Update Jan. 19, 2021: The latest round of the Paycheck Protection Program is open to small businesses hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
The legislation provides more than $284 billion for first and second forgivable coronavirus relief loans, reviving the Paycheck Protection Program that lapsed in the summer. It also widens the kinds of businesses that could seek PPP funding, such as news outlets, and adds funding for smaller, independent entertainment venues and restaurants. For the latest information, read our PPP page.
Small-business grants provide free money for startups and existing businesses, including those impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
It can take time and effort to research and apply for funding. To help you start, here’s a list of federal, state and private small-business grants and resources.
The U.S. Small Business Administration introduced new coronavirus small-business grant programs as part of the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits, and Venues Act:
Shuttered Venue Operators Grant: The SVO Grant program offers $15 billion in business grants to live performing arts institutions, movie theater operators and other eligible shuttered venues. Businesses must have been in operation as of Feb. 29, 2020, to qualify.
Targeted Economic Injury Disaster Loan Advance: The SBA provides Targeted EIDL Advances of up to $10,000 for small businesses in low-income communities 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. The SBA will reach out to eligible businesses.
Federal small-business grants
Government agencies are among the biggest distributors of business grants, supporting a range of enterprises from environmental conservation to child care services. Applying may seem intimidating, but federal grants are great opportunities for small-business owners looking to grow.
Grants.gov: Grants.gov is a comprehensive 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 2021 contest opens on Feb. 16.
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.
Backing Historic Restaurants Program: This program is awarding grants to 25 independently owned, “historic and culturally significant” restaurants across the United States that have been affected by the pandemic. Each restaurant will receive $40,000 for operational upgrades, as well as $5,000 to improve their digital capabilities.
To qualify, restaurants must be located in a historic building or historic neighborhood and have contributed to that neighborhood’s history or identity for at least 25 years. Preference will be given to businesses owned by underrepresented groups. Nominations are due March 9, 2021.
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. Grants are awarded year-round, with completed applications reviewed quarterly in April, July, October and January.
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:
Frequently asked questions