As a startup or small business, you might often worry about the financial strength your company requires to fly, among other essentials like a good workforce and passion for success. However, you no longer have to worry about that financial support because business grants can make for a reliable option in your journey.
Today in this article, we will try to help you understand what a business grant is and what are the top business grants you can aim for as a small business. So let’s get started.
This article covers the following:
- What is a business grant?
- What are the four types of business grants?
- What are some of the top federal small business in the US?
- How can Deskera assist you?
What is a Business Grant?
A grant is money given to a business for a specific purpose. Whereas a lender wants you to demonstrate your ability to repay the loan, an agency that offers grants wants to see that your business aligns with its mission or a specific initiative.
Businesses can qualify for grants for many reasons, whether the business supports a specific government initiative or its ownership meets certain qualifications. A variety of government, nonprofit, and private entities fund grants for a wide array of projects and programs.
The federal government does not typically award grants to start or expand a small business. Its grant programs are usually aimed at nonprofits or other government agencies that otherwise struggle to generate funding.
What are the Four Types of Federal Grants?
When looking for grants, you need to know which is the most suitable one for you. There are altogether four types of federal grants that you must know about as a small business. Let’s look at the list and help you make your pick.
This grant is awarded based on a competitive process. The competitive process includes proposal selection based on a single reviewer or a team of reviewers. Financing of this type is determined by the merits of the application and is not predetermined.
Before going for a competitive grant, it is crucial to understand the grant’s criteria to ensure your application is as competitive as possible. Not always, but you also have the option to contact the organization and communicate with them, and get answers to your questions.
Formula grants are awarded to groups that are predetermined, and the term “formula” refers to how the grant funding is allocated to recipients. Formula grants are mostly non-competitive.
Legislation and regulations set the formula for this type of funding, so funders must adhere to that formula when awarding grants. Normally, the funds from formula grants are awarded among the States by a specific formula.
Next, the choices of which projects to support are made on the local level, and funding is recurring. All eligible applicants who meet the minimum requirements stated in the application process are entitled to receive funding.
Examples of formula grants include the Federal government’s contributions to State and local governments for programs such as Medicaid, health insurance, education, and transportation infrastructure.
A formula grant is different for every program. This means it’s essential that you research the different government agency websites and the authorizing legislation before opting for it.
Continuation grants offer current award recipients the option of extending or renewing existing program funding. This can apply to one or more additional budget period(s) to renew grants that would otherwise expire.
Depending on the grant program, some can be restricted to existing grantees only, whereas some encourage applications from both new applicants and current grantees.
Because continuing applications often receive priority for continuation funding grants, it’s good to keep in mind that if you’re a new application, entering into a partnership with the currently funded entity could be beneficial.
Federal agencies issue pass-through grants to a State agency or institution. From there, they transfer the funds to other State agencies, units of local government, or other eligible groups per the award eligibility terms.
Under this funding structure, States have the option to distribute these funds as competitive or non-competitive, based on terms and authorizing legislation of the primary award. This gives the State governments flexibility and autonomy over using Federal grant funds.
That said, prospective applicants must remember that they’ll need to search and apply through their State’s grants office for pass-through grants.
The terms and audit regulations are established by the initial authorizing agency or institution, often referred to as the “prime recipient.” In contrast, the secondary recipients are referred to as “sub-recipients.” The prime recipient then issues the sub-awards as either competitive or non-competitive awards dictated by the initial terms and authorizing legislation.
Top Federal Small Business Grants in the US?
- 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.
- Amazon Products For Tomorrow Program:
Amazon opened its first-ever Products For Tomorrow program this summer, inviting applicants to submit innovative product ideas that also promote sustainability.
Five selected businesses will receive a $20,000 grant, access to the Amazon Launchpad program, product placement opportunities within Amazon storefronts, and access to guidance and assistance with sustainability certifications.
- The Barstool Fund:
This grant is for small businesses affected by COVID-19 that kept on many employees during the pandemic and have a proven track record of success. Winners are chosen on a rolling basis; apply today for a chance to receive funding for your business.
- 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.
- Fresh Start Business Grant:
If you’re a new business owner or an aspiring entrepreneur looking for capital to grow or launch your business, the Fresh Start Business Grant was made for you. Incfile, a company that helps form businesses, wants to support those looking to start new ventures.
