Free Grants and Programs for Small Business | CO

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 Female business owner in restaurant

There are many grant programs available to small businesses, depending on a variety of qualifying factors. — Getty Images/ljubaphoto

Whether you’re starting a new small business or looking to grow the one you already own, finding funding can be a challenge for businesses of all sizes. If you’re looking for a small business loan or grant, CO— is here to help.

Each week, we update this list of loans, small business grants, or other opportunities to connect with programs and organizations that can help you with your business. Come back often to see the latest. And, if your organization has a program or grant you’d like to see listed here, email us at [email protected].

If you’re not sure of the difference between a loan and a grant, check out our explainer here. You can also learn more about all funding options in our small business financing guide here.

Government grants

Begin your search for a grant from the federal government at Grants.gov. This government site offers the most comprehensive database of funds the government is going to give away. There are thousands of grants to apply for, with opportunities for companies from all backgrounds.

Keep in mind that not all assistance flows directly from the federal government to small businesses. Some funds are distributed to state and local governments and agencies, nonprofit organizations, and institutions of higher learning. These entities, in turn, distribute the funds or use them to provide technical or educational assistance on a local level.

In addition to the programs listed here, be sure to check with your state and local governments and use the resources listed below. When searching through grant and contracting options, note that you may qualify for more than one program.

As illustrated by the following sampling of grants, the assistance available to you from the government will vary, depending on your specific situation.

