Ten local businesses and non-profits will each receive $10,000 grants from BET to support continued COVID-19 recovery



NEW YORK, NY – November 20, 2021 – Today, BET announced its continued investment in community recovery and wellness following their $20 million Saving Our Selves COVID-19 Fund, with its distribution of $100,000 in microgrants to ten Harlem Businesses and non-profits. Expanding on The Apollo and The 125th Street Business Improvement District (BID) 2021 Harlem Microgrant program launched in 2020, ten local Harlem businesses and non-profits will receive $10,000 grants each from BET to support their continued recovery from COVID-19 and to honor the entrepreneurial spirit of Soul Train’s path-breaking innovator and creator, Don Cornelius. BET is partnering again with the United Way to help feed the Harlem community at two local community-based organizations, Harlem Wellness Center in Central Harlem and West Harlem Group Assistance. BET will provide $10,000 grants to each organization, helping to put food on the table for hundreds of Harlem families this November. Each organization hosts live, in-person and covid-safe food distribution events. These efforts lead up to the celebration of the 2021 “Soul Train Awards” taking place at the World Famous Apollo in Harlem. Premiering Sunday, November 28 at 8 PM ET/PT on BET and BET Her, the annual awards will recognize the best in Soul and R&B, and will also celebrate the 50th anniversary of Soul Train. Harlem businesses and non-profits interested in being part of for the microgrant program can visit for guidelines and applications.

“BET remains committed to the recovery of Black communities as we continue to navigate the effects of the COVID-19 global health crisis. Black communities have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 in health, educational, and economic outcomes, an issue BET has committed to helping solve through philanthropic and social partnerships since 2020,” said BET Chief Communication and Social Impact Officer, Jeanine Liburd,. “As we gather at the World Famous Apollo for the 2021 “Soul Train Awards, BET is honored to take the next step in supporting Black businesses, innovators and leaders in memory of Don Cornelius and beyond.”

“The Harlem community has always played an integral role in helping the Apollo create a safe and innovate space for our artists and audiences. At the start of the pandemic, we understood that it was vital to find a way to give back to our neighbors directly, as they ensure Harlem is a vibrant destination for all,” said Apollo President and CEO Jonelle Procope. “I’m thrilled that BET is expanding on the work we began with 125th Street BID, as it is more important than ever that we lift up our community during challenging times and champion today’s leaders.”

“The Harlem Community always come together to help its own in times of trouble. The BID and the Apollo recognized there was a need for urgent relief for Harlem’s small businesses during the pandemic and the Harlem microgrant program came into fruition. BET joining us is a true recognition of the need and a commitment to uplifting and survival of our community,” said President and CEO of the 125th Street Business Improvement District Barbara Askins.

“Our partnership with BET helps us make an impact in the communities we serve here in New York City,” said United Way Senior Vice President of Community Impact and Chief Impact + Strategy Officer, Amy Sananman. “From providing Covid-19 relief funding that enabled us to support many of our community based organization partners to today’s grant-funding opportunity that will enable our partners to provide emergency food to hungry Harlem-based neighbors, we’re grateful for the support that BET continues to provide as we work towards the equitable rebuilding of our City.”

The BET microgrant program will mirror and continue the work of the Apollo’s 2020 and 2021 Harlem Microgrant program, which to-date has awarded 40 recipients microgrants presented in partnership with 125th Business Improvement District (BID) and the Harlem Commonwealth Council (HCC). The $40,000 program awarded $1,000 grants to each grantee, comprised of independent businesses, non-profits and collectives affected by COVID-19. Applications and details are forthcoming and will be available on the Apollo’s website in December.

Last year, BET Saving Our Selves COVID 19 Relief Fund raised over $20 million and distributed funds to support educational needs, rent and mortgage assistance, health care and food access in majority Black target cities across the US, working with United Way Worldwide to ensure resources were provided directly to Black communities and families.

About The 2021 “Soul Train Awards”:

Hosted by dynamic best-friend duo Tisha Campbell and Tichina Arnold, the 2021 “Soul Train Awards” presented by BET, will feature an exciting lineup of unforgettable performances including special moments and appearances by some of the brightest stars in Black culture and entertainment. The annual event is committed to showcasing the impact of Soul Train on music and dance from the ‘70s to today.

This year, performers will include the 2021 “Soul Train Awards” ‘Legend Award’ honoree Maxwell, ‘Lady of Soul’ honoree Ashanti, Bruno Mars, Anderson .Paak, Silk Sonic, Ari Lennox, Leon Bridges, Lucky Daye, Summer Walker, Fred Hammond, BET Amplified artists Elhae and Marzz. The talent participating at this year’s “Soul Train Awards” annual Soul Cypher include D-Nice, Musiq Soulchild, Jac Ross, Koryn Hawthorne, Elle Varner, and Tone Stith. Additionally, presenters who will take the stage, include Jazmine Sullivan, Normani, Mack Wilds, Parker McKenna Posey, from BET series Games People Play and Paula Patton from BET+ Original series, Sacrifice, Hosea Chanchez and Wendy Raquel Robinson from The Game, a Paramount+ Original series, Devale Ellis and Crystal Hayslett from the cast of Tyler Perry’s Sistas.

The 2021 “Soul Train Awards” presented by BET premieres Sunday, November 28 at 8 PM ET/PT on BET and BET Her. Internationally, the 2021 “Soul Train Awards” will simulcast on BET Africa at 2am CAT on November 29th and air on BET France on December 1st, at 10:30pm CET. The show will also be available to watch on My5 and Sky On-Demand in the UK beginning December 3rd.

H.E.R. leads the 2021 “Soul Train Awards” nominations with an impressive eight nods, Jazmine Sullivan and Chris Brown garnered the second most nods with six nominations each. The complete list of nominees for the 2021 “Soul Train Awards” is available here.

