Financial Recovery: Grant Resources for Small Businesses

The private sector has recognized that some small businesses will need additional financial support to recover from the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The best thing about these resources is you do not have to pay them back; the worst thing about these resources is they are highly competitive and each one is unique.  For each grant, interested applicants should check the requirements to see if the business qualifies.  As described below, grants are targeted in a variety of ways, based on categories such as type of ownership, geographic location and industry.

The Verizon Small Business Recovery Fund is being administered by the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (“LISC”), a national nonprofit that fundraises from national capital providers and grants and loans the money out in local communities across the United States.  Verizon is funding the COVID-19 grant program, which will provide $10,000 grants to small businesses impacted by COVID-19. They initially provided 2.5 million dollars in funding but will add additional funding based on the roll out of  #PayItForwardLIVE, a weekly livestream Verizon is producing.  on Tuesday and Thursday at 8PM ET/ 5PM PT on @Verizon’s Twitter, Yahoo, Twitch, and Fios Channel 501. As people support their favorite small businesses with #PayItForwardLIVE, Verizon will commit an additional $10 per use of the hashtag, up to $2.5 million, for a total of up to $5 million in support.  So even if you don’t apply for the grant, if you can use the hashtag, more money will be available to applicant businesses.  The first round application closed the first week of April, but they are anticipating opening a second round in the middle of the month.  The application for the first round was very simple online fill in the box type application, asked for operating revenues and other financial information as well as ownership information and business purpose.

Women owned businesses  can apply for the Amber Grant and for the Red Back Pack Fund.  The Amber Grant Foundation awards (1) $4000 grant per month to a woman owned business and then once a year selects one of those recipients for a $25,000 grant.  This program pre-existed COVID-19 but expects to get applications from small businesses impacted by the pandemic.  The next monthly cycle closes April 30, 2020 – the application asks how the business is going to use the money to grow in addition to financial and ownership details.  The Red Back Pack Fund is being supported by Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx.  The Fund will award up to one thousand $5000 grants to women owned businesses impacted by COVID-19. The name and the amount of the grant come from the history of Spanx.  Sara founded Spanx using $5000 and went to all of her big business meetings carrying her samples in her lucky red back pack. Recipients will also get a red back pack and an annual pass to MasterClass so they can access Sara Blakely’s class on entrepreneurship.  The application portal was closed for updates when I looked last but said it would reopen soon.

The Hello Alice Grant Program targets businesses owned by women LGBTQ+, minority and disabled business owners.  The COVID-19 $10,000 grant is a subset of a larger $50,000 per business “Business For All” Grant program.  This is a long online application that asks about the role of the business in the community and how growing the business will benefit the community.  The grant requires a description of planned uses for the money as part of a growth plan.  However, the webpage acknowledges that applications to assist in recovery from the economic impacts of COVID-19 will be accepted.

Many grants are designed for businesses operating in a specific geographic area.  Here in St. Petersburg, Florida,  local businesses that have been impacted by COVID closures will be able to apply for a $5000 grant from the City.  The City is giving away a total of $6.8 million dollars.  Eligibility is limited to restaurant, bar, retail and personal services businesses (salons etc.).  The full list of eligible business types is on the city web site.  Other eligibility requirements include having 25 or fewer total employees, profitability for one year before 2/29/2020, and a receipt for payment of St. Petersburg Business Tax.  Facebook, Amazon and other large businesses are also sponsoring grant programs for businesses located in geographic proximity to their operations.  There are also grants targeting specific industries.  For instance, Reclamation Ventures has opened a grant program for yoga and wellness studios and instructors.  The grant will provide $2500 and applications close April 30, 2020.