  • The Blueprint Medtech Small Business Translator Grant. This is a government grant for small businesses working on creating medical devices to treat nervous system disorders. It supports activities like making prototype devices, safety testing, and clinical studies to get approval from the FDA. The grant is a cooperative program where the NIH helps plan and monitor the research. It also provides funding and access to experts for things like regulations, patents, and manufacturing. Small businesses with their device ideas or collaborations with manufacturers can apply for this grant to advance their projects. The next deadline to apply is February 20, 2024.
  • Employee Retention Credit. The Employee Retention Credit (ERC), sometimes called the Employee Retention Tax Credit, is a stimulus program established by the CARES Act. This refundable tax credit functions as a grant that helps businesses impacted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligibility guidelines are available on the IRS website.
  • Illinois Infrastructure Grants. In 2020, Governor Pritzker launched an initiative to improve Illinois’ infrastructure. $3 billion of this was allocated for capital grants through the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO). These capital grants, part of Illinois’ $45 billion infrastructure initiative, are designed to support various projects that benefit local communities and businesses. The DCEO maintains a transparent list of these grants, which can be either general or specific project grants. You can find more information about these grants on the GATA website.
  • Innovation Corps at NIH Program for NIH and CDC Translational Research. The NIH and CDC are offering a grant to help small businesses that are already working on medical projects supported by previous grants. The goal is to speed up the development and commercialization of new medical technologies. This grant will provide training in entrepreneurship and innovation to these small businesses, teaching them how to understand the market value of their inventions and move them from the lab to the commercial world. The program involves a course where participants interview potential customers and partners to learn more about their technology’s potential impact. This helps them refine their projects and develop strategies for commercialization. The grant supports travel and other expenses related to the training program, and selected teams will participate in an eight-week entrepreneurial program. The next deadline to apply is April 30, 2024.
  • The Minnesota Emerging Entrepreneur Loan Program (ELP). ELP is an initiative aimed at supporting the growth of Minnesota businesses owned by minorities, low-income individuals, women, veterans, and persons with disabilities. The program provides grant funds to nonprofit lenders across the state, which in turn offer loans to startup and expanding businesses. These loans not only foster business development but also aim to create jobs for minority and low-income individuals, strengthen minority-owned enterprises, and boost economic growth in disadvantaged areas. To participate in the program, eligible businesses must apply through certified nonprofit lenders, with DEED assisting in lender identification if needed, and loans are subject to DEED’s approval.
  • National Institute of Health Grants. The National Institute of Health (NIH) is currently funding grant opportunities related to COVID-19 research. These grants are reserved for small businesses that develop and research biomedical technology. There are multiple grants available with deadlines throughout 2024 and beyond.
  • NIDILRR’s SBIR program. The SBIR program aims to support organizations to help advance technology and research, as well as support the social/economic benefits for the nation. The SBIR will be backing the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) through the Administration for Community Living (ACL) to provide 10 grants that support the improvement of the lives of those with disabilities. The total grant funding is estimated to be $1 million, and an outline of the available grants under this program can be found on the ACL website.
  • San Francisco Accessibility Grant. Small business owners in San Francisco can apply for a grant to enhance accessibility in their establishments. The grant can cover expenses like accessible equipment, construction to remove ADA barriers, CASp inspections, design services, and relevant permit fees, with a maximum grant amount of $10,000. Eligible businesses must be registered in San Francisco, have less than $2.5 million in gross revenue for a single location, and employ an average of 100 or fewer employees. The application process is fast, and applicants can expect a response within 15 days of submission. Upon approval, they will need to provide proof of payment and photos showcasing accessibility improvements.
  • Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR). The SBIR offers grants to small businesses so they can participate in federal research and development with the potential for commercialization. It’s a highly competitive awards-based program that helps businesses achieve scientific excellence and technological innovation. To qualify for SBIR grants, you must operate a for-profit company and satisfy other requirements.
  • Small Business Technology Transfer Program (STTR). Similar to SBIR, the STTR program focuses on funding research in the R&D arena. However, what separates the STTR is the requirement that the small business has a formal collaboration with a research institution. To qualify for STTR grants, you must operate a for-profit company and satisfy other requirements.
  • State Small Business Credit Initiative. The State Small Business Credit Initiative Investing in America Small Business Opportunity Program (SBOP) is a $75 million competitive grant program aimed at providing technical assistance, including legal services and financial management guidance, to very small and underserved businesses. Applications are currently open with an undetermined deadline, and there is a maximum limit of $10 million per applicant.
  • Texas Enterprise Fund (TEF). The Texas Enterprise Fund (TEF) offers “deal-closing” grants to companies competing with out-of-state sites for new projects in Texas. These grants are based on performance, encouraging significant capital investment and job creation. Eligible companies must meet criteria related to job creation, capital investment, financial stability, and local support. Once approved, grantees sign contracts committing to job and wage targets, with clawback provisions in case of non-compliance. The application process includes a thorough screening, and unanimous support from top state officials is required for approval.
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Business Programs. The USDA’s Rural Development Business Programs provide financial support and technical assistance to promote rural business growth. They offer loans, grants, and guarantees with the goal of enhancing economic opportunities and job creation in rural communities; deadlines and eligibility requirements vary by program.
  • U.S. Department of Commerce Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA). Targeted grants and loans designed to aid minority-owned businesses are offered throughout the year. Minority-owned businesses can find information about local MBDA Business Centers at MBDA.gov.
  • U.S. Department of Education (DOE) Grants. The U.S. DOE has various grants available to small businesses in the education sector. Each grant has unique eligibility criteria, with some opportunities set aside for public schools, state agencies, or nonprofit organizations; however, others allow applications from for-profit private sector companies. Deadlines for currently available DOE grants run through March 26, 2024.
  • U.S. Small Business Administration State Trade Expansion Program (STEP). Intended to assist small businesses desiring to export product, this program distributes federal funds through state entities. Small businesses that meet the criteria set by each state can use the financial assistance to participate in foreign trade missions and shows, obtain entry to foreign markets, develop websites, and design international marketing products or campaigns.
  • U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA). The EDA is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce and offers ongoing funding opportunities for projects that support regional and national economic development. Applicants can apply for a variety of rolling-basis EDA investments that fund projects in construction, non-construction, planning, technical assistance, research and evaluation, higher education, and more.

As you would expect, acceptance of free money from the government comes with a fair amount of paperwork. Applying for a grant can be time-consuming and technical. You want to make sure, therefore, that you are eligible before applying. In addition to the legal and administrative prerequisites, there are ongoing reporting and auditing requirements.

Government contract assistance

The federal government spends billions of dollars on goods and services each year. A lot of that money is spent through a competitive bidding process. Programs have been put in place to assist some small businesses with the process, allowing them a better chance to compete for those federal dollars.

  • Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Program. The federal government seeks to award at least 3% of all federal contracting dollars to such businesses annually, so this program helps with meeting that target. This federal contracting program offers assistance to small business owners who are service-disabled veterans. Eligible small businesses must be over 50% owned/controlled by one or more service-disabled veterans, have day-to-day operations and long-term goals managed by at least one service-disabled veteran and have a service-connected disability.
  • Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contracting Program. The federal government seeks to award at least 5% of federal contracting dollars to women-owned small businesses annually. Through this SBA program, the Office of Women’s Business Ownership provides support to women entrepreneurs by offering business training, counseling, federal contracts and access to credit and capital. Their goal is to offer equal opportunities for all women in business.
  • 8(a) Business Development Program. The purpose of this program is to assist small businesses owned by socially and economically disadvantaged entities. This is achieved by limiting competition for certain government contracts to businesses participating in the 8(a) business development program. To participate a business must be certified as an 8(a) entity.
  • HUBZone Program. This program aids businesses in underutilized business zones by making them more competitive in regard to some government contracts. Businesses that join the HUBZone program can compete for set-aside contracts as well as receive preference on others, including a 10% price evaluation preference in open contract competitions.

Natural Resource Sales Assistance Program

In addition to the billions of dollars spent purchasing goods and services, the federal government also sells large amounts of natural resources and surplus property. The SBA Natural Resource Sales Assistance Program sets aside a percentage of these goods for bidding by small businesses only. In addition, federal agencies sometimes divide surplus materials into smaller parcels, making it easier for small businesses to purchase. The five categories are:

  • Timber and related forest products.
  • Strategic materials.
  • Royalty oil.
  • Leases involving rights to minerals, coil, oil and gas.
  • Surplus real and personal property.

The program also provides training for small businesses on government sales and leasing.

General small business grants

There are many nonprofit and corporate entities offering grants and other assistance to small businesses. Here are a few such programs that are open to qualifying small businesses in any industry:

  • 500 Global Flagship Accelerator Program. Startups and small businesses seeking funding can do so on a rolling, year-round basis with the 500 Global Flagship Accelerator program. Since 2010, this program has offered businesses the opportunity for a four-month accelerator program based in San Francisco in addition to a $150,000 investment. Rules for applying can be found on the company’s website.
  • Awesome Foundation Grants. Each month, the Awesome Foundation awards grants of $1,000 to individuals and groups looking to fund various projects. The Awesome Foundation is made of 84 independently-run chapters, with members contributing to a micro-funding pool that goes towards grant projects. Though funding is not limited to businesses, startups, and small businesses have been among the recipients of the monthly grants. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.
  • Business Warrior Small Business Loans. The company Business Warrior understands that it can be difficult to get loan approval through a traditional banking method. To help small businesses get access to capital, Business Warrior is giving $5 million to small business owners. They will provide between $5,000 and $50,000 loans without the high rates cash advance companies normally charge.
  • FedEx Small Business Grant. FedEx will hold its 12th annual Small Business Grant Program, set to award over $230,000 in grants and services to 10 U.S.-based small businesses. One grand prize winner will receive $50,000 and nine additional recipients will be granted $20,000 — along with various perks, including print credit, consultation services, and more. Applications open on March 1, 2024, and close on April 1, 2024, with recipients announced on May 16, 2024.
  • The Freed Fellowship Grant. This grant offers a monthly $500 to qualifying business owners in the US. Applicants are evaluated based on a “5C Framework”, which assesses various aspects of applicants’ business. Along with the grant, applicants receive feedback on their business and a two-month free membership in the Freed Studio, a community of ambitious business owners. Grant recipients are also eligible for an end-of-year grant of $2,500.
  • GoFundMe Small Business Relief Fund. GoFundMe’s Small Business Relief Fund will match $500 grants to qualifying small businesses that have been negatively impacted by COVID-19 and raise at least $500 through a GoFundMe campaign. The fund is backed by GoFundMe and corporations like Intuit QuickBooks, Yelp, GoDaddy, and Bill.com. Small business owners with existing campaigns can add the hashtag #SmallBusinessRelief to their campaign and fill out this form to confirm their business.
  • Incfile Entrepreneur Grant. Incfile is offering two grants to support aspiring entrepreneurs and students. The “Young Entrepreneur Scholarship Grant” provides $2,500 to a high school senior, undergraduate, graduate, or trade school student in the U.S. with a GPA of 3.0 or higher and an interest in starting a business. The “Fresh Start Business Grant” offers $2,500 and Incfile’s Gold plan for free to adult entrepreneurs (21 years or older) in the U.S. planning to start a new business or significantly grow an existing one. Applicants for both grants must complete an online application, create a two-minute video explaining how entrepreneurship will impact their lives, and submit a sample business plan.
  • Skip Monthly Grants. Small business aggregator Skip offers monthly grants for U.S.-based small business owners and entrepreneurs; grants are typically set at $1,000, though the exact amount varies by Skip’s monthly YouTube revenue. To be considered, you must have a Skip account and add the monthly grant to your Funding Assistant, as well as be subscribed to Skip’s YouTube channel. The deadline for the $1,000 February Skip Grant has been extended to February 26, 2024.
  • Small Business Digital Readiness Program. In partnership with Verizon, National ACE has developed a digital readiness program to help small business owners succeed in a digital world. The free online curriculum includes expert coaching, peer networking, and other resources to support your small business. Those who register for the program and take two courses are eligible for a $10,000 grant. This opportunity is rolling and you can learn more at the program’s webpage.
  • Small Business Readiness for Resiliency Program. Small businesses often feel the effects of a natural disaster the hardest. It can be difficult when starting a business to suddenly have to raise money to repair a roof or attend to flood damage. To help offset some of these concerns and costs, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and FedEx have teamed up to create the Small Business Readiness for Resiliency (R4R) Program. The program helps small businesses put plans in place to prepare for disaster and also provides immediate emergency funding when necessary. Businesses are asked to complete a four-step process to be eligible for funding opportunities.

