Last night, BET’s "Saving Our Selves: A BET COVID-19 Relief Effort" special answered the call to entertain and inspire the Black community, which has been disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
With the help of several foundations and corporations, and support from a network of Black business leaders, over $16 million in commitments were made during the two-hour broadcast allowing over 50 organizations across the nation to provide emergency financial support through partner organizations to those hardest hit by this health and financial crisis.
Co-hosted by Anthony Anderson, Kelly Rowland, Terrence J, and Regina Hall, the “Saving Our Selves: A BET COVID-19 Relief Effort'' broadcast special was indeed a party with a purpose.
The evening featured an array of talent from the best of Black Hollywood and music, including Alicia Keysin a thrilling tribute to her hometown, New York City, with special appearances by Whoopi Goldberg, Diddy, Fat Joe, Remy Ma, and other New Yorkers.
Kirk Franklin provided a full dose of encouragement through a virtual rendition of his hit song “I Smile,” featuring Fantasia, Tyrese Gibson, Jonathan McReynolds, Kelly Price, Le’Andria Johnson, and Melvin Crispell III.
Keeping in line with social distancing rules, Usher was joined by Ella Mai for a performance of his latest single “Don’t Waste My Time.”
And who could forget Anthony Hamilton’s haunting performance of the late, great Bill Withers’ theme, “Lean on Me.” These are just a few examples of the massive amount of talented celebrity guests who contributed their time and talents last night to help bring attention to this project.
BET and the United Way Worldwide joined forces to create a powerful partnership, resulting in the BET Covid-19 Relief Fund. A number of generous grants were received from Blue Meridian Partners, Charles And Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, and The Ford Foundation. Corporate donations from top brands included Facebook, Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Toyota, Salesforce, McDonald’s, BNY Mellon, AmEx, AARP, Pine-Sol®, Morgan Stanley, TJX, WW (formerly Weight Watchers), NBA, RLJ Companies, Popeyes, Chicago Trading Company, and Advancing Black Pathways.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the way our audience, leaders in our community and our business partners have stepped up to address the devastating impact of COVID-19 on African Americans,” said Scott Mills, President, BET.
“I am forever grateful to the talent and production team who pulled off that extraordinary show from home! We will continue this work, and we will continue to raise funds to assist those that need it most.”
“We are proud to have partnered with BET on such a successful program event, and we are encouraged by the tremendous outpouring of support we have seen from individuals and major corporations to the BET COVID-19 Relief Fund,” said Stan Little, Chief Experience Officer for United Way Worldwide. “We look forward to working with BET to not only provide immediate relief, but to build stronger and more resilient communities.”
The first wave of contributions were actually led by a group of Black business leaders, who knew they had to step up for the community to bring relief to those in need.
The funds collected will be distributed to over 50 community organizations including Feeding America, New York Urban League, Bronx Works, YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago, My Block, My Hood, My City, Urban League of Louisiana, Second Harvest Louisiana, YWCA Greater Los Angeles, Communities in Schools Atlanta, Metro Atlanta Urban Farms and many others.
“We are excited to not only contribute to this vital effort by BET and the United Way, but also to help catalyze even more relief funding for African-Americans who are suffering disproportionately from Covid-19,” said Jim Shelton, Chief Investment and Impact Officer at Blue Meridian Partners, which is a group of philanthropists working together to fund solutions to problems related to U.S. poverty.
“With our economy suddenly at a standstill and millions of people losing jobs, there is a social imperative for us to help our nation’s most vulnerable meet their basic needs”, said David Tepper, one of the philanthropic Partners whose additional contributions helped fund Blue Meridian’s emergency relief efforts along with JPB Foundation and others.
“Our foundation believes that right now, those with the resources should step up and support those facing the most dire needs," said Stacy Schusterman, Chair of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation and also a partner in Blue Meridian. "We should trust that families know their greatest needs. And we should all commit ourselves to the hard work of ensuring a more just and equitable society for all Americans.”
If you weren’t able to do so before, you can still donate to the fund online via BET.com or by texting BETGives to 51555. More information on BET’s partnership with UWW and additional extensions of our relief efforts are forthcoming.
For a full list of partner organizations and further details, please visit BET.com/COVID19.