Comcast RISE awarded 100 Philadelphia small businesses with an extensive grant package in Sept. 2023 in their annual effort to help alleviate tensions triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. See what Germantown’s RISE winners plan to do with their award tools.
Comcast RISE was developed to help the resurgence of small businesses after the economic effects of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. The initiative turns a blueprint into a reality by awarding the recipients a $5,000 monetary investment, a technology enhancement, personalized business mentorships, educational materials, and a media package with creative assistance. In this newest cohort of RISE grantees, eight Germantown businesses were selected as winners out of 100 Philadelphia businesses, further adding to the 716 total small Philadelphia-native businesses that the Comcast RISE program has benefited. Here are their testimonials:
We’re all jumping for joy to hear this announcement一, and no, I don’t mean jumping jacks. Yvonne Ferguson Hardin, the Owner and Executive Director of the fitness program, has identified a niche area that focuses on the health and well-being of individuals 50 and older. Her business is one of a kind, reinforced by genuine actions and efforts. “I believe we won the grant due to our niche, purpose, and our anticipated promising future,” said Hardin. The $5,000 reward will lift the weight straight out of Hardin’s hands, stretching to cover marketing operations costs, rent & equipment, and supplies for ongoing senior tech programs and anticipated youth empowerment programs.
The path to victory was only a grande jeté away for the minority-owned dance studio. Thriving off a creative flair and a significant education in dance, Kinesics Dance Dynamic’s instructors work in harmony to provide an enhanced experience for young and impressionable talent. The company’s collection of achievements, goals, and morals are exactly what Comcast Rise Grantees embody. The grant funds have fair and responsible allocations. “We intend to allocate the grant funds towards crucial areas within our organization, including covering operational expenses, compensating dedicated staff members, and helping to offset the substantial costs associated with organizing our annual dance recital production,” confirmed Kinesics Dance Dynamics.
A new era for this Germantown flower, plant, and gift shop is in full bloom. After a successful series of soft-launched events this year, Pomelo LLC plans to remodel its blueprint to be rooted in community-based interactions. “Our goal is to have small scale events like workshops, parties, showers, dinners or gatherings, as well as to host community events like meetings, pop-ups, markets or concerts,” details Kaitlin Orner, the owner and operator of the green space. The Comcast RiSE Grant money is helping to plant these seeds, with funds being allocated to additional furniture and infrastructure to, in turn, create a welcoming environment.
The kitchen is the heart of the home, and Mia Ormes’s savory tomato curry or stinging nettle bisque ensures the heart of Germantown is alive and well. And because this is a task that she does not take lightly, Ormes, the owner of Tribu, feels her good work was the driving force behind her recognition. The food service specifically offers nutritional support by blending flavors of the African Diaspora and caters to marginalized communities. With her newfound earnings, Ormes plans to use the monetary prize to invest in new inventory and hire a part-time employee to help cook and produce the minority-owned, woman-owned business. She expresses extreme gratitude to the complete package of the Comcast RISE Grant. “I do look at Comcast in a different way. I feel supported. It’s a really nice program, and the word nice doesn’t even really capture the essence,” explains Ormes.
The expert fusion of bold colors and dynamic patterns is not the only way Zen Elements stood out as a candidate. Zendra Shareef, owner of the accessories and jewelry brand, is proud of what this award means for those who find community and reassurance within her ventures. “I won the Comcast RISE Grant because of my role in the local Germantown economy as well as my commitment to supporting and empowering other Black women in business. I’m proud to be a RISE Grant recipient, a native Germantown resident, a member of INI Collective at One Art Community Center and The Sable Collective here in Philadelphia,” said Shareef.
2024 is coming up, and Zoetic Couture’s win is the perfect way to “Set it Off.” Co-owners Nicky Davis-Tucker and Alonda Stevenson have built their business on the foundations of their passion. Starting by selling their custom-made apparel that boasts the various D9 sororities from the trunk of a car to a basement, to a storage unit, and now from their warehouse, these women of prestige are constantly on the RISE. They are grateful for the opportunity to educate themselves in business management further to grow and scale their business appropriately. While there are many reasons why Zoetic Couture received the grant (personally designed all their clothing, 15 years of hard work, or representing a large network of Greek women), one particular reason stands out. “Honestly, God,” said Davis-Tucker.
*While other Germantown businesses did win the Comcast RiSE Grant, we either couldn’t contact them to gain their sentiments, or they did not feel comfortable making a statement.