Industry-specific and diversity small business grants and programs

Some small business grant programs are confined to a specific entrepreneur demographic or business profile and they often have an application process that is easier to navigate. This is a sample list, so be sure to check with nonprofits and large corporations in your geographic area or industry.

  • Accion Opportunity Fund. The Accion Opportunity Fund grants small business loans ranging from $5,000-$250,000, along with educational resources, coaching, and support networks in both English and Spanish. This program offers mentorship programs, microloans, and a hubzone program for small business owners’ financial needs. Accion Opportunity Fund works with a clientele that is 90% diverse, has created and retained over 50,000 jobs, and has generated $1 billion in economic activity. Those interested in applying for a loan can do so here.
  • Amazon’s Black Business Accelerator Program. If you’re a seller in Amazon’s store, you may be eligible for the Black Business Accelerator Program. Created to support Black entrepreneurs, the program offers financial support, mentorship, business advice, and promotional support. Eligible sellers will have access to free imaging services, cash grant opportunities, advertising credits, and money toward start-up costs. You can learn more about this opportunity at their website.
  • Amber Grant Foundation. With a simple goal of supporting women entrepreneurs, the Amber Grant Foundation was founded by WomensNet in 1998. The foundation awards a series of grants throughout the year, including the $10,000 Monthly Amber Grant, two $25,000 Annual Amber Grants, and $10,000 each quarter for The Startup Grant and The Non-Profit Grant, respectively. There are also 12 Business Category Grants — an additional $10,000 each month — with all eligible applications remaining active until the month of their specific category.
  • America’s Seed Fund. America’s Seed Fund, sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF), offers up to $2 million for U.S.-based startups and small businesses that are developing innovative technology. Project pitches are accepted on a rolling basis, and official responses from NSF typically take one month.
  • Beyond Open Small Business Grants. This competitive grant program supports diverse-owned small businesses in the Charlotte, North Carolina area, offering funds for capital assets such as equipment, technology, inventory, and real estate, with a total of $15 million being awarded across three rounds. In 2023, Foundation For The Carolinas selected 116 small businesses in Charlotte’s Corridors of Opportunity, which “supports six underinvested areas in Charlotte,” to receive a total of $4.8 million in grants from the Beyond Open program’s second round, aiming to enhance economic mobility. Those interested in the 2024 Beyond Open funding can subscribe for updates for the opening of the third round.
  • Binc Foundation Emergency Financial Assistance. The Binc Foundation provides emergency financial assistance to bookstore owners, booksellers, and comic store employees and owners facing unforeseen financial needs. Eligibility criteria include specific employment durations and financial hardship resulting from qualifying life events. Binc’s assistance process involves a confidential application and documentation verification, aiming to help individuals regain financial stability.
  • Casper Accelerate Grant Program. The Casper Association aims to support the adoption of blockchain technology via Casper, a scalable blockchain network. To support innovation within the blockchain industry, Casper has opened the Casper Accelerate Grant Program. Those who want to build apps to support infrastructure, end-user applications, and research innovation are invited to apply. This $25 million grant program has a rolling application deadline, so you can apply anytime here.
  • Cartier Women’s Initiative. The Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards, initiated by Cartier in 2006, empower women impact entrepreneurs worldwide in various sectors, focusing on social and environmental sustainability. The program offers three award categories: regional, diversity, equity and inclusion, and science and technology pioneer. Winners receive financial support, coaching, and peer learning opportunities, with the diversity, equity and inclusion category open to all genders. Applications aren’t open yet, but aspiring entrepreneurs can prepare for the 2024 awards, which will feature 13 categories supporting 39 impact entrepreneurs globally.
  • Center For Economic Inclusion Vanguard Accelerator. This program offers $50,000 in grants and scholarships for Latina and Black women-owned businesses in the Minneapolis and St. Paul area. All selected grant recipients will receive scholarships to a Founders First accelerator program for continuing education, along with consideration for forgivable loans ranging from $25,000 to $250,000. Interested businesses can apply by February 21, 2024.
