LOUDOUN COUNTY, Va., July 15, 2021 – The Washington Football Team and United Airlines today announced the launch of a program to support economic recovery for Black-owned small businesses in the D.C., Maryland, and Virginia (DMV) area through COVID relief grants. United Airlines will fund five grants totaling $25,000 for selected businesses participating in the Washington Football Team Black Engagement Network's (B.E.N.) Shop Black Directory. Grants will be put toward business functions such as employee compensation, rent, and operating costs.
"It's important for us to support the small businesses that bring immeasurable value and cultural vibrance to our DMV community," said Doug Williams, Super Bowl XXII MVP and Senior Advisor to the Washington Football Team President, Jason Wright. "We know that Black entrepreneurs face many barriers when it comes to running their businesses and recognize that the last year has been particularly tough on small, minority-owned businesses. Which is why we are excited to partner with United to provide additional resources and support for the members of our Shop Black Directory."
Small businesses from the Shop Black Directory interested in applying can do so from July 15th to August 5th by visiting www.washingtonfootball.com/UnitedGrant. To be eligible for the grant, businesses must meet the following criteria: certified Black-owned diverse supplier, employ fewer than 15 employees, have been in business for over a year with annual revenues of less than $250,000, located in the DMV, and a member of 'Shop Black' since or before May 1st, 2021.
"United is proud to work alongside the Washington Football Team to deepen our shared commitment to the National Capital region and the local, Black-owned businesses that employ our neighbors, energize our economy, and enrich our culture," said Janet Lamkin, the airline's senior vice president of market and community innovation. "Diversity, equity and inclusion are core values at United – values we will continue to advance here in the DMV and across all of the communities we serve."
Introduced in June 2020, the Washington Football Team's Black Engagement Network has contributed to the advancement of the Washington Football Team's Black employees and members of the community. B.E.N.'s vision is to acquire, develop, and retain African-American talent, while serving the communities in which we live, work, and play. B.E.N. launched the Shop Black Initiative in November 2020 to highlight Black-owned small businesses serving the DMV region and has continued to add businesses to its directory, which spans restaurants, accessories and apparel, and health and wellness offerings. Businesses that are not already members of the Shop Black Directory are encouraged to apply by visiting https://www.washingtonfootball.com/ben/shop-black-signup. Members of the Shop Black Directory will receive updates on future programs and grant opportunities as they become available.