Verizon has found a way to marry digital entertainment and philanthropy while honoring social distancing guidelines via Pay It Forward Live, a new weekly streaming series that will include music, games, comedy and other content, all to support small businesses that have been affected during the coronavirus pandemic. The series launches Thursday at 8 p.m. ET with an exclusive performance from veteran rocker Dave Matthews.
He’ll do a 30-minute set from home that will be streamed on Twitter @verizon and on Yahoo Entertainment. Additional partners and artists, who will follow his lead with intimate home-based performances, will be announced at a later date. As part of Pay It Forward Live, Verizon will donate $2.5 million to Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), a national nonprofit that has invested $20 billion since 1979 to boost economic opportunity for people and communities across the U.S. During the series run, viewers will be encouraged to tag local businesses and make a purchase in advance for when the crisis is over and the businesses reopen. Following engagement, Verizon will commit $2.5 million more, for a potential donation of $5 million.
LISC will dole out grants of up to $10,000 to businesses in dire need because of the pandemic, which has forced closures across the country as leaders have attempted to stop the growing spread of the novel coronavirus. Restaurants, cafes, bars, sports venues, gyms, wellness business and live events spaces have all been impacted and there’s been no definitive date of when some may reopen. As part of Verizon’s commitment, LISC will prioritize entrepreneurs of color, women-owned businesses and other enterprises that “don’t have access to flexible, affordable capital in historically underserved communities,” per today’s announcement. LISC will launch an online application process, after which candidates will be reviewed and then entered into a lottery.
“Small businesses are being impacted in extraordinary ways as we all fight against the spread of COVID-19,” said Verizon’s chairman and CEO Hans Vestberg. “These companies provide employment opportunities, goods, services, and gathering places that are the soul of local communities. Pay It Forward Live will give all Americans an opportunity to help their favorite small businesses survive this unprecedented hardship.”
The funds allocated to Pay It Forward Live are in addition to Verizon’s combined $13 million donation to nonprofits including No Kid Hungry, the American Red Cross, the Center for Disaster Philanthropy COVID-19 Response Fund, Direct Relief, and the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund in support of the World Health Organization’s global response. More information can be found here.
The shutdowns and social distancing guidelines have forced many entertainers to rethink how they reach their fans. At-home concerts and performances have become the major go-to with top name acts like John Legend, Chris Martin, Pink, Niall Horan and Keith Urban recently belting out performances from the comfort of their respective personal spaces. Matthews and his Dave Matthews Band have also been affected, forced to cancel tour dates in Australia and a performance at BottleRock Napa. Information about those rescheduled dates and the latest with Matthews and his clan can be found here.