Aaron Rodgers donates $1M to help small businesses in his California hometown

CALIFORNIA (CBS 58) -- Aaron Rodgers is stepping up to help 80 small, locally-owned businesses in his hometown of Chico and all of Butte County, California, with a donation of $1 million. 

According to a news release, Those 80 restaurants and retail businesses will receive grants to help cover rent for, on average, three months or longer and/or other operational costs through the Aaron Rodgers Small-Business COVID-19 Fund at North Valley Community Foundation in Chico. The grants will total more than $1 million.

North Valley Community Foundation says nine of the business owners were personally notified by the MVP in video calls. 

"Small, locally owned businesses are the heart and soul of a community,” said Rodgers. “In the applications and the videos, it was heart-wrenching to hear about all the obstacles facing restaurants and retail establishments. So many of them are struggling just to stay in business but remain hopeful that there’s an end to this.”

North Valley Community Foundation says the fund was started in early February with a $500,000 donation from Aaron Rodgers, the Chico native who is a three-time NFL Most Valuable Player. After seeing the need, Rodgers decided to increase his donation to $1 million. It was augmented by $100,000 from NVCF, an anonymous donation of $100,000 and a generous donation from Sherry and Gary Holbrook of Holbrook’s Clearance Center.

“Aaron is such an incredible person. He looked at everything, decided he wanted to do more, and doubled down on his original $500,000 commitment,” said NVCF President and CEO Alexa Benson-Valavanis. “He is such a champion for his hometown.”

Rodgers has been a valuable contributor to his hometown for years but especially stepped up after the Camp Fire ravaged Butte County in November 2018. He donated $1 million to Camp Fire recovery through a fund at NVCF that eventually raised more than $3 million as his fans and business partners like State Farm got on board. Rodgers was a founding member of the Butte Strong Fund along with NVCF and Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. The Butte Strong Fund and other Camp Fire funds have granted $37 million for fire relief and recovery. Rodgers also has been involved in coronavirus and North Complex Fire relief efforts.

“Whether it’s wildfire recovery or trying to help in a pandemic, the role of philanthropy and a community foundation in any disaster is doing our part to stabilize the community. This does exactly that,” said Benson-Valavanis. “Butte County needs healthy businesses to preserve the fabric of our community, and fortunately Aaron and our other donors recognize that.”

CLICK HERE to read more about the grant program and the businesses that received one.

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