Tigers partners step up relief amid pandemic

June 9th, 2020

Week after week, we highlight the Tigers partners that are committed to helping those who need assistance due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This week, we want to highlight Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Comerica Bank, Uber, Oakland University and DTE Energy for their dedication to helping our community.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan will return more than $100 million to many fully insured customers. BCBSM additionally invested $494 million to expanding availability of no-cost benefits for members and to support health providers’ response to the coronavirus. Many health-care services have been disrupted due to COVID-19, and BCBSM is dedicated to helping in any way they can.

“For 81 years, Blue Cross has stood behind our members’ care in good times and bad,” said BCBSM president and CEO Daniel J. Loepp. “We’ve been proactive in addressing the pandemic, providing no-cost benefits for members and advancing millions of dollars to care providers. Now we can return money to our customers and members.”

Comerica Bank, in conjunction with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and Michigan Women Forward, created the $1.5 million Michigan Entrepreneurs Resilience Fund. The fund assists small businesses and entrepreneurs that have been impacted by COVID-19 to recover from the outbreak and help them meet increased demands in support of relief efforts. Small businesses in geographically disadvantaged areas will benefit from the fund in efforts to recover from COVID-19, benefiting at least 150 businesses statewide. Recovery grants will range from $1,000-$5,000, and microloans of $5,000-$10,000 will support the recipients through the recovery phase including rent, payroll and inventory.

“The stability and growth of small businesses and entrepreneurs significantly contribute to the economic vitality of our communities, as they provide important employment opportunities and deliver valuable goods and services,” said Mike Ritchie, Comerica Bank Michigan market president. “Supporting these businesses as they fight to survive will have a long-term impact on their success and on our cities and state. The Michigan Economic Development Corporation and Michigan Women Forward have proven critical in providing exceptional support to businesses, and we believe partnering in the Michigan Entrepreneur Resilience Fund will help deliver vital resources to businesses for survival and recovery.”

Comerica Bank employee Will Rawls, also known as “Yo Baker Man,” created a fundraising effort dedicated to making and providing baked goods to local health-care workers during the pandemic. On his own, Rawls raised $1,500, and then Comerica Bank learned about his outreach and wanted to help. Comerica pledged to match donations received through the Yo Baker Man fundraiser.

On April 30, Rawls, alongside Comerica vice president Joe Molnar and colleague Brian Brown, delivered 100 bagged lunches to Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak and 100 lunches to Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.

“It’s hard to put into words. So much appreciation,” Rawls said. “It gives them a small departure from what their daily responsibility entails -- a taste of something homemade while you’re at work to help you forget your troubles and stresses, I guess … at least for a moment.”

Uber has committed $19 million to helping nearly 50,000 drivers and food delivery couriers who either had COVID-19 or were forced to self-quarantine. Additionally, Uber provided nearly 450,000 workers with personal protective equipment.

Oakland University has offered emergency funds, renewable scholarships and payment plans to their students to help during this uncertain time due to COVID-19.

“The Oakland University community understands that uncertainty and unpredictability can be scary. But remember, we are here for you,” said vice president John O. Young. “We vow to continue to work with students and families and provide you with the same level of support and engagement that we have committed to for every Golden Grizzly.”

DTE Energy launched “Caring in the Crisis,” an effort to ensure Detroit-area residents know where to get assistance during the pandemic. A series of public service announcements and messages encouraged customers to contact DTE for payment assistance and financial help if they experience hardships due to COVID-19. On May 22, DTE held a “Day of Caring,” a radio event on WJLB, WDMK and WDMK HD2. The event included messages from community leaders and elected officials, encouraging Detroiters to take advantage of the help being offered.

“Throughout this crisis, we have had one core message to our communities, and that’s ‘We’re here to help you,’” said Angie Pizzuti, vice president and chief customer officer for DTE Energy. “There are many people who have never had problems making ends meet and now are experiencing income loss and don’t know where to turn. We want to connect with them right away to deliver the help that DTE and the state have made available to them.”

Thank you to all our partners that are committed to helping our community through these difficult and trying times, as we remain #TogetherDetroit.