Self Esteem Brands (SEB), the parent company of Anytime Fitness, Basecamp Fitness, The Bar Method and Waxing the City, has unveiled a $1 million SEB Relief Fund to provide direct financial assistance, in the form of one-time $500 grants, to franchisees and club staff across the SEB brand portfolio who have been impacted by pandemic-related layoffs or furloughs.
The SEB Relief Fund is funded through a combination of personal donations by SEB co-founders Chuck Runyon and Dave Mortensen, more than $2,000 in personal donations from SEB corporate employees, and a donation from Roark Capital Group. No franchise fees were used to build the fund.
“This year has been incredibly challenging for our members, employees, franchise owners and their staffs, and our communities,” said Chuck Runyon, the co-founder and CEO of SEB, in a statement. “They’ve endured an unpredictable pandemic and are faced with continued uncertainty over COVID-19, their personal health, their employment and their economic stability. The SEB Relief Fund is a way we can help them navigate this uncertainty as our franchise owners, clubs and studios work to adapt to a new normal in the fitness and wellness industry.”
The first round of applications opened July 21, 2020. According to SEB, more than $150,000 in grants have been dispersed to date. Grants will be awarded to eligible applicants on a first-come, first-served basis.
Qualified recipients include franchise employees and independent contractor personal trainers, as well as club and studio employees of corporate-owned Anytime Fitness clubs, Waxing the City studios, Bar Method studios, and Basecamp studios who were furloughed or laid off as a result of COVID-19 closures, and who incurred qualifying financial costs. All applicants must have been employed in good standing at the time of furlough or layoff.
SEB has partnered with America’s Charities, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, to review, verify and administer the fund. America’s Charities will ensure all grants are tax-free and fulfilled quickly. The application site will close once the fund is exhausted.
SEB joins other brands who have set up relief funds, such as Fitness Connection, which launched the EPIC Relief Fund in late June with the aim of helping employees during crises such as a pandemic or natural disaster.