What You Need to Know About Small Business Grants

Small business grants are a lifeline when you’re facing unthinkable challenges. In the thick of the pandemic, and disasters like Hurricane Sandy, a wide range of grants were made available for small businesses to provide relief while during recovery. . In reality, though, as we continue to navigate our “new normal,” small business grants are relatively few and far between.

Here, you’ll learn about the kinds of small business grants that are available as well as small business loans and lines of credit with repayment terms that can meet your business financing needs and more.

Key points to know about small business grants

During the height of the pandemic, business closures and restrictions led many small businesses to the brink of financial disaster. When pandemic relief grants were made available through federal, state, and local government agencies, many businesses stabilized finances, retained employees, pivoted, and reopened when restrictions were lifted.

The clear benefit of grant funding is that the money you receive is essentially a gift. Unless your business doesn’t use the money as promised, grant funds typically don’t need to be repaid. This is  why many small business owners continue to look for grant opportunities.

Business grants have always been a rare form of funding, and that’s once again the case. There are some small business grant opportunities available, but before you apply, keep these key points in mind:

  • The available opportunities for small business grants tend to be extremely competitive.
  • In most cases, instead of grants from government agencies (as was the case with most pandemic-related opportunities), the small business grants that are available now tend to be associated with specific industries or population segments.
  • Generally speaking, these grants are smaller awards (usually between $500 and $5,000). While this money can be helpful, for most small businesses these grants should be part of a larger financing plan to take on new opportunities to grow your business.
  • The grant-application process takes time. As with a small business loan, you’ll need to fill out an application and the time between when you submit an application, receive a decision, and get your funds can be much longer . It’s not unusual for small business grants to take several months to fund, regardless of the dollar value of the award. And, just like a small business loan application, you’ll need to provide:
  • Some grant funders require you to complete educational courses and/or mentoring programs. They may also have other requirements that are intended to be beneficial for you but may be difficult for you to complete. That said, be sure to carefully review any eligibility and award criteria before applying for a small business grant.

Where can I find small business grants?

The list of available small business grants is always in flux, so you’ll need to research potential opportunities, often through social media and online searches. In addition, every small business grant funder has their own eligibility criteria, deadlines, and application requirements, so be sure to review all of the materials before you apply.

Here are some popular places to find small business grant opportunities that may be a good fit for your business:

  • Hello Alice: This is a go-to resource for small businesses looking for grants! Hello Alice provides a list of current small business grant opportunities that’s updated frequently.  You can subscribe to their email list to get notifications when new small business grants are added.
  • FedEx Small Business Grants: Each year, FedEx selects a handful of businesses to award grant funding and FedEx print services.  You’ll need to open a FedEx account, if you don’t already have one for your business, and from there you can apply for these grant opportunities. New grant-cycle dates and requirements will be posted when they’re ready, so be sure to sign up for updates or check the website frequently.
  • Verizon Small Business Digital Ready: Through this initiative, Verizon is supporting small businesses with personalized online courses, mentoring events, and one-on-one coaching opportunities. Once you’ve completed at least two course, events, or coaching sessions, you apply for grants up to $10,000 Eligible applicants are then entered into a lottery system for the grant funds.
  • BREAKTHROUGH Program by digitalundivided, sponsored by JP Morgan Chase: The BREAKTHROUGH program is more than just a grant opportunity. It matches selected business owners with a mentor, industry leaders, and community along with advisory services, tools and resources. This opportunity is specifically targeted women business owners that identify as Black or Latina (or both) with grants up to $5,000 available.
  • IFundWomenOverwhelmed by the grant opportunities available? IFundWomen has made it easier for women business owners to get matched to the best possible grants for their businesses through their universal grant application. Whenever they partner with a new funder, IFundWomen searches its database of business owner applications and will notify you if you’re a match for the opportunity.
  • The Amber Grant Foundation: To honor the memory of aspiring entrepreneur Amber Wigdahl, WomensNet founded the Amber Grant, which awards at least $30,000 every month to eligible woman-owned businesses.

    The Small Business Relief Fund: Powered by GoFundMe in partnership with Yelp, Intuit QuickBooks, GoDaddy, and Bill.com, this fund offers up to $500 in grants for businesses that raise at least $500 in funding through the GoFundMe platform.
  • Wish Local Empowerment Program: Wish has dedicated $2 million in funding to offer grants specifically to Black-owned businesses with brick-and-mortar locations across the U.S. Eligible business can apply for up to $2,000 in grant funding, and awardees will be invited to join Wish Local.

