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Delaware entrepreneurs get boost with RISE program

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Levonne Mathis and his Allow Me Errand Service are now being supported by a Comcast RISE grant. | PHOTO COURTESY OF AMES

A Newark courier and delivery service, which traces its roots to when founder Levonne Mathis was 9 and doing McDonald’s runs for a basketball team, is getting a big boost from Comcast.

The Wilmington travel agency, founded to help women travel together and check off destinations on their bucket lists, and a Newark trade school with programs in information technology and project management will also get boosted.

They are three of more than two dozen small businesses in Delaware receiving support from the Philadelphia-based telecommunications giant through its Representation, Investment, Strength and Empowerment program. Comcast launched RISE in November 2020 to help small businesses owned by people of color access marketing, technology and funding. In January, it added women-owned businesses to those eligible. Details are at www.comcastrise.com.

RISE, which has so far helped 6,700 businesses in 34 states, has stopped taking new applications for its $10,000 grants. It now focuses on consulting, media or creative production services or a tech makeover.

These three businesses all won ads produced by Comcast and 90 days of airtime of local channels. Their ads began running in late January and have already generated inquiries from potential customers.

Allow Me Errand Service of Newark asked for an ad that highlights “our multitude of services,” said business manager Jami Frye. “Executed perfectly.” And it does have a multitude.

Mathis’ first client, a decade ago, was his grandmother, who sent him to buy groceries. “One thing we will never waiver on is the love of serving our seniors,” he

Leslie Berry, the owner of Amazing Travel Chicks, a travel company that has grown to organize multiple trips a year, also received a RISE ad. | PHOTO COURTESY OF LESLIE BERRY

writes on the company’s website.

The site talks about solutions to everyday, time-consuming tasks, including pickup and delivery, home management, calendar management, business services and custom errands. Other pages list dozens of services, including personal shopping, waiting for handymen, checking in homes while owners are away, event planning, paper shredding and digital mailboxes.

Leslie Berry in 2016 founded Berry Amazing Travel LLC, which does business as Amazing Travel Chicks. It’s grown to orchestrating multiple trips a year, plus “an occasional brunch meetup, night out, or day trip,” she writes on the company website. “While we are majority women, we never leave out the men that love to travel too.”

The Comcast RISE ad focused on hosted groups, but the day Berry was interviewed, she got a query from someone who had seen the ad and was interested in a custom travel group. “People are ready to get out of the house,” she said. “And their question is how can I do this safely?”

The Delaware IT Institute has also received a few calls from the ad, said Amanda Alli, who in 2016 founded the school. “It’s a great opportunity,” she said of the commercial, their first in that form. “Pretty exciting. They did everything for us.” The institute, according to www.deitinstitute.com, has programs for Delaware Department of Labor clients, personal training and corporate training.

Overall, Comcast has provided more than $60 million in grants and marketing and technology services, with the value of the marketing and tech packages varying, a company representative said.

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