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Shaquille O’Neal forms $10 million COVID recovery program for Black businesses

Shaquille O’Neal (Photo credit: Splash news)

Shaquille O’Neal is known for his wit as much as he is his athletic ability and having been the most dominant force in NBA history. Part of that humor and his ability to entertain has often been at his own expense, in the form of nicknames and in this case, it would be ever appropriate if he dubbed himself, “The Big Philanthropist.”

The four-time NBA champion recently partnered with American Express and its “Coalition to Back Black Businesses,” which is a newly formed grant program designed to help Black-owned businesses recover from the global pandemic known as COVID-19.

“Small businesses need our support now more than ever,” Shaq said, according to Billboard. “Black businesses have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. You tell people, ‘stay in your house four months, don’t leave don’t go out.’ It’s a shame 40 million Americans have lost their jobs, but in these Black communities with Black businesses, a lot of people have lost their lifelong jobs. I’m happy to support the first-ever Coalition of Black Businesses.”

The $10 million commitment is intended to fund a grant program over the next four years, of which eight businesses will be considered for $5k each.

“Not only are we giving money,” said Shaq, “but we give mentorship to help get their businesses to the next level.”

The application process begins today, Sept. 15 at webackblackbusinesses.com and submissions must be turned around by Sept. 21. Of the applicants, 250 will be chosen to complete more in-depth applications, which are due eight days later (Sept. 29).

Learn more about The Big Philanthropist’s goals for the community by watching the video below.