25 Small Business Grants You Can Apply For

Find out if you qualify for these generous business grants.

Getting a small business loan is hardly the only way to fund a business. Whether it’s trying to find capital to start a business or funding for an existing business, one channel that is often overlooked is small business grants.

Across the U.S., on the state, federal and local level, governments as well as public and private organizations offer a vast variety of grants to small businesses and nonprofits. These can be generic small business grants or they can be highly tailored to an industry, to a specific type of technological or research development, to a specific region of the country and more. Read on to find out some of the best small business grants you should apply for.

1. Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR) Grants

The Small Business Innovation Research Program is a popular program that promotes small businesses that engage in research and development that could have or do have commercial potential. The SBIR’s purpose is to encourage technological innovation and scientific entrepreneurship, with the Small Business Administration (SBA) serving as its coordinating agency. In order to be eligible for SBIR grants, your business must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a for-profit business located in the United States
  • The business must be more than 50% owned and controlled by one or more individuals who are citizens of, or permanent resident aliens in, the U.S. Alternatively, if your business is more than 50% owned by another for-profit business who’s controlled by those who are citizens of, or permanent resident aliens in, the U.S. you can be eligible.
  • Maximum of 500 employees
  • For awards from agencies using the authority under 15 U.S. Code 638, Research and Development, (dd)(1) — an awardee may be owned and controlled by more than one venture capitalist, hedge fund or private equity firm as long as none of these firms own a majority of the stock
  • Phase I awardees with multiple previous awards must meet the benchmark requirements for progress toward commercialization.

This last criterion is central to the SBIR program, which is to harness R&D towards truly creating something commercial and hopefully, down the line, profitable. Hence, a business can win multiple SBIR awards, but you need to show that you’re making progress towards realizing a commercial output for all your research and funding. According to the SBIR website, Phase I grants can be made up to $256,580, and if your business looks promising, you can move onto Phase II awards, which can be up to $1,710,531. Anything more requires a waiver from the SBA to grant.

Related: 9 Small Business Grants for Women

2. Small Business Technology Transfer Program (STTR) Grants

The STTR program is related to the SBIR program and has similar goals. The main difference is that the STTR program requires its small business applicants to formally collaborate with a research institution. This collaboration exists in Phase I and Phase II of the program, so it’s not a permanent partnership between the institution and your business. In forming this collaboration, the STTR program works towards its principal role, which is to bridge the gap between performance of science and commercialization of the innovations that result.

Funding amounts for STTR grants are based on phases. In Phase I, the objective is to establish the feasibility and commercial potential of the proposed R&D plans. Thus, Phase I awards are the smallest, not exceeding $150,000 for one year. In Phase II, R&D efforts are continued, and awards generally max out at $1,000,000 to cover costs for two years. In Phase III, the small business pursues commercialization objectives determined in Phase I and II, and no longer receives funding through the STTR program. However, in this phase, small businesses may be able to get non-STTR funding for R&D or they may start taking government contracts.

3. National Institutes of Health Grants

The National Institutes of Health (NIH), a division of the Department of Health and Human Services, is actually the largest public funder of biomedical research in the world. The NIH invests more than $32 billion a year toward enhancing life and reducing illness and disability. NIH grants project-based for small businesses. By following NIH Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOA), you can find research grants for projects that your small business can do or is already involved in pursuing. To find these FOAs, check out the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts, which has a massive database of research grant opportunities.

4. National Institute of Standards and Technology Grants

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is a physical sciences laboratory and an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Its main purpose is to promote innovation and industrial competitiveness, with its roots lying in establishing a first-rate measurement infrastructure for U.S. businesses back in an era when it lagged behind those of the United Kingdom, Germany and other countries.

The NIST offers a variety of research-based grants, some to academic institutions, organizations and businesses. The NIST recently announced its Small Business Innovation Research Program Phase I for 2020. Science and technology-based small businesses with strong research capabilities are encouraged to apply for the grant. The Phase I grant award ceiling is $100,000, but the estimated total program funding is $1.2 million.