  • The Emerging Technology Fund (ETF). ETF is a financial resource aimed at assisting growing companies in Massachusetts. It provides loans of up to $4,000,000 to technology companies for purposes such as acquisition, expansion, working capital, or equipment purchases. To qualify, companies must demonstrate strong management, technical advancements, market demand, and solid financial records, making it a valuable tool for businesses looking to take the next step in their development and contribute to the region’s economic growth.
  • Etsy Emergency Relief Fund. If you’re an Etsy business owner, you may be qualified to apply for relief funding courtesy of a partnership with CERF+, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping artists prepare for and recover from emergencies and disasters. The partnership was established in 2017, and both companies continue to provide up to $2,500 in funding through the grant program. To apply, you must have been a registered Etsy business for at least one year and have been affected by a natural disaster. This grant opportunity is rolling.
  • Foundation for a Just Society Grants. Foundation for a Just Society offers grants to local, national, regional, and global organizations and networks that support the rights of women, girls, and LGBTQI individuals. Grants are issued four times each year (March, June, September, and November), with invitations for proposals extended two months prior.
  • Galaxy Grants. Galaxy Grants is on a mission to support women and minority entrepreneurs with their small business by offering valuable resources, tools, funding, and knowledge. They are running a $2,750 Galaxy Grant Giveaway, sponsored by Hidden Star, a 501(c)(3) organization, with a quick 30-second entry process. The deadline to enter is March 31, and winners will be announced the following week. Plus, there’s an opportunity to win for both you and a friend, as each of you could receive a $2,750 grant if your friend wins (subject to the Terms and Conditions).
  • The Halstead Grant. The Halstead Grant is an annual opportunity for emerging silver jewelry entrepreneurs to boost their careers. Applicants answer 15 business questions and submit design portfolios, aiming to win a $7,500 cash grant and other benefits. The application deadline is May 1, 2024.
  • HerRise MicroGrant. The HerRise MicroGrant offers financial aid to U.S.-registered businesses that are majority-owned by women of color, with a focus on businesses with innovative community solutions that are still struggling to obtain funding. Applications are reviewed monthly, with winners announced during the subsequent month’s HerSuiteSpot First Friday Mixer. Nonprofits, franchises, direct sellers, authorized resellers, and independent consultants are ineligible to apply.
  • Hivers and Strivers Investment Program. As an angel investment group, Hivers and Strivers works to provide capital to qualifying businesses. Specifically, the investment group funds projects submitted by veteran-owned and veteran-led businesses. Funding opportunities can range from $250,000 to $1 million. Those who qualify can apply for funding for a business idea on a rolling basis, but businesses reliant on government contracts are not eligible to apply.
  • IFundWomen Universal Grant Application. This is a resource for female entrepreneurs seeking grants. Through partnerships with brands like Visa, Caress, and COMCAST, IFundWomen has deployed over $170 million in grants to entrepreneurs. Applicants gain priority access to funding opportunities and resources within the IFundWomen community.
  • The Kitty Fund. The Kitty Fund —named for Catherine “Kitty” Abrams Tadlock Webster, the mother of Founder’s First CEO Kim Folsom — will award a total of $25,000 to 25 small business owners who identify as mothers in 2024. Eligible businesses must be based in the U.S., have annual revenues under $5M, and employ between 2 to 50 people. While applications don’t open until March 2024, those interested can pre-register today.
  • Kubota Hometown Proud Grant. Kubota Tractor Corporation will begin its fourth annual Kubota Hometown Proud™ grant program in early 2024. Hometown Proud aims to support cities, counties, and nonprofit organizations nationwide, with last year’s program awarding $600,000 in community grants across five local projects. You can sign up to be notified when applications open at the beginning of 2024.
  • #MomsMeanBusiness. ZenBusiness, a company that helps others launch and run their own businesses, has created the #MomsMeanBusiness campaign to recognize the resilience of moms and celebrate their accomplishments. To help mothers take the first step toward entrepreneurship, ZenBusiness is covering business formation costs and will help entrepreneurs form an LCC, track expenses, secure a business name, and more. All mothers are eligible and costs will be covered for “every mom in America.” The program is rolling and you can sign up here.