Recipients of the grant will receive $2,500 in addition to Incfile’s free gold plan. The first deadline of June 30th has passed, but two other deadlines of September 30 and December 31 are still open.
- 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.
- Small Business Digital Ready 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. There will be more than 100 grants of $5,000 each available to be distributed between May 2022 and June 2023. Application materials can be found on the U.S. Chamber’s webpage.
- Venmo Small Business Grant:
The Venmo Small Business Grant will reward 20 new and existing Venmo Business Profile customers with $10,000 to use for expenses like rent or for digital marketing opportunities.
In addition to the cash grant, PayPal Holdings Inc. will also offer recipients access to technical expertise and mentorship. To apply, set up a Venmo Business Profile and complete the application before August 11.
- Walmart Local Community Grants:
Through this small business grant, local organizations can receive funding from Walmart and Sam’s Club facilities. Grants range from $250 to $5,000.
- 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 2021 and beyond.
- NIA Research and Entrepreneurial Development Immersion (REDI): Entrepreneurial Small Business Transition Award:
Research and Entrepreneurial Development Immersion (REDI) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Grant applications are now open for those qualified. This funding opportunity aims to support early-career scientists who have an interest in entrepreneurship to make an easier transition into the industry.
Those who have “strong research skills and experience in technology discovery,” in addition to an interest in growing their entrepreneurial skillsets, are highly encouraged to apply. Applications will be open until February 17, 2023.
- NIDILRR's SBIR program:
The SBIR program aims to support organizations to help advance technology, research, and 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 ten 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.
- PHS 2022-2 Omnibus Solicitation of Small Business Innovation Research Grant Applications:
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are sponsoring an opportunity for small businesses. Any qualifying small business — those with the research capability and technical expertise to contribute to the R&D missions of both the NIH and the CDC — is invited to apply for a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant application related to qualified topics. Interested applicants can find a list of qualified topics in the grant announcement.
- Rural EConnectivity Program:
The Rural Utilities Service, a rural development agency of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), has re-opened the Rural Econnectivity Program to help develop and expand broadband deployment in rural areas.
Those seeking to advance assistance to rural communities affected by COVID-19, increase equitable access in rural communities to rural development programs, and reduce climate pollution/mitigate the effects of climate change in rural communities should apply. Applications can be submitted beginning on September 6 and will close on November 2.
- Service Disabled Veteran Entrepreneurship Training Program (SDVTEP):
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has announced a funding opportunity to support service-disabled veterans interested in becoming entrepreneurs after service. The SDVTEP will provide both training and an award of a minimum of $50,000 and a maximum of $150,000.
- 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.
- Small Business Transition Grant for Early Career Scientists:
Both academia and small businesses help stimulate the US economy and produce products or services that benefit the US population. The NIH aims to support both industries while acknowledging there are often problems that arise when transitioning technology and products from academic laboratories to a small business setting.
The Small Business Transition Grant for Early Career Scientists provides funding to those making this change to ensure that the best, most experienced teams are hired, and the projects have enough resources to successfully launch in a small business setting. Requirements for applicants are detailed in the grant announcement.
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) Modernization Technical Assistance Center (SEMTAC):
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) seeks to increase the number of businesses eligible to accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits with this new grant of $5 million.
To be eligible to accept SNAP benefits, businesses typically must meet the technological requirements of SNAP, including specific online shopping technology and other systems.
For some businesses, the labor and price required to install these systems are too high. This grant will help close this gap and allow more businesses to participate in SNAP.
- Trade Adjustment Assistance For Firms:
In the early 2000s, the U.S. Department of Commerce sponsored the Trade Adjustment Assistance For Firms (TAAF) program to help financially assist manufacturers affected by import competition.
Through this program, firms can qualify for up to $75K in federal match funding to help them financially recover from import competition and general business decline.
The Economic Development Administration (EDA) funds local assistance centers that are available to help applicable businesses apply and reduce application paperwork.
- 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. 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.
- 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.
- 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 the simple goal of supporting women entrepreneurs, the Amber Grant Foundation was founded by WomensNet in 1998. The foundation awards a $10,000 grant each month and an additional $25,000 grant each December to women entrepreneurs with a compelling story.
