“There are so many immediate needs around this pandemic,” said BEA Executive Director David Clunie in an interview by phone. “In our community, the problem is ten-fold.”
An email sent last week to members of the BEA inviting them to support the fund noted that BET and its parent company, ViacomCBS, have committed $2 million to the effort already, with two BET executives each individually pledging $100,000. Although he declined to share exact figures, Clunie said several of its members swiftly signed on, committing personal funds and inviting allies of the group to do so as well.
Much of the BEA’s eagerness to buttress BET’s effort derives from its relationship with Mills and the recognition that “the philanthropic community has been able to get relief resources to communities much more quickly than government at all levels, especially nonprofits that have existing relationships with local service providers and people in need.”
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