State and federal small business grant opportunities

Government-funded small business grant opportunities are typically tied to a state or local economic-development or employment goal. Opportunities could target  growing specific industries like agriculture or tourism, or particular areas such as research and development (R&D) in technology, medical sciences, and other ventures. Below are some government opportunities in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania:

  • New York State Empire State Development (ESD): When new grants are available in New York State, you’ll find them here. ESD currently lists a few grant opportunities available to specific industries, including a grant for small businesses that want to expand their international opportunities.
  • Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD): The Community Foundation of Greater New Haven received funds from DECD to make the local small business landscape more equitable as part of a larger statewide initiative to support underserved entrepreneurs. This DECD Small Business Grant program is available for small businesses located within the Greater New Haven area.
  • State of Pennsylvania small business grants: The PA Small Business Advantage Grant offers funding for small businesses to become more energy efficient and reduce waste. The program will reimburse up to $8,000 of project costs based on the project’s environmental impact.
  • New Jersey Small Business Improvement Grant: The Small Business Improvement Grant reimburses small businesses for costs associated with building improvements, and purchasing equipment, furniture, and fixtures. You can apply for a grant for up to 50% of your project costs, up to $50,000.
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA): Through its Rural Development program, the USDA offers grants for small businesses in underserved, rural areas. The Department also offers programs and licenses to support rural businesses.
  • Your Small Business Development Center (SBDC), local SCORE office, or other SBA partners and resources are great sources of information and updates about local small business grant opportunities as well. They may know about grant opportunities through local universities, foundations, and government agencies to help small businesses get established in areas that are undergoing revitalization, such as downtown areas or in rural markets. You can also check with your county or municipality’s local office for microgrants and other opportunities.

Small business loans: A great alternative to grants for small business financing

While you may want to explore potential grant opportunities, it’s important to know that there are many excellent financing options for small businesses like business loans and lines of credit. Often, it’s simply a matter of finding the right lender and the right terms.

For example: Small business loans and lines of credit may be available through your commercial bank, but if you don’t qualify with them, don’t give up: Community Development Financial Institutions, or CDFIs are dedicated to helping small business owners like you get the financing you need to launch and grow. CDFIs also have flexibility in the industries they can finance, their loan-approval criteria, and their loan uses.

Although it will take some research to find the right opportunity for your business, some municipalities, counties, and state agencies offer zero-interest loans for small businesses. Unlike a grant, the funds must be repaid but if you qualify for a no-interest loan, it can be an excellent option.Finally, while not a grant or a business loan, entrepreneur-training programs, like the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program, can give you the opportunity to hone your skills as a business owner and develop networks that can open the doors to potential investors.

Preparing for a grant application can also get you ready for a business loan

If you’re putting together the materials you need to apply for a small business grant, then you likely have most or all of the information you need to also apply for a small business loan.

For that reason, make the most of your time and effort by contacting lenders in your area to learn about small business financing options that may be available to you. In particular, when you find a CDFI in your area, you’ll also find a range of beneficial financing options with repayment terms that make it easier to repay your loan, build your credit, and grow your business.

Pursuit has small business loans and a line of credit to support you

At Pursuit, we offer more than 15 loan options and a line of credit with affordable and beneficial repayment terms, including fixed- and variable-rate interest options, longer repayment terms, and more flexible approval criteria.  Businesses in a huge range of industries and at every stage of growth can find funding with Pursuit.

Our financing is available to businesses located throughout New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania. If your business is located in our service area, contact us today to learn more. And our comprehensive business resources are available to business owners everywhere – we hope they help you grow your business with confidence.

Give your business a boost!

Unlock insights, guides, and more when you subscribe to The Goal Getter!

By clicking "Subscribe" you agree to our terms and conditions.

Related articles

Find flexible, affordable business loan options

The 5-minute newsletter with fresh insights, guides and more!

Learn how to run your business more effectively with our bite-sized info and tips that make a BIG impact.
By clicking the button above, you agree to our terms and conditions.

You are about to leave the Pursuit website

Pursuit provides links from this website to other websites for your information only. Pursuit does not recommend or endorse any product or service appearing on these third party sites, and disclaims all liability in connection with such products or services. We are not responsible for the privacy practices, security, confidentiality or the content of any website other than our own. Pursuit does not represent members or third parties should the two enter into an online transaction, and recommends that you appropriately investigate any products or services prior to purchase. Questions as appropriate to the content should be directed to the site owners.