Small Business Grants to Apply for This Year

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If you’re wondering what small business grants to apply for, look no further. Small business grants are a powerful funding tool for new businesses like LLCs, partnerships, and even corporations. But getting them can be challenging if you’re not sure where to start.

In this guide, we’ll cover all the essentials of small business grants in 2024, including what they are, the different types of grants you might be eligible for, and how to make your applications as successful as you can.

What is a small business grant?

A small business grant is money that’s awarded to a small business with no strings attached. A grant doesn’t have to be repaid; the funds are yours to use to further your business objectives. In some cases, you have to use the funds for specific business purposes, but that depends on the grant.

In a way, a grant is somewhat similar to a scholarship granted to a college student; the student doesn’t have to repay their scholarship, unlike any loans they apply for. A grant is the same way. It’s a great way to fund your LLC or other business.

Small business grants come from a wide variety of sources, and they can benefit different types of businesses: ones in a specific industry, ones owned by veterans or minority groups, and more.

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Types of Small Business Grants

There are a wide variety of different kinds of grants available to many different business types. No two grants are alike, either. Here’s a look at the different grants your business might be able to apply for.

Federal Grants

Federal grants are those offered by federal government agencies. While federal grants tend to be quite large, they’re available to entrepreneurs across the entire country. So, competition for them can be quite stiff. It’s still possible to obtain one, but be aware they aren’t a surefire way to receive funding.

Some of the top federal grants are offered by the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs. The Chamber of Commerce is also a great resource for federal funding opportunities. The government generally favors grants that foster entrepreneurship, technological advancement, and community organizations. Learn more on the sbir.gov and uschamber.com websites.

State Grants

State grants are a great alternative to federal government grants because there’s generally less competition since they’re exclusive to businesses in your state. State grants usually award a smaller dollar amount than federal grants, but they can still give you a much-needed financial boost.

Every state has unique grant opportunities for different types of businesses. We recommend checking with your state’s Small Business Development Center for some initial guidance regarding what grants are available in your area. Your Secretary of State’s website might also have a page for grants and resources. You can also consult with your local chapter of the Economic Development Administration. Learn more on the eda.gov website.

Local Grants

It’s not uncommon for cities or counties to foster growth for their local economy by offering grants to local small businesses. How much money is up for grabs and how much competition varies, though. Some areas offer large grants, and others offer microgrants instead.

Some areas have a “mom and pop” nonprofit organization that sponsors these grants, so that might be a good place to start. You can also contact your local government directly for more information.

Corporate Grants

Sometimes, large corporations will offer grants (and other programs) for small businesses to help them get up and running. Sometimes you have to keep your “ear to the ground” to know about these opportunities, but other high-profile grants get a lot of publicity. Here are just a few examples:

  • FedEx: Every year, the FedEx Small Business Grant contest awards $50,000 to one winner (plus printing perks). Runners-up also receive notable prizes, too. To be eligible, businesses only have to be in operation for at least six months and have fewer than 99 employees. Learn more at fedex.com.
  • Patagonia: Patagonia offers grants ranging between $5,000 to $20,000 for qualifying nonprofits that strive to address environmental crises around the globe. Their programs also encourage marginalized communities to get involved in action-oriented change for the planet’s health. Learn more at patagonia.com.
  • National Association of the Self-Employed: NASE’s grant program requires membership, but eligible applicants can apply for grants of up to $4,000 to use for employee hiring, marketing efforts, and other business expansion opportunities. Learn more at nase.org.

These are just some high-profile grant options with highly competitive applicants. That said, keep your eyes open for new grant offerings, even from smaller brands. For example, if there’s a company you like whose services you use regularly, you can watch for grant opportunities. Or better yet, inquire directly if they have any grant opportunities coming up.

Grants for Women-Owned Businesses

Small businesses owned and operated by female entrepreneurs have plenty of opportunities for funding, at both the federal and state levels. Here are just a few resources to check out.

  • Amber Grants: WomensNet offers $435,000 worth of grants for female-owned businesses. Currently, they award two $10,000 grants every month to prospective applicants. At the end of the year, three grant recipients are awarded an additional $25,000. Learn more at ambergrantsforwomen.com.
  • Cartier Women’s Initiative: Cartier seeks to empower female entrepreneurs worldwide with one-on-one business coaching and prizes ranging between $30,000 and $100,000 annually. Learn more at cartierwomensinitiative.com.
  • Grants for Women: While not a grantor themselves, this organization provides a helpful database of resources and grants available to female entrepreneurs. It’s a great place to start if you’re seeking funding opportunities. Learn more at grantsforwomen.org.

Grants for Veteran-Owned Businesses

Veterans returning to civilian life and running a business can apply for several specific loans. Here are just a couple of the potential opportunities.

  • Second Service Foundation: The Foundation’s Military Entrepreneur Challenge offers vets the opportunity to pitch their best business ideas for a capital grant competition. The Foundation also provides coaching and mentorship programs, too. Learn more at secondservicefoundation.org.
  • Warrior Rising: Warrior Rising aims to help veterans become “Vetpreneurs” through coaching, mentorship, and opportunities to compete in “Shark Tank”-like events to receive grants and other gifts to further their business efforts. Learn more at warriorrising.org.

Learn more with our business grants for veterans guide.

Grants for Minority-Owned Businesses

Business owners who are members of different minority communities can find financial support through a variety of different grants across the country.

Grants for LGBTQIA+-Owned Businesses

Part of the LBGTQIA+ business community? Here are just a few of the grant opportunities to check out.

  • David Bohnett Foundation: Currently, the David Bohnett Foundation accepts proposals by invitation only, but they have funded over $120 million in grants to socially conscious organizations. Learn more at bohnettfoundation.org.
  • Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice: The Astraea Foundation supplies grants for LGBTQI organizations involved in social justice causes worldwide. Their support programs range between $5,000 to $30,000 per year. Learn more at astraeafoundation.org.
  • Arcus Foundation: The Arcus Foundation provides grants to organizations that foster equality and LGBTQ social justice initiatives. Their grants usually range between $100,000 and $150,000, but they only issue grants to organizations that are legal entities (not individuals). Learn more at arcusfoundation.org.

You can also check out the SBA’s LGBTQ support page, on sba.gov, for additional resources and information on support groups and financial grants.

Grants for Black-Owned Businesses

Black small business owners can take advantage of a variety of grant opportunities at the federal, state, and local levels. Here are just a few examples.

  • Keep It Local Business Fund: In a partnership between the NAACP and the Nextdoor Kind Foundation, Keep It Local awards microgrants totaling over $100,000 to entrepreneurs in a wide variety of industries. 2023 marked the program’s inaugural year. Learn more at naacp.org.
  • Powershift Entrepreneur Grant: Every year, the Powershift grant awards $25,000 each to a variety of black entrepreneurs so they can grow their businesses. Other perks include mentorship from Daymond John of “Shark Tank.” Learn more at naacp.org.
  • Scale-Up Pitch Challenge: Sponsored by the National Black MBA Association, the Scale-Up Pitch Challenge encourages scalable growth for black start-ups. Not only does the competition award a $50,000 top prize, but competitors also get valuable exposure to venture capitalists and start-up investors. Learn more at nbmbaa.org.

You can also check out the SBA’s minority-owned business page, on sba.gov, for more information on resources, funding, and support.

Grants for Native American-Owned Businesses

Members of the Native American business community can find a variety of different programs to financially support their small businesses. Here are just a few examples of grants available to tribal organizations.

  • NABDI Grant: The Native American Business Development Institute (NABDI) provides funding to start-ups and existing businesses for federally recognized tribes. In 2022, awards ranged between $25,000 and $75,000. Eligible programs have to be completed in a year. Learn more at bia.gov.
  • First Nations: This Colorado-based organization has awarded nearly $80 million in grants since its founding in 1980. Their grant opportunities vary, but they always support Native American entrepreneurs in a variety of industries. Learn more at firstnations.org.

Many of these grant opportunities are presented by state agencies in western states. We suggest contacting your state’s Department of Commerce for more information. You can also check out the SBA’s Native-American Owned Businesses page, on sba.gov, for more resources.

Grants for Asian-Owned or Pacific Islander-Owned Businesses

Members of the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) business community can take advantage of quite a few different grant opportunities.

  • Asian Women Giving Circle: The Giving Circle calls New York City home, and to date, they’ve provided over $1 million to over 100 different projects. They grant funding to Asian American artists and organizations driving the transformative power of the arts. Learn more at asianwomengivingcircle.org.
  • Backing Small Businesses: Presented by American Express, the Backing Small Business program provides grants to marginalized groups, including Asian and Pacific Islanders. Learn more at mainstreet.org.

You can also consult the SBA’s minority-owned businesses page for more resources and support.

Tips for Applying for Grants

Applying for grants takes a lot of time, and no entrepreneur wants to waste their time on grant applications. But with the right approach, you could be set up for success. Here are some tips on how to apply for grants successfully.

  • Keep an up-to-date draft of your business plan. When you apply, the grant organization will likely ask to see a draft of your business plan: your goals, objectives, revenue projections, mission statement, and so on. Have a draft readily available so you don’t have to write a new one every time.
  • Check the requirements for the grant. Some grants require you to be in business for a certain amount of time, have guidelines for the number of employees you can have, are limited to specific industries, and so on. Be sure to check that you’re actually eligible for the grant you’re applying for. If you don’t, your application will be thrown out first during the grant review process.
  • Set reminders for when a grant application window opens. Many grants are offered on a rolling basis, meaning there are only a few weeks to apply. If you’ve found a grant you’re interested in but this submission deadline has passed, don’t worry. You can apply next time. Set a reminder for yourself so you’ll be prepared.
  • If in doubt, start small. High-profile grants from the federal government or large corporations are possible to achieve, but it’s challenging since there are so many applicants. A grant from your municipality might be a smaller cash stack, but your odds are much higher.
  • Keep an eye on top grant resources. New grants come and go, and it can be tricky to keep informed about them all. Some top websites to watch are Grants.gov (or their mobile app), your state’s Small Business Development Center, GrantWatch (grantwatch.com; does require membership), and your local agencies. If you’re in a specific industry, you’ll want to watch those, too.

With some legwork and determination, you can find the perfect grant for your business.

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FAQs

  • Every small business grant has different criteria that you have to meet in order to be eligible. To qualify, you’ll have to meet those criteria and fill out an application. Often, a grant application will ask for your business plan, a picture of your business finances, and more, so be prepared to have that information on hand.

    Additionally, if there are terms for how you have to use the grant money, be sure to uphold those requirements.

  • Unlike a loan, you don’t have to pay back a small business grant. It’s much like a student doesn’t have to pay back their grant to the financial aid office — only student loans have to be paid back. Grants (for both businesses and students) are gifted funds.

  • Small business grants are like scholarships for businesses; they’re awarded to qualifying start-ups or small businesses so they can pursue success. To be awarded a grant, a small business has to meet the grant criteria and submit by the application deadline. After that, the grantor can choose to give the grant to their chosen applicant.

Disclaimer: The content on this page is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal, tax, or accounting advice. If you have specific questions about any of these topics, seek the counsel of a licensed professional.

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Written by Team ZenBusiness

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