Many grants are offered to women to reduce gender disparages or to provide opportunities to women who have been repeatedly shut off from opportunities before. These grants are to promote female innovation and prosperity, but finding them may be tricky. That’s why we’re here to help you along.
What is a Women’s Grant?
These are federal grants offered to women so that the recipient may better their community with it. Many of these grants are for female entrepreneurs so that they may start their own business. The recipient of the financial assistance doesn’t have to pay it back, but she will have to report how the grant has been used and what improvements were seen because of it.
What Types of Women’s Grants Are There?
These are grants from your country’s federal government, large corporations, and non-profit organizations to better the lives of women. The money awarded can be used to fund a woman’s education at an undergraduate or graduate institution or help a woman with a community-benefiting intent such as in the arts, business, in science, or in technology.
As this is basically “free money” applying for these grants will be lengthy and will require an application along with a stated goal and promise of using the grant money solely for what it was intended to be used for as stated in the grant application.
These are free money grants from large corporations who wish to fund projects with financial aid that can benefit the recipient’s community or the company itself (either through reputations or producing benefits that can fund the company). Some companies, such as Microsoft, Kelloggs, General Electric, and Sony, have been known to offer grants to women to use for education or career development.
Like corporations, private, smaller organizations or individuals can fund grants to benefit women. They typically have a board of directors who oversee grant applications and award processes. Some notable figures include Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, and many others.
These grants are usually funded by non-profit organizations and universities to advance the status of individual members. Many professional women’s organizations offer career development or advancement grants for successful applicants to travel, get an education, or receive counseling. Some key players include the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, The Barbara Lee Family Foundation, and many other universities around the world.
Where Do I Find Women’s Grants?
There are quite a few places available. Here are the most recommended places to look, based on the level in which these small business grants are found:
The federal government offers grants for some small-business owners, but they have very specific intents, such as research and development or helping businesses in rural areas. These grants will not be used to cover the costs of day-to-day expenses or starting up your business. Most aren’t even designated for women, but you can still find the ones that are.
- gov is the place that has all the government grants you’re looking for. When looking at grants, you can narrow down searches for just grants involving only women in the search bar or small-businesses in the leftmost box labeled “Eligibility”.
While most grants from federal agencies won’t be specifically designed for women in general, there are a few places to look if you are a woman and you have a small business. You can get help with your startup or other ventures you need.
- The InnovateHER Challenge is a competition for businesses that provide exceptional and marketable products or services specifically for women. Participate in it by first entering and winning a local InnovateHER Challenge to advance to the semifinal round. Then, if you place in the first three places, you could get $40,000, $20,000, and $10,000 respectively.
- The Small Business Administration (SBA) has about 100 Women’s Business Centers around the nation to help women entrepreneurs kick-start their business. The SBA helps women with business development and access to capital. Some locations may loan money to you while others help you find small-business grants you may qualify for.
- The SBA also has two competitive programs, which ultimately provide grants to small businesses that contribute to federal research and development. So, if you plan on doing this, either by yourself, your company, or some other method, you can apply for these programs. There are eleven federal agencies that post these opportunities on their website. You can search all the grant opportunities on the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) website.
Getting a grant on a national level will be incredibly difficult based on the amount and quality of competition you will be facing. That’s why it would be best to find grants offered by your state or municipal governments. While you’ll have to do research based on the state you live in, here are some options for you:
- Economic development agencies are in every state or even major cities and they focus on promoting a strong local economy. Find the agency closest to you to find grants. And even if that agency itself doesn’t provide small-business grants, it should be able to point you in the right direction.
- Find the Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) nearest you, typically in colleges or universities. SBDC offers free one-on-one business consulting and can help you with find grants and other business financing opportunities in your area.
Some private organizations and businesses have national grants for female small-business owners. Two that you can look at are:
- The Amber Grant Foundation, which awards $500 to a women-owned business every month and at the end of the year one of the 12 grant winners are awarded an additional $2,000. The board awarding the grant typically awards the money to women who are passionate about something and have a good story. It’s simple to apply:
- 1) Explain what your business is
- 2) Describe what you’ll do with the grant money
- 3) Pay the $7 application fee
- The Eileen Fisher Women-Owned Business Grant awards $100,000 to up to 10 female business owners each year. To apply:
- Women must make up at least 51% of your business’s ownership and leadership
- Your business must have been in operation for at least 3 years
- It must not exceed more than $1 million dollars of revenue per year
- Your business must focus on social or environmental change
Be sure to follow the instructions carefully when applying for grants. It’s an arduous process as it is and you don’t want to let a careless mistake cost you your grant.
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