BET will host its first-ever 2021 “Soul Train Awards” weekend, a multiplatform experience celebrating the best in culture, commerce, entertainment, music and more. The three-day event will also celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Soul Train and the premiere of the 2021 “Soul Train Awards,” taping for the first time ever at the World Famous Apollo in New York City. For more information go here

Connie Orlando, EVP, Specials, Music Programming & Music Strategy will oversee the annual show, with Jamal Noisette VP, Specials, Music Programming & Music Strategy to Co-Executive Produce for BET. Jesse Collins Entertainment’s Jesse Collins and Jeannae Rouzan–Clay will serve as Executive Producers of the 2021 “Soul Train Awards.”



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 125 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+, the preeminent streaming service for the Black audience;, 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.


Jesse Collins Entertainment (JCE) is a full-service television and film production company that has played an integral role in producing many of television’s most memorable moments in music entertainment. The Emmy® nominated company has a multi-year overall agreement with ViacomCBS Cable Networks. On the theatrical film side, the company also has a first look on JCE’s film development projects which could include Viacom’s film entities such as Paramount Players. The award-winning and critically acclaimed television that JCE has produced includes miniseries—”The New Edition Story” and “The Bobby Brown Story;” scripted series—”American Soul” and “Real Husbands of Hollywood;” unscripted series – “Cardi Tries;” talk show – “Face to Face with Becky G;” Emmy Award winning children’s series—”Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices;” award shows—”BET Awards,” “Black Girls Rock!,” “BET Honors,” “UNCF’s An Evening of Stars,” “BET Hip Hop Awards,” “ABFF Honors” and “Soul Train Awards;” specials—”John Lewis: Celebrating A Hero,” “Love & Happiness: An Obama Celebration,” “Change Together: From The March On Washington To Today,” “Stand Up for Heroes,” “Dear Mama,” “Amanda Seales: I Be Knowin’,” “Def Comedy Jam 25” and “Leslie Jones: Time Machine;” as well as competition/game shows—”Sunday Best,” “Hip Hop Squares,” “Nashville Squares” and “Rhythm & Flow.” Jesse Collins, founder and CEO of the company, is the executive producer of all programming. He is also an executive producer for the iconic “Grammy Awards” and “The Pepsi Super Bowl Halftime Show” and also produced The 2021 “Academy Awards.” He will next executive produce the 2021 “American Music Awards.” Go to for more information on the company.

The non-profit Apollo is a performing arts presenter, commissioner, and collaborator that also produces festivals and large-scale dance and musical works organized around a set of core initiatives that celebrate and extend the Apollo’s legacy through a contemporary lens, including the world premiere of the theatrical adaptation of Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me and the New York premiere of the opera We Shall Not Be Moved; special programs such as the blockbuster concert Bruno Mars Live at the Apollo; 100: The Apollo Celebrates Ella; the annual Africa Now! Festival; bi-annualWomen of the World (WOW) Festival; as well as other multidisciplinary collaborations with partner organizations. Since introducing the first Amateur Night contests in 1934, the Apollo has served as a testing ground for new artists working across a variety of art forms and has ushered in the emergence of many new musical genres—including jazz, swing, bebop, R&B, gospel, blues, soul, and hip-hop. Among the countless legendary performers who launched their careers at the Apollo are Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday, James Brown, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight, Luther Vandross, H.E.R., D’Angelo, Lauryn Hill, Machine Gun Kelly, and Miri Ben Ari; and the Apollo’s forward-looking artistic vision continues to build on this legacy. For more information about the Apollo, visit


“Soul Train” was created in 1971 by visionary Don Cornelius and predominantly featured performances by R&B, pop, soul, and hip-hop artists, in addition to the occasional funk, jazz, disco, and gospel artists. When the final episode of the show’s historic thirty-five-year run aired in 2006, it was the longest running first-run, nationally syndicated program in television history. “Soul Train” highlighted a cast of incredible, ethnically diverse dancers who famously introduced the world to a whole new series of dance moves and styles on a weekly basis. Cornelius opened every show welcoming the audience to “the hippest trip in America” and closed each show wishing the audience “love, peace and soul.” Today, the legacy of “Soul Train” lives on through the legendary Soul Train dance line, which has become a timeless staple on dance floors across America. In 2016, BET, acquired the “Soul Train” brand and remains dedicated to revitalizing the brand while also honoring its heritage.


The 125th Street Business Improvement District (BID) was signed into law in 1993 by Mayor David N. Dinkins. It is a non-profit organization that strives to enhance the Harlem area through marketing local businesses, directing area improvement projects, and promoting a clean and safe environment. Harlem is one of the liveliest neighborhoods in New York City and its 125th Street economic hub is a unique place to live, work, visit and invest. Located in the heart of Historic Harlem, 125th Street is a multi-dimensional destination with a range of uses including commercial, social, residential, educational, civic, and religious, with a strong emphasis on arts, culture, and entertainment and culture-related commerce. Our work is dedicated to expanding sustainable economic activity, maximizing the ability of local residents, businesses and institution to benefit from any and all opportunities created by commercial revitalization efforts and to improving the quality of life in the community.

About United Way of New York City

United Way of New York City (UWNYC) fights for the self-sufficiency of every low-income New Yorker by taking on the toughest challenges and creating new solutions to old problems. We win by helping families shift from barely surviving to thriving. We unite by mobilizing the best ideas, relevant data, internal and external experts, and resources—from money to manpower. UWNYC maximizes impact by coordinating and aligning organizations, companies, local government, and New Yorkers to help families eliminate tough choices and live better while making ends meet. To learn more, visit:



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