- BIPOC Small Business Grant by Annuity Payment Freedom:
This grant by Annuity Payment Freedom was created in response to the impact of the pandemic on BIPOC-owned businesses. There are both marketing grants to help drive traffic and micro-grant opportunities. These are awarded to businesses on a rolling basis, with winners announced on the last day of each month.
- Black Founder Startup Grant:
The Black Founder Startup Grant program from the SoGal Foundation and other sponsors provides grants of up to $10,000 to Black and multiracial women and nonbinary entrepreneurs. The program accepts applications on a rolling basis and is open to entrepreneurs with a legally registered business who plan to seek investor financing to scale.
- Capital One Business Grant:
Capital One announced its Capital One Business grant program this week, which will aim to support black-owned businesses. In partnership with the Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO), $10,000 grants will be awarded to black-owned businesses to try and supplement any business that was lost during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- EnrichHER Grant:
Does your small business need new equipment, a new marketing campaign, or product expansion? The EnrichHER small business grant will help your business get the funding you need. This program gives eligible entrepreneurs especially women and people of color and businesses $5,000 to help with smaller expenses. There is a $37 application fee, and this application round is rolling.
- The Entrepreneurial Spirit Award by SIA Scotch:
SIA was founded by Carin Luna-Ostaseki, one of the first Hispanic entrepreneurs to create a scotch whiskey brand. Part of SIA’s brand is to support other small business owners of color and provide them with equal opportunities in the food and beverage industry.
The Entrepreneurial Spirit Award will provide 11 small business owners of color with $10,000 plus mentorship from Luna-Ostaseki herself. There are several specific eligibility requirements outlined on the grant page that applicants should review before applying.
- 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.
- Fearless Strivers Grant:
This year, Mastercard and Fearless Fund are partnering to create the Fearless Strivers Grant, dedicated to supporting Black women-owned small businesses. According to their website, Black women-owned businesses receive less than 1% of venture capital funding, despite the fact that these businesses are large parts of economic growth.
To give back to these businesses, the Fearless Strivers Grant will provide eleven small businesses with $10,000 grants, one-on-one mentorship, and digital tools to help foster growth. Applications are open through the end of the year, closing on December 31, 2022.
- 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. You can email the organization for more information on specific grants.
- Go. Be. Elevate Fund:
Formerly known as the Good Work Network, Go.Be. Aims to help entrepreneurs and small business owners with a focus on diverse and minority businesses. To continue to support small businesses led by women and people of color, Go.Be. will grant up to $4,000 toward any project meant to help grow your small business. To be eligible for this grant, you must be a Go.Be. The client so heads to their grant page and sees if your small business fits the criteria for entry.
- The HEY Global Climate Fund:
Are you a young entrepreneur, or do you know one who’s interested in stopping climate change? The HEY Global Climate Fund was created to support young climate activists take steps toward implementing change and increasing young entrepreneurship in the climate activism space. Selected projects will receive $5,000 grants. Participants must be between 13 and 27 years of age.
- IFundWomen COVID-19 Relief Fund.
IFundWomen launched a COVID-19 Relief Fund that provides community-funded microgrants and free coaching to women-owned businesses affected by COVID-19. Grants are distributed on a rolling basis. To be considered, women entrepreneurs must start a campaign on IFW.
- Jack Daniel’s New Beginnings:
Make It Count. Throughout the month of August, Jack Daniel’s is accepting applications for a Black small business grant competition called New Beginnings: Make It Count.
This is the third cycle of the competition, which offers $40,000 in grants to Black-owned businesses in the Washington D.C., Philadelphia, and Richmond, Virginia areas. Interested entrepreneurs can learn more and apply on Jack Daniel’s website by August 31, 2022.
- Klaymakers Hackathon Challenge:
Those interested in web development, from NFTs to Fi+ fields, are invited to participate in the Klaymakers Hackathon Challenge. Klaytn, a public blockchain, will host a hackathon with a $300,000 prize pool, grants, and incubation opportunities available to win.
The company hopes to foster and engage current Web3 developers and attract new Web3 developers, especially students, to the field. Klaytn will be hosting workshops from August 19-September 12, where those interested can learn more about the competition.
