Tuesday, February 27, 2024

National grant for small LGBTQ businesses announced

The LGBTQIA+ National Grant allows eligible small businesses to receive one of 25 grants totaling $25,000.

Founders First CDC (Founders First), a national 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that empowers the expansion of diverse founder-led, revenue-generating businesses alongside TurningPoint Executive Search, is pleased to announce the inaugural National Pride Grant, a grant fund to support U.S. based LGBTQIA+ small business owners.

The LGBTQIA+ National Grant allows eligible small businesses to receive one of 25 grants totaling $25,000. Founders First is committed to increasing the number of diverse founder-led companies generating over $1 million in revenue and creating premium-wage jobs. To be eligible, the company’s founder must identify as LGBTQIA+, have an active U.S.-based business, be the CEO, President, or owner, and employ between 2 and 50 employees. In addition, annual business revenue should be at most $5M. Pre-registration for the grant starts on May 2, 2023, and full registration begins on May 30, 2023. June 27, 2023 is the application deadline, and semi-finalists will be notified on July 7, 2023, with finalists being announced on July 20, 2023.

Since launching, Founders First CDC has awarded more than $595,000 to minority and underserved business owners throughout the United States, focusing on Texas, Chicago, Southern California, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey regions.

Ken Schmitt, CEO of TurningPoint Executive Search and one of the national Pride Grant funders, explains, “there is so little focus on under-represented communities, especially the LGBTQIA+ community. This cause is personal to me, as I have a transgender son, and I hope to be able to give back and support the LGBTQIA+ community by working with Founders First CDC in providing both expertise and financial support.”

“Given the current state of our economy, small business owners are feeling the brunt of the rising cost of living, inflation, and the challenges to provide goods and services for their customers,” says Shaylon Scott, executive director of Founders First CDC. “This is our first year hosting the Pride Grant, and we are so excited. Our mission at Founders First is to support the needs of diverse communities.”

Kim Folsom, founder, chairperson, and CEO of Founders First adds, “The LGBTQIA+ is one of many underserved and under-resourced groups we look to support through our small business grants and accelerator programs. By providing recognition and representation, this grant also brings inspiration to other LGBTQ+ business owners.”

According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, there are 1.4 million LGBTQ-owned businesses in the United States alone. Of this group, the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) estimated in 2017 that its 900+ members have created 33,000 jobs and have contributed $1.7 trillion to the U.S. economy.

Shaylon Scott adds, “LGBTQ-owned small businesses are essential for a thriving LGBTQ+ community and an inclusive economy. These businesses create local jobs and provide needed goods and services. U.S.-based LGBTQ+ businesses can apply for the National Pride Grant. Twenty-five businesses will receive $1,000 each, and they can use those funds for anything to support their business, whether it’s marketing, technology, or something else to support their business growth.”

Ken Schmitt tells us, “My hope with the National Pride Grant is that Founders First CDC can bring financial resources, talent resources, business knowledge, and experience to LGBTQ+ small businesses across the U.S.” As a small business owner, Ken’s strengths are in driving the discussion on what businesses should do to build a world-class team. Additionally, he and his team provide key insights around outsourcing some jobs and the importance of hiring high impact talent in-house to handle the most critical functions.

These types of LGBTQIA+ grants are essential. According to the Federal Small Business Credit Survey (SBCS), of those LGBTQIA+ businesses denied financing, they were more likely than non-LGBTQ businesses to explain that weak sales led to their denial (35% vs. 26%). They added that lenders did not approve financing for “businesses like theirs” (33% vs. 24%) or that lack of documentation contributed to their rejection for funding (15% vs. 6%). Also, from this survey, 85% of LGBTQIA+ firms reported the pandemic negatively affected their business, compared to only 76% of non-LGBTQ firms.

Besides applying for this grant in June 2023, how can folks help now? Shaylon Scott explains, “everyone can be a force for change by supporting this grant, sharing it with their friends and family, and business owners in their communities. You can also support our cause by donating to the grant fund, which allows us to continue to help more diverse small businesses across the country.”

About Founders First CDC

Founders First CDC is a non-profit 501c3 that was founded in 2015 and has received significant support from the regional community reinvestment banks to empower diverse founder-led, revenue-generating small businesses through three primary programs: (1) Founders Challenge; (2) Founders Bootcamp; and (3) Founders FastPath. By building recurring revenues, tech-enablement, and essential solution focus, Founders First is a catalyst for positive change for underserved entrepreneurs and founders to become leading employers in their communities. Learn more at http://www.foundersfirstcdc.org.

About TurningPoint Executive Search

Businesses rely on TurningPoint to hire top-notch, ethical, and thoroughly screened professionals in a timely manner and at a fair price. Our executive search firm provides a personalized and collaborative approach to executive recruiting, delivering more than just a simple resume or bio. Our process leverages in-depth research, direct recruiting, and comprehensive in-person screening to produce a well-rounded slate of candidates for each search. We source and present candidates with the technical skills, business acumen, and communication style that will impact our client’s top and bottom lines. Our clients expect this type of engagement from their executive recruitment partner.

Queer Forty Staff

Queer Forty writing staff work hard to bring you all the latest articles to help inspire and inform.

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