AT&T Teams Up with Organizations in Philadelphia to Promote Economic Empowerment in Black and Underserved Communities

AT&T Blog Team
September 10, 2020
Community Impact

AT&T Teams Up with Organizations in Philadelphia to Promote Economic Empowerment in Black and Underserved Communities

AT&T is working with organizations in Philadelphia to create economic opportunities and foster upward mobility for Black and underserved communities who face long-standing social inequities and higher unemployment, all of which are exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unemployment for Black Americans in the United States reached 16.8% in May, the highest it’s been in more than a decade.   Equally troubling is the impact the pandemic has had on Black-owned businesses in Philadelphia.  The number of active Black business owners fell by 68% from early March to July, according to the Census Bureau estimate.[1]

The Hispanic community in Philadelphia experiences a 40% poverty rate.[2] And, according to the Latino Business Action Network (LBAN), 86% of Hispanic businesses surveyed had experienced significant detrimental impact because of the pandemic. Moreover, 65% report not being able to survive more than six months if current conditions persist. [3]

The pandemic’s outsized impact on Black and Brown job prospects, coupled with current social unrest, highlights the need to address current barriers to economic success and upward mobility in Black and underserved communities in Philadelphia and nationwide.

At AT&T, we are working with community leaders and non-profit organizations in Philadelphia to create pathways to economic empowerment and social equality.  To that end, we’re announcing a combined $180,000 in contributions to four city organizations.

Local leaders speak out

Many companies talk about supporting racial and economic equality, but talk is not enough,” said Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney. “I commend AT&T for doing much more by investing in organizations that provide greater opportunities for historically underserved communities and people of color. These donations will also help strengthen small businesses, the backbone of our local economy.”

“It’s on all of us to tackle past inequalities in our justice system that have held Black, Brown, Latinx and other underserved and marginalized communities back from having the opportunity to learn new skills, access educational and social services, and get insights and support for starting or growing a business. It’s imperative that to begin to right these wrongs, government leaders, nonprofit organizations, and the private sector combine their resources and work together. We have much more to accomplish, but these local organizations teaming up with AT&T is a step in the right direction for Philadelphia,” said Pennsylvania state Rep. Jordan Harris, who also serves as the House Democratic Caucus Whip for the 2019-20 legislative session.

“As a legislator, I am well aware that the actions of the public sector can only go so far in addressing issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. We also need the commitment of the private sector, including our nation’s biggest businesses,” said City Council Majority Leader Cherelle Parker.  “AT&T is doing just that by providing direct, targeted contributions to organizations that are working to promote economic opportunity specifically for Black- and Brown-owned small businesses. These businesses are the heart of our neighborhood commercial corridors, and they have been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic and civil unrest. We must ensure not just their continued existence, but their continued success.”

“The global pandemic combined with calls for reforms to promote racial equality present an opportunity for the region’s business community to work in concert with numerous public and private partners. We applaud AT&T’s work to promote economic growth in underserved communities in partnership with these organizations as well as their continued support of the Chamber’s Roadmap for Growth initiative working in commercial corridors and neighborhoods throughout Philadelphia,” said Rob Wonderling, president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia. “AT&T’s active engagement in the Chamber’s Philadelphia Regional Recharge and Recovery initiative to re-energize the regional economy as the area begins to recuperate from the impact if COVID-19 and address the need for greater economic empowerment and equity for all citizens is another example of their continued commitment to our city and region.”

