New York, NY (April 23, 2020) – Last night, BET aired “Saving Our Selves: A BET COVID-19 Relief Effort'' nearly doubling their initial fundraising goal, raising over $16 million in commitments. Funds will support over 50 organizations across the country providing emergency resources directly to the African Americans hardest hit by this health and financial crisis. In partnership with United Way Worldwide, the BET Covid-19 Relief Fund received generous grants 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.
The very first contributions were led by a group of African American business leaders, who immediately galvanized to support this relief effort.
“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.”
The funds collected will be disbursed in partnership with the United Way to over 50 community partners 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. For a full list of partner organizations, please visit BET.com/COVID19.
The first $4M in donations made last night have doubled the impact through matching grants from Blue Meridian Partners and Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation.
“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.
“Communities of color, and African American families in particular, have been most severely impacted by this crisis due to the structural inequities that are pervasive in American society,” said Stacy Schusterman, Chair of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation and also a Partner in Blue Meridian. “Our foundation believes that right now, those with the resources should step up and support those facing the most dire needs. 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.”
The two-hour “Saving Our Selves: A BET COVID-19 Relief Effort'' broadcast special, was co-hosted by actor Anthony Anderson, Grammy Award-Winning singer and actress Kelly Rowland, TV personality Terrence J, and actress Regina Hall.
Highlights of the evening included Alicia Keys with a special tribute to New York City, performing “New York State of Mind” from home featuring appearances from Whoopi Goldberg, Diddy, Queen Latifah, Fat Joe, Remy Ma, and other New Yorkers. Kirk Franklin provided encouragement through his virtual performance of “I Smile” featuring Fantasia, Tyrese Gibson, Jonathan McReynolds, Kelly Price, Le’Andria Johnson, and Melvin Crispell III. Usher was joined by Ella Mai for a fun-filled performance of his latest single “Don’t Waste My Time.” Sister duo Chloe X Halle were joined by rapper Swae Lee for an electric performance of “Catch Up.” Another family duo offering smooth sounds was rapper D. Smoke and his brother SiR, who were joined by Davion Farris & Tiffany Gouché performing a medley of “Hair Down”, “Fly” and “Loves in Need of Love Today.” Soulstiring moments from the night included John Legend premiering his new single “Bigger Love” with a virtual soul train line, Jhené Aiko was joined by H.E.R. for the broadcast premiere of “BS,” Anthony Hamilton performed “Lean on Me,” as a tribute to the late Bill Withers, and Buju Banton performed “All Will Be Fine.” Ludacris & Jermaine Dupri took us south with a performance of “Welcome to Atlanta.” Charlie Wilson closed out the show taking us on a journey through his career performing his latest offerings “I’m Blessed” and “Forever Valentine,” before taking us back with his classic hit “Outstanding.”
Celebrity guest appearances included Ciara and Tiffany Haddish in a dance battle, judged by DJ D-Nice, Halle Berry, Kevin Hart, DJ Khaled, Common, Lizzo, Don Cheadle, Deon Cole, Angela Rye, Dr. Rheeda Walker, Charlamagne Tha God, and Chance The Rapper. Community leaders included Reverend Al Sharpton, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Symone D. Sanders, and Dr. Juliette Tuakli of United Way Worldwide.
Connie Orlando, EVP of Specials, Music Programming & Music Strategy at BET and Jesse Collins, CEO of Jesse Collins Entertainment served as Executive Producers for the “Saving Our Selves: A BET COVID-19 Relief Effort” broadcast special.
BET’s collaboration with United Way Worldwide is predicated on the organization’s presence in 95% of communities across the United States, and their unmatched ability to galvanize local partners, providers and resources to address the needs of vulnerable communities. For over 130 years, United Way Worldwide has stood on the front lines of disaster response, delivering critical resources to communities in need.
“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.”
In further support of the event,“Saving Our Selves: A BET COVID-19 Relief Effort” T-Shirts are now available in two designs and colors (Black and Heather Gray) for purchase on www.amazon.com/BET. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the United Way Worldwide, a non-profit organization focused on creating community-based and community-led solutions that strengthen education, financial stability and health. T-shirts will be provided by Fifth Sun Apparel, long-standing ViacomCBS licensee partner and leading designer and supplier of graphic apparel for the global clothing industry.
You can 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 further details, please visit BET.com/COVID19.
For the latest and most accurate information on COVID-19, including health, financial and emergency support services, please visit the BET COVID-19 Resources Page.
BET, a subsidiary of ViacomCBS Inc. (NASDAQ: VIACA, VIAC), is the nation's leading provider of quality entertainment, music, news, and public affairs television programming for the African-American audience. The primary BET channel is in 90 million households and can be seen in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom, sub-Saharan Africa, and France. BET is the dominant African-American consumer brand with a diverse group of business extensions including BET.com, a leading Internet destination for Black entertainment, music, culture, and news; BET HER, a 24-hour entertainment network targeting the African-American Woman; BET Music Networks - BET Jams, BET Soul and BET Gospel; BET Home Entertainment; BET Live, BET’s growing festival business; BET Mobile, which provides ringtones, games and video content for wireless devices; and BET International, which operates BET around the globe.
About United Way
United Way fights for the health, education and financial stability of every person in every community. Supported by 2.9 million volunteers, 9.8 million donors worldwide and $4.7 billion raised every year, United Way is the world’s largest privately-funded nonprofit. We’re engaged in 1,800 communities across more than 40 countries and territories worldwide to create sustainable solutions to the challenges facing our communities. United Way partners include global, national and local businesses, nonprofits, government, civic and faith-based organizations, along with educators, labor leaders, health providers, senior citizens, students and more. For more information about United Way, please visit UnitedWay.org. Follow us on Twitter: @UnitedWay and #LiveUnited.