United Way, community partners to benefit from BET’s Saving Our Selves: A COVID-19 Relief Effort


United Way Worldwide, BET partner to create fund to help African American communities impacted by COVID-19


Contact:  KirbyN@UnitedWaySELA.org

NEW ORLEANS – United Way of Southeast Louisiana (UWSELA) is among a select group of local United Ways that will benefit from the new COVID-19 Relief Fund created by Black Entertainment Television (BET) in partnership with United Way Worldwide to support African American communities impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.  

BET will host a broadcast special, Saving Our Selves: A BET COVID-19 Relief Effort, to raise money for the Fund which will go to support community-based programs of local United Ways in Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, New Orleans and New York City – cities where the African American population has been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.

“United Way holds a vision of equitable communities where all individuals are educated, financially stable, and healthy, and this pandemic is shedding much needed light on 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 vital funds for United Way and our partners who are supporting those in New Orleans who are especially vulnerable.”

Saving Our Selves: A BET COVID-19 Relief Effort will air on Wednesday, April 22 at 8pm ET on BET and BET Her domestically, as well as their channels internationally bringing awareness to over 90 million homes.  Additionally, BET will join forces with Bounce to simulcast Saving Our Selves: A BET COVID-19 Relief Effort.  Internationally, the show will be broadcast on Saturday, April 25 in the UK at 9:00 pm BST, Korea at 9:00 pm KST, Africa at 6:00 pm CAT, and France at 10:30 pm CEST.

Saving Our Selves: A BET COVID-19 Relief Effort will be co-hosted by Grammy Award-Winning singer and actress Kelly Rowland, TV personality Terrence J, actress Regina Hall, and actor Anthony Anderson. Celebrity guest appearances and performances will include Alicia Keys in an exclusive premiere of her original song ‘Good Job,’ DJ Khaled, Charlie Wilson, Chance the Rapper, Kirk Franklin, Fantasia, Melvin Crispell III, and many more. The special will give up-to-date information and drive viewers to needed resources during this unprecedented time. 

While the COVID-19 pandemic has left no state untouched, recent studies show that it is having a disproportionately negative impact on African American communities in multiple ways. Death rates from COVID-19 are higher for African Americans; financial instability is being worsened by layoffs and closures in sectors like retail, hospitality, and health care, 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. Takeisha 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.”

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, 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

The BET COVID-19 Relief Fund is already live and accepting donations.  Go to BET.com to make a give to the Fund or text “BETGives” to 51555. 


About United Way of Southeast Louisiana

For more than 90 years, United Way of Southeast Louisiana (UWSELA) has been a leader and trusted partner in improving lives and making a lasting difference. We fight to eradicate poverty by preparing people for quality jobs, growing incomes, and affording better health and education opportunities throughout Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, and Washington parishes. We have a bold vision of equitable communities where all individuals are healthy, educated, and financially stable – and we have a plan. United Way of Southeast Louisiana’s Blueprint for Prosperity guides all strategic investments in programs, initiatives, collaborations, volunteerism, and advocacy aimed at tackling poverty. For more information, please visit UnitedWaySELA.org. Find us on social: @UnitedWaySELA.