AT&T is collaborating with the following organizations:

  • Community College of Philadelphia Foundation: “Power Up Your Business” is a collaboration of the Community College of Philadelphia (CCP), the City of Philadelphia Commerce Department, Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp and others.  It provides training and business development tools to existing and aspiring small business owners who serve as building blocks of daily commerce in Philadelphia’s neighborhoods.  AT&T contributed $80,000, which will fund two Power Up Your Business Startup Accelerator cohorts and help 30 entrepreneurs launch or grow their business.
    • “Community College of Philadelphia is grateful for the support from AT&T to provide enhanced opportunities for local businesses during this difficult time,” said Dr. Donald Guy Generals, president of CCP. “This work directly relates to the College’s longstanding commitment to fighting racial and socioeconomic inequalities in our neighborhoods through workforce and economic development efforts. Through our Power Up Your Business program and our other initiatives, we have seen firsthand the benefits of providing quality training, technical assistance, coaching and mentoring to the minority- and women-owned businesses serving as the foundations of our communities. We are eager to continue and expand this work, especially as we rebuild the building blocks of our communities hardest hit by the pandemic.”
  • MenzFit: This organization helps low-income men prepare for gainful employment and financial fitness. The organization provides professional interview clothing, career development and financial literacy services.  AT&T contributed $40,000 to support the “Face It, We’re All in this Together” campaign to better deliver services virtually.
    • “On behalf of the board, MenzFit is thrilled to continue the relationship with AT&T and greatly appreciate the generous donation.  When the business community and nonprofits come together, we all benefit,” said Rhonda E. Willingham, president and founder, MenzFit.
  • Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (GPHCC): AT&T contributed $30,000 to support the Recalibrate, Retool, Restart (R+) Initiative, which was created to help Latinx-owned businesses recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The program was launched in June and consists of individualized and group-based technical assistance (online and in-person as permitted under public health guidelines), COVID-19 relief program application assistance, business management education, supplier diversity matchmaking/business development opportunities, and the development of an online video library with content relevant to small businesses.
    • “Successfully re-integrating into the economy in the ‘new normal’ involves more than simply turning on the lights. New regulations and customer needs require that businesses re-imagine and retool their operations, and this is especially challenging for small businesses in our community. AT&T’s support ensures that GPHCC is well positioned to provide the culturally competent and language accessible technical assistance and resources that Hispanic entrepreneurs need to overcome the challenges presented by COVID-19,” said Jennifer I. Rodríguez, MCP, president and CEO of the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
  • West Philadelphia Corridor Collaborative: This organization is a network of business stakeholders that together form a single entrepreneurship engine that accelerates growth for local small businesses.  The Collaborative strengthens communities by helping residents achieve self-sufficiency by starting new businesses and supporting and growing existing businesses with the access to opportunity, resources, capital and connections they need to grow and hire. AT&T contributed $30,000 to support the Technology Repair POP-Up Initiative, which helps repairs phones, computers and other devices that people are increasingly relying on for learning, job search and work.
    • “We are thankful to AT&T for supporting our initiative and excited to work together in ensuring that employees, students, and jobseekers have access to the quality home technology required in this ever-increasing virtual environment,” said Jabari Jones, president of the West Philadelphia Corridor Collaborative.

This initiative is part of the Believe PhillySM program, which harnesses our employees’ generosity, supports it with company resources, and joins with collaborators to make an even bigger impact on local communities and society at large.   Last year, as part Believe Philly made $35,000 in contributions collectively to MenzFit and One Day at a Time (ODAAT).

This is part of a broader $10 million effort by AT&T to address social inequality through support for education and career readiness programs for underserved people, as well as cultivating Black technology development and entrepreneurship at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs).

“We continue to work diligently in our communities to address education, workforce and other needs of underserved Black communities.”

Marc Blakeman – President, AT&T Mid-Atlantic

“We know there is much more that must be addressed when it comes to racial inequities across every facet of society – education, health care, economic opportunities and jobs – and across our communities, said Marc Blakeman, President – AT&T Mid-Atlantic. “We continue to work diligently in our communities to address education, workforce and other needs of underserved Black communities.  At AT&T, we do more than just live and work in these neighborhoods. We also BELIEVE in them.”

[1] WHYY, Philly’s Black-owned business crisis: Walloped by the pandemic and closing at faster rates, August 24,2020

[2] Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

[3] Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce