Verizon today announced the launch of Pay it Forward Live, a weekly streaming entertainment series that will include music, gaming, comedy and more in support of small businesses affected by COVID-19. The weekly series will debut on Thursday, March 26, at 8:00 p.m. ET with a performance from Dave Matthews.
The 30-minute performances, where artists will create intimate concerts from their homes, will give viewers a way to connect during this time of social distancing and a way to support their favorite small business now. The concerts will stream live at 8:00 p.m. ET on Twitter @verizonand on Yahoo Entertainment. Additional artists and partners will be announced at a later date.
Understanding the toll of closing their doors to help fight the spread of the COVID-19 virus, Verizon will donate $2.5 million to Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), a national nonprofit that has invested $20 billion to fuel economic opportunity for people and communities across America. Over the course of the series, all viewers who tune in will be encouraged to tag their favorite local businesses and make a purchase in advance for when the crisis is over and the businesses reopen. As consumers engage, Verizon will unlock an additional $2.5 million in funds, bringing the total donation to a potential $5 million.
LISC will use the funds to provide grants of up to $10,000 to businesses facing immediate financial pressure because of COVID-19, especially entrepreneurs of color, women-owned businesses and other enterprises that don’t have access to flexible, affordable capital in historically underserved communities. LISC will launch an online process for small businesses to submit applications for grants. Applications will be reviewed and then entered into a lottery. The grants are designed to help business owners fill urgent financial gaps – from paying rent to meeting payroll – until they can resume normal operations or other financing becomes available.
“Small businesses are being impacted in extraordinary ways as we all fight against the spread of COVID-19,” said Hans Vestberg, Chairman and CEO, Verizon. “These companies provide employment opportunities, goods, services, and gathering places that are the soul of local communities. The funds from Pay it ForwardLive will help ensure these businesses survive this unprecedented time while also giving consumers the opportunity to do what they can now to show support.”
Verizon is also giving its own customers an easy way to support small businesses by leveraging their customer loyalty program, Verizon Up, which will give members the ability to use their monthly reward for a Visa eGift card to use to support small businesses throughout the month of April.
The funds from Pay it Forward Live are in addition to Verizon’s combined $13 million donation to nonprofits directed at supporting students and healthcare first responders, including No Kid Hungry, the American Red Cross, the Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP) COVID-19 Response Fund, Direct Relief, and the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund in support of the World Health Organization (WHO)’s global response.
Verizon’s support for small business also includes adding 15GB of high speed data for wireless consumer and small business customers to be automatically applied with no customer action necessary; providing first responders with priority and preemption abilities for voice and data and no data caps for consumer and small business Fios and DSL broadband internet plans.