Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, affected Black businesses will get a helping hand from Shaquille O’Neal.

The NBA legend, outspoken sportscaster and bold business mogul is partnering with American Express on the “Coalition to Back Black Businesses,” a newly-formed grant program intended to assist Black-owned small businesses in their post-COVID recovery.

“Small businesses need our support more than ever now, and Black business owners have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic,” O’Neal told Business Insider. “American Express asked me to do this, and of course I’m proud to partner with American Express as they’re launching a first-ever “Coalition to Back Black Businesses” grant program. They’re giving $10 million over four years to small businesses, and I think it’s a great program.”

The coalition, which also includes the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc., National Business League, National Black Chamber of Commerce and Walker’s Legacy, has launched with a $10 million commitment to fund a grant program over the next four years. A portion of the grant will also fund leadership development and business mentoring.

“It helps owners with funding, and we also got a mentorship program to help them grow their businesses and recover from the effects,” he said. “We’re not only giving money but also guiding them and helping them with what they need to get to the next level.”

Eligible Black small business owners will be considered for a $5,000 grant.

Applications are available at with a fast turnaround — the deadline is Sept. 21.

The Coalition will then randomly select 280 “finalist” applicants, who will be notified via email by Sept. 22 to complete a more in-depth application, due Sept. 28.

Special consideration will be given to women-owned businesses, which will make up at least 25% of the awarded grants.


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