5. Department of Defense Grants

The Department of Defense has a few grant programs. Through the agency, Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) is a grant program to help research and development focused on using lasers and other light source technology to develop applications in medicine, photobiology, surgery, and closely related materials sciences, with applications to combat casualty care and other military medical problems. The program is mainly directed toward medical institutions based in universities, but small businesses, nonprofits and other types of organizations are eligible as well.

Also: The 20 Best Businesses to Start

6. Environmental Protection Agency Grants

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awards government grants for small businesses that focus on advancing green technology and sustainable scientific developments. According to the EPA, as of November 2019, its SBIR program awarded $2.7 million in funding to nine small businesses. These firms have been working on a broad range of topics, such as water quality, air quality, land revitalization, homeland security, manufacturing and construction materials.

7. Department of Transportation Grants

The Department of Transportation (DOT) is another federal department that works with the SBIR program. The DOT provides grants through its transportation systems center, Volpe Center, and accepts solicitations from businesses that aim to improve some aspect of the national transportation system or enhance the ability of the DOT to perform its mission. Phase I grants for this program typically max out at $150,000 for a six-month period and Phase II awards usually do not exceed $1,000,000 for a two-year period.

8. Department of Homeland Security Grants

The Department of Homeland Security offers several grant programs that some small businesses are eligible for. Your business should be involved in work that’s related to border and maritime security, chemical and biological defense, cybersecurity, explosives or first responder group technology. The Department of Homeland Security partners with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to offer its Port Security Grant Program (PSGP), which is focused on transportation infrastructure security.

FYI: The Best Banks for Small Businesses

9. Department of Education Grants

The Department of Education is another one of the 11 government departments that work with the SBIR program. The Department of Education’s grant program operates through its research arm, the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) and offers up to $1,100,000 in funding to small businesses and partners for research and development to translate their innovative ideas into commercially viable products that address educational problems in education and special education. Like other SBIR programs, it works in phases; Phase I offers awards for periods of up to eight months and amounts up to $200,000. Phase II awards are for periods of up to two years and amounts up to $900,000.

10. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Grants

The NOAA works with the SBIR program to offer small business grants through its Technology Partnerships Office. NOAA grant programs focus on developments and research in coastline communities and economies, healthy ocean monitoring, climate adaptation and mitigation, plus other related fields. NOAA Phase I grants can be up to $120,000 for a six-month period of performance, whereas Phase II grants can be up to $400,000 for a 24-month period.

See: 6 Small Business Trends for 2020

11. Department of Energy Grants

The Department of Energy (DOE) has grant programs for small businesses, though your business will have to be pretty advanced in what it works on. The DOE offers a grant opportunity through the U.S. Industry Opportunities for Advanced Nuclear Technology Development. The basis for this grant is to offer a direct vehicle to support innovative, domestic nuclear industry-driven designed and technologies, with a strong potential to help improve the overall economic outlook for nuclear power in the U.S. The grant award ceiling is $40 million and is open to small businesses and for-profit organizations besides small businesses.

12. Rural Energy for America Program Grants

The Department of Agriculture conducts the Rural Energy for America Program. Part of the department’s Rural Development division, this grant program provides guaranteed loan financing and grant funding to rural small businesses and agricultural producers for renewable energy systems or to make improvements to enhance their energy efficiency.

In order to be eligible, small businesses must be located in an area other than a city or town with a population of more than 50,000 people outside the urban area of that city or town. Agricultural producers are eligible no matter if they’re in rural or non-rural areas but must show that at least 50% of their gross income comes from agricultural operations. The Renewable Energy Systems Grant has terms ranging from $2,500 to $250,000 and the Energy Efficiency Grant has terms of $1,500 to $250,000. Take note, however, that applicants must provide at least 75% of the project cost if you’re applying for the grant only. If you pursue a combination of a loan and grant, you’re responsible for at least 25% of the project cost.

See: How to Safeguard Your Business for the Next Recession

13. Value-Added Producer Grants

This is another grant program for businesses that are agricultural producers. The Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) is offered through the Rural Development division of the USDA. The grant program helps agricultural producers get involved in value-added activities, with the goal being to generate new products, create and expand marketing opportunities and increase producer income. Maximum grant amounts for planning grants and working capital grants are $75,000 and $250,000, respectively.

14. Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grants

The Distance Learