A good idea isn’t enough. All startups require some funding and most funding comes with strings attached. But a few grants are designed to be debt free and if you know where and when to apply, and have a compelling business idea, they can be a great way to earn funding for your new startup business or nonprofit.
While researching funding options for my new business, Heirloom, I explored a few different grant opportunities. Whether seeking funding support to launch or level up, here are a few grants you can apply for today.
The FedEx Grant
This grant is structured as a contest with a chance to be awarded one of 12 grants valued up to $50,000 for small, growing business. Nonprofits and franchised or direct seller businesses are not eligible. Entries can be submitted until March 9, 2021.
The Amber Grant
This grant encourages an application that speaks from the personal perspective, from the heart, rather than sounding too “corporate,” searching for passionate business owners. The application requires a fee of $15.00. A rolling application cycle is presented with monthly awards.
The Startup Runway Grant
The mission of this nonprofit organization is to introduce under-represented founders to their first investor. Qualified recipients are either a technical product, solution, or a tech-enabled service, currently at the point of first sales or trials, have not yet been through a national accelerator, and have not raised more than $250,000. An open deadline for applications is currently available.
The InnovateHER Challenge
The InnovateHER Challenge is sponsored by the Coastal Bend Business Innovation Center, a small business incubator promoting the development of innovative businesses. Cash prizes, up to $40,000, are available to American entrepreneurs providing the opportunity to launch innovative products and services that affect the lives of women and families. Applications must be submitted by May 22, 2021.
The Halstead Grant
This grant offers an annual award for emerging silver jewelry artists and designers in the US aimed at assisting entrepreneurs to create a strategy to kick-start their careers. Applicants submit answers to 15 business questions in addition to their design portfolios. The grand prize is a $7,500 cash grant plus other benefits including partnerships and marketing assistance. The application deadline is August 1, 2021.
The Growth Grant
This business development grant is worth up to $4,000 to members of the National Association for the Self-Employed. Applicants provide a detailed explanation of how the funds will improve business growth and success. Awards can be used toward marketing, advertising, hiring employees, expanding facilities and other specific business needs. Grant applications are always welcomed and reviewed the following quarter upon receipt. Association membership fee required.
Grants for Nonprofits
The Pollination Project
This unique organization seeks to contribute beyond their initial support toward a worldwide impact through the awarding grants demonstrating community-driven grassroots initiatives seeking to empower individuals and inspire others. Any charitable work that aims to better the world is considered, recognizing the importance of effective seed funding. Ongoing grant applications are welcome recognizing their effort to award a new project $1,000 in seed funding each day of the year. Awardees are then welcomed to access business support development including connectivity with others.
The Ben & Jerry’s Foundation Grant
This grant is valued up to $30,000 offered to US 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations with annual budgets under $500,000. Successful grants generally are to grassroots, constituent-led organizations focused on activities and strategies used for creating social change. Pre-application deadline is May 1, 2021 with a final due date of August 16, 2021.
This government supported site is packed full of helpful information, tools, education and support for companies searching for relevant federal grant funding. Federal funding opportunities are for organizations and entities supporting the development and management of government programs and projects. Each awarding agency defines the specific eligibility along with application requirements and deadlines. Search tools assist with your research, including keywords and specific opportunity titles.
America’s Seed Fund
The National Science Foundation supports this congressionally mandated program granting project, helping startups and small businesses (fewer than 500 employees), working within the US transform their ideas into marketable products and services. Annual total awards exceed $200 million to entrepreneurs fostering innovation and creating jobs in the US. Seed capital is offered for defined periods of time when the company is immersed in the NSF network, receiving training and mentorship. Companies with no prior government work must register, as detailed on this site.
*Ashley Kenny spent the last 15-years producing ground-breaking, award-winning documentaries for organizations like National Geographic, Al Jazeera America and The Atlantic, many earning awards like the Edward R. Murrow and Alfred I. duPont Awards. She is the founder of Heirloom and lives in Washington, DC.*