Yes, there are available government grants for felons to start a new business in the United States. A convicted felon who intends on starting a business in the United States can benefit from numerous grants to get their new business off the ground.
Although there are not many grants specifically targeted at felons, but there still exist federal grants and federally guaranteed loans to start and run a small business. Truth be told, getting a job and earning a good living as a felon in the United States can be challenging.
Owing to that, entrepreneurship has become one of the most viable and lucrative routes a felon can take to build a better life after prison. Aside from the fact that it allows them to be their own boss, it also means that they won’t have to bother that much about the shadows of their past.
Indeed a felon who intends to start a business can benefit from numerous grants in the United States. Note that each grant will target a specific audience. Some will be primarily for small businesses, while some will seek a specific type of business owners, such as minorities, women, or veterans.
You will also find grants established for businesses in particular industries. Howbeit, there are all still heavily competitive and you have to ensure that you meet the stipulated requirements before applying. Nevertheless, if you are seeking government funding to start or manage your business, below are the top sources of government grants for felons.
6 Available Government Grants for Felons to Start a Business
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Your Correctional Facility
This is usually the first option you should look to consider. If you are still incarcerated, you can leverage numerous resources that exist within the United States prison system before your release. Have it in mind that a good number of correctional facilities have programs that look to aid inmates to acquire job skills that can be useful in starting and managing a small business. Some of these programs include;
- The Last Mile – Preparation for a Tech Startup (California. Kansas. Indiana. Oklahoma. Michigan).
- Defy Ventures – Given Post-release (California. Connecticut. Illinois. Washington, Colorado).
- Project ReMade – Given Post-release (California. Connecticut. Illinois. Washington, Colorado).
- Other Programs: BEST, Mercy Corps Northwest, Resilience Education, and the Ohio Prison Entrepreneurship Program.
To know more about such programs and know if they are available in your facility, reach out to a reentry worker in the facility.
This is a top website to look into when searching for Government grants in the United States. Grants.gov is a system established to help small business owners—felons inclusive—find grant opportunities from more than 1,000 federal grant programs.
To begin, you will need to set up a Workspace account with your information. From there, you can search for grants that match your eligibility. Note that you will most likely not find business grants particularly targeted at felons. Rather, you will have to seek grants that are targeted at your type of business idea, your nationality, your heritage, or other characteristics.
State and Regional Small Business Grants
You can also find small business grants available for entrepreneurs in your state, county, or city of residence. Truth be told, grant programs established specifically to help felons start businesses tend to be small and locally based. The following resources can help you find out if any programs exist near you:
- Your state government website/offices
- Your county government website/offices
- Your city government website/offices
- Local churches, temples, or other religious organizations
- State and local economic development agencies/organizations
This is also another reliable grant database you can leverage as a felon to find grants that can help you start your business. Note that this grant system contains details on more than 28,000 grant programs, including almost 1,200 small business grants.
However, you may have to subscribe to the service to have unrestricted access to the full database. This will most likely cost around $18 per week to $199 per year. Also, note that you can also use their free membership option but this will only provide you with limited information about some grants at no cost.
FedEx Small Business Grant Contest
So many businesses and business owners over the years have benefitted from grants of up to $25,000 in FedEx Office print and small business services offered via the FedEx Small Business Grant Contest. Other winners may get much smaller business grants (up to $20,000) and other numerous benefits as well.
This grant runs every year and you can review eligibility requirements online to get yourself prepared for the next round of grant applications. FedEx, however, still reserves the right to carry out background checks on finalists.
HelpforFelons.org makes available a wide range of resources to give felons a second chance, including reentry programs and lists of grant opportunities and loans. Whether you intend on starting a business or going back to school, there are numerous financial assistance options, from federal education loans to small business grants.