Grants are available for minority individuals and minority-owned businesses through a myriad of government grant programs. Grants are available at the federal, state, and local levels. Awards are made for education, business expansion, and research activities among other purposes.
Individuals are eligible for minority-based education and training grants. These are offered through federal agencies including the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Labor. Minority government grants are intended to provide opportunities for underrepresented segments of our population. This includes education grants for specific careers or for workforce training in particular industries.
States offer additional grant opportunities for minority individuals. These may focus on education, training, or business start-up grants. Grants can be used to cover the cost of college tuition, learn a skilled trade, or start a business that addresses an identified need in the state.
Minority-owned businesses can also receive government grants. Business owners should consider the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs for business grants. These programs are available from every federal agency. Each has specific deadlines and eligibility criteria that businesses must meet. They are not for discretionary use by the business. The government department must approval the proposed project and its intended outcomes.
Other government grant programs may be open to minority-owned businesses. When grants are available by government agencies, the Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) is published in the Federal Register and Grants.gov as well as the each agency’s website. On the first page of the notice, eligible applicants are identified. Many federal grants are open to all entities, including for-profit businesses. Some may designate a portion of grant funds for minority-owned businesses. This ensures equitable representation among grantees.
Businesses can also apply for minority government grants from states. State governments open grant programs to the public in a way similar to the federal government. Instead of NOFAs, states typically publish Request for Proposals (RFPs) through each department when grant funds become available. Minority business owners should routinely check state departments of interest for open grant programs.
Most state grants are not discretionary grants. They have specific use requirements. It is not uncommon for states to include job creation as a condition of grant award. If they have a strategic plan that includes increasing the number of jobs available for residents, businesses may be required to create at least one job opening with the grant funds received. This does not mean the business is to pay for the salary of the position with grant funds. Rather, state funds are intended to help businesses grow. Growth is measured by the number of new jobs created by that business.