  • The National Black Business Pitch. The National Black Business Pitch is a competition aiming to connect Black-owned businesses with corporations looking to diversify their supply chain. It seeks to go beyond offering just a seat at the table by focusing on opening doors and fostering long-term relationships that can lead to sustainable contracts. The selected 30 finalists will pitch to corporate procurement and supplier diversity professionals, with three companies receiving cash prizes of up to $10,000 to promote business growth and opportunity. Applications are due by June 3.
  • The Navigate Program by REI. The Navigate program is dedicated to supporting emerging entrepreneurs from underrepresented communities, including Black, Indigenous, Latina/o/x, and Asian American and Pacific Islander founders in the outdoor industry. This four-month program offers tailored learning experiences, mentorship, and access to REI’s experts in various aspects of business. All participants receive a $25,000 grant, along with access to additional direct investment from REI. Applications open on February 6 and close on March 12, with the cohort selected by May 26.
  • National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE) Growth Grants. According to its website, the NASE has distributed over $1,000,000 in grants to its members. Its growth grants provide up to $4,000 to assist with training, marketing, and more. You must be a member for 90 days before you are eligible to apply.
  • Patagonia Corporate Grant Program. Patagonia’s corporate grant program offers between $10,000 and $20,000 of funding to nonprofits with missions to protect and preserve the environment. If you meet the grant requirements, you can apply today.
  • Rebuild The Block. Rebuild The Block was created with the sole purpose of supporting Black entrepreneurs. Through its grant program and donations, the company provides monetary support to Black businesses to help them connect with community members on a larger scale. Their popular grant program is open right now, but don’t wait to apply — the application form only accepts 90 applicants per three-month cycle. To apply, Black-owned businesses must detail how they’ve been affected by COVID-19 and/or looting destruction. More requirements can be found on the grant page.
  • RTC Women in Tech Fund. Rewriting The Code (RTC) works to support college and early-career women in tech by providing them with opportunities to help disrupt gender and racial inequality in the industry. The RTC Women in Tech Fund provides financial resources to women enrolled in undergraduate tech programs to help cover costs that may be an obstacle to education. There are three different grants available depending on each applicant’s specific financial needs. All applications are accepted on a rolling basis.
  • Sage “Invest in Progress” Grant Program. The BOSS Network has joined forces with Sage, a global leader in technology for small and medium businesses, to launch The BOSS Impact Fund. This fund’s inaugural grant, the Sage “Invest in Progress” Grant Program, will provide over $1.5 million over three years to support Black women entrepreneurs in breaking down barriers and building scalable, growth-focused businesses. Applications for the fund are open until February 23, with grant winners to be announced in late March.
  • SheaMoisture Grant Programs. SheaMoisture, a Black-founded business committed to addressing racial inequality, has created the SheaMoisture Fund to support small Black-owned businesses. The company pledges to provide $1 million in direct funding annually to eligible Black-owned businesses in the U.S. through programs like “The Next Black Millionaires,” offering $100,000 grants and business development support, and “Brown Girl Jane,” which provides grants ranging from $10,000-$25,000 to Black and woman-owned beauty and wellness businesses. Additionally, SheaMoisture offers its Community Impact Grant, giving $10,000 grants to Black-owned businesses based in the U.S. that have been operating for at least one year.
  • StartOut Scholarship Program. StartOut offers scholarship opportunities to LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs who wish to participate in their Founder Program and become a Giving Member. The initiative provides a 12-month membership for those LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs who have been underrepresented, underserved, and underestimated within their community.
  • The Wish Local Empowerment Program. This program brought to you by the e-commerce brand, Wish, assists Black-owned small businesses by dedicating a $2 million fund to support approximately 4,000 Wish Local partners. Recipients can receive financial assistance ranging from $500 to $2000, with flexibility in fund allocation. Eligible businesses must meet criteria such as having a Black-owned business with 20 or fewer employees and an average annual revenue under $1 million. Successful applicants will also join Wish Local, gaining access to its consumer base through various partnership opportunities.

