BET's Saving Our Selves

BET’s Saving Our Selves: A COVID-19 Relief Effort   

Raises $2.4 million to support New Orleans African American community hit hard by COVID-19 


NEW ORLEANS – The recent telecast of Saving Our Selves: A BET COVID-19 Relief Effort raised more than $15.2 million for the BET COVID-19 Relief Fund, of which $2.4 million will support the work of United Way of Southeast Louisiana (UWSELA) and partners to address the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on the African American community in New Orleans.   

“United Way holds a vision of equitable communities where all individuals are educated, financially stable, and healthy, and this pandemic is exposing how far we have to go to make that vision a reality for the African American community,” said Michael Williamson, UWSELA president and CEO. “We are thankful to BET for providing a public platform to have a discussion on health equity and raise critical resources for United Way and our partners who are supporting those in our community who are especially vulnerable.”

Financial donations from the BET COVID-19 Relief Fund will allow UWSELA to support vital services like utilities and rental assistance, health supports, financial capability education, workforce readiness, student learning supports, and food assistance from trusted community partners and programs, including:

•          Ashe Cultural Arts Center
•          Citywide Feeding Program (City of New Orleans/NORDC/NOLA Public Schools/Second Harvest Food Bank)
•          Common Ground Health Clinic
•          Council on Aging
•          Crescent Care
•          HandsOn New Orleans
•          J. Wayne Leonard Prosperity Center
•          NOLA Public Schools
•          Rental & Utilities Assistance (City of New Orleans/Total Community Action)
•          UNCF
•          Urban League of Louisiana

Saving Our Selves: A BET COVID-19 Relief featured appearances from a who’s who of African Americans from the entertainment world, sports, civil and human rights, and the business community.  

Recent reports show that the health outcomes and economic disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic are disproportionately impacting the African American community.  Mortality rates for COVID-19 are higher for African Americans; financial instability is being worsened by layoffs and closures in sectors like retail, hospitality, and healthcare, where African American workers are over-represented; and low-income African American students face a greater risk of learning loss and inadequate access to nutritious food with massive school closures.

Dr. Takiesha Davis, UWSELA board member and New Orleans East Hospital CEO provided insight into the situation in New Orleans in a recent interview with NPR.

“…What we're seeing in our hospital is that instead of a war being raged on the rooftops of homes, it's within our hospital walls. We have seen 83% of the cases of COVID-19 in African Americans…families are dropping off their loved ones with mild symptoms. And then two weeks later, we're having to call them to say that they didn't make it,” said Davis. “And so I am hopeful that we will move this conversation past just discussing and analyzing data to one of action to where we're not having the same conversation the next time we have a national disaster.”

UWSELA will provide continued updates on local funding and program outcomes in the coming weeks.

The BET COVID-19 Relief Fund will remain open for donations through August.  Those who wish to donate can go to or text “BETGives” to 51555.