- Live Your Dream Education and Training Awards:
The Live Your Dream Awards is a fund created for women who act as the primary source of income for their families. The Soroptimist International of the Americas (Liveyourdream.org’s sponsoring organization) aims to support these women by providing them with grants for furthering their education or training.
Applicants are eligible for awards starting at $1,000 up to $10,000. Head over to the grant page to read more about the eligibility requirements and apply before November 15.
- The Lyfebulb-Veloxis Innovation Challenge:
The Lyfebulb-Veloxis Innovation Challenge was created by Lyfebulb, a patient-empowerment platform, and Veloxis, a specialty pharmaceutical company, to find solutions to improve lived experience and outcomes for patients affected by transplants.
Solutions can include anything from improvements to a patient’s quality of life to new patient monitoring technology. Finalists will be invited to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges during a two-day summit. The top prize is a $25,000 monetary grant, and smaller grants will be given to runners-up.
- 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.
- National Geographic Explorer:
Those who would like to dedicate their time to exploring new horizons should consider applying for the National Geographic Explorer grant. Level 1 funding for this grant was created to help those new to the field get established and join the renowned National Geographic Explorer Community.
Recipients receive up to $20,000 in funding and will have opportunities for training, networking, receiving mentorship and coaching, and more. Grant proposal submissions are due October 12.
- 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.
- Power Forward Small Business Grant:
Black-owned small businesses located across New England are eligible for the Power Forward Small Business Grant program. Sponsored by the NAACP, Vistaprint, and the Boston Celtics Shamrock Foundation, eligible businesses with a maximum of 25 employees will be awarded grants of $25,000 on a rolling basis.
- Queer to Stay Initiative:
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and SHOWTIME have launched their third year of its “Queer to Stay” initiative, a program that supports and preserves small businesses that serve the LGBTQ+ community.
This year, HRC and SHOWTIME have pledged to support at least 25 businesses across the country that have faced financial hardship due to COVID-19. Business owners with an LGBTQ+-serving business are invited to submit an application for funding using this form between now and August 31, 2022. Funding recipients will be notified in Fall 2022.
- Rebuild The Block:
Rebuild The Block was created with the sole purpose of supporting Black entrepreneurs. Through their 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.
- SoGal Black Founder Startup Grant:
This grant allows Black women or non-binary entrepreneurs to receive up to $10,000 in cash grants. SoGal has partnered with several sponsors to create this grant in order to promote and support Black women and those identifying as non-binary having equal opportunities to capital for their small businesses.
To apply, you should have a legally-registered business, self-identify as a Black woman or nonbinary entrepreneur, and plan to seek financing now or in the future. This deadline is rolling, so the sooner you apply, the better!
- StandwithStudios Grant Program:
The fitness industry was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing many studios to close either permanently or temporarily. Many are still seeking funding to rebuild.
WellnessLiving is a cloud-based business management software with integrated payment solutions rooted in the fitness and wellness industry. In partnership with CENTRED, WellnessLiving will commit $150,000 in grants, marketing support, software, and business education to fitness studios in need.
- 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.
- Swiftarc Beauty Fund:
Swiftarc Ventures, a Venture Capital firm, announced this week that they would be funding a $10 million beauty fund aimed at female-led beauty and wellness start-ups.
This fund is backed by influential women in the beauty and investment industries and will reward the winner not only with grant money but peer-to-peer networking opportunities and mentorship. While Swiftarc Ventures hasn't yet released a deadline for applying, this opportunity should be on your radar!
How Can Deskera Assist You?
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- A grant is money given to a business for a specific purpose.
- Federal agencies issue pass-through grants to a State agency or institution.
- The federal government does not typically award grants to start or expand a small business. Its grant programs are usually aimed at nonprofits or other government agencies that otherwise struggle to generate funding.
- Businesses can qualify for grants for many reasons, whether the business supports a specific government initiative or its ownership meets certain qualifications.
- A competitive grant is awarded based on a competitive process. The competitive process includes proposal selection based on a single reviewer or a team of reviewers.
- Formula grants are awarded to groups that are predetermined, and the term “formula” refers to how the grant funding is allocated to recipients. Formula grants are mostly non-competitive.
- Continuation grants offer current award recipients the option of extending or renewing existing program funding. This can apply to one or more additional budget periods to renew grants that would otherwise expire.