Additional resources

The programs listed above are a good start when it comes to grants and funding. You may find additional resources available by following the links below.

  • Agricultural Justice Project (AJP), a program offering free resources and guidance for owners of farms and food businesses.
  • Challenge.Gov, part of the General Services Administration’s Technology Transformation Services, aids federal agencies in utilizing prize competitions and crowdsourcing to advance their goals. Hosting over 1,300 challenges since 2010, Challenge.Gov facilitated 105 in 2021 alone, totaling a prize pool of over $60 million alongside non-monetary rewards.
  • Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund, a government agency that offers financial support to certified lenders serving low-income communities. The CDFI is broken up into several different program areas, including Native Initiatives that provide training and assistance to Native communities, and the Capital Housing Fund that delivers affordable housing for low-income communities.
  • Funding options for Black-owned businesses, including venture capital firms and programs offering financing to Black entrepreneurs.
  • Funding options for LGBTQ+-owned businesses, including resource networks and organizations that offer grants to LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs and those from other underrepresented backgrounds.
  • Funding options for Hispanic-owned businesses, including funding sources and organizations aimed at supporting Latinx and Hispanic entrepreneurs.
  • Funding options for minority-owned businesses, including multiple grants, funding sources, and low-cost loans that are intended to help minority-owned businesses grow.
  • Funding options for women-owned businesses, including ten programs, agencies and organizations that are helping women entrepreneurs be better represented in the ranks of American business owners.
  • GrantsForWomen.org, an online directory that provides a comprehensive database of grants for women globally, along with valuable advice on securing grants and information on relevant events and workshops for female business owners. The grants featured in the directory are sourced from reputable organizations, foundations, and venture capital funds, covering both nonprofit organizations and for-profit businesses.
  • Resources and funding opportunities for AAPI-owned businesses, including accelerator programs, grants for AAPI entrepreneurs, and networking groups.
  • SBA Small Business Development Centers, which can help companies of all kinds locate additional funding opportunities at the national and local level.
  • SCORE, which can assign a volunteer business mentor who can provide guidance on numerous topics, including funding and operations.
  • Tory Burch Foundation Funding Finder, a tool for founders that provides personalized funding recommendations and resources based on their responses to a few questions about their business financials and aspirations.

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