Small-Business Grants: Where to Find Free Money

Federal and state agencies, as well as private companies, offer small-business grants. Here's a list of resources.

Steve NicastroMay 12, 2020

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Small-business grants provide free money for startups and existing businesses, although it may take some time and effort to research options and apply for relief.

The good news is a growing number of grants and free resources are available to small businesses, including relief for businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Here’s a list of federal, state and privately funded business grants and resources for small businesses.

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Coronavirus small-business grants

The U.S. Small Business Administration and several large corporations are providing coronavirus small-business loans or grants.

Amazon Neighborhood Small Business Relief Fund: Amazon has created a $5 million relief fund to provide grants to support neighborhood small businesses in Seattle (South Lake Union and Regrade neighborhoods) and Bellevue, Washington.

To be eligible, your business must be a service or retail establishment, and have fewer than 50 employees or less than $7 million in annual revenue.

Economic Injury Disaster Loans: The SBA provides EIDL advances of up to $10,000 for businesses experiencing a loss of revenue due to the coronavirus crisis. The advance works more like a grant than a loan, as it does not need to be repaid.

Verizon Small Business Recovery Fund: The Local Initiatives Support Corporation is offering grants to support businesses in underserved communities. Verizon is supporting the recovery fund by donating $7.5 million worth of small-business grants.

Federal small-business grants

Government agencies are among the biggest distributors of grants, supporting a range of enterprises from environmental conservation to child care services. The application process can be intimidating, but federal grants are great opportunities for small-business owners looking to grow.

Grants.gov: Grants.gov is a comprehensive, though daunting, database of grants administered by various government agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Education and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs: The SBIR and the STTR grant programs focus on research and development for technology innovation and scientific research. The programs help connect small businesses with federal grants and contracts from 12 government agencies.

To qualify, you must operate a for-profit business, have no more than 500 employees and meet other eligibility requirements.

USA.gov: You won’t find any federal small-business grants here, but this government website provides resources for starting or growing a business, including a link to GovLoans, which has information on the types of available federal small-business loans.

State and regional small-business grants

Economic Development Administration: This U.S. Department of Commerce agency provides grants, resources and technical assistance to communities to support economic growth and encourage entrepreneurship and innovation.

Each state’s agency helps businesses find financing (including state or regional grants), secure locations and recruit employees. You can search the economic development directory for regional offices and local resources.

Small Business Development Centers: Your local SBDC provides support for small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs. They’re often associated with local universities or the state’s economic development agency, and many can help connect business owners with financing opportunities, as well as counseling, training and technical assistance.

Corporate small-business grants

Many corporations and large companies have a philanthropic component that includes small-business grants. While some provide grants only to nonprofits servicing specific industries, some give to for-profit companies.

FedEx Small Business Grant Contest: The company’s annual grant competition awards $250,000 to 12 small businesses, including a $50,000 grant and $7,500 in FedEx print and business services to its grand prizewinner. The contest entry period typically takes place early in the year.

The contest is open to U.S.-based for-profit small businesses that have been operating at least six months, with no more than 99 employees.

National Association for the Self-Employed: NASE members can apply for monthly small-business grants worth up to $4,000, as well as an annual $3,000 college scholarship for members’ dependents. The application period for the scholarship program runs from Jan. 1 through April 30.

Specialty small-business grants

To help spread entrepreneurial success across demographics, many organizations focus their funding efforts on specific communities.

We’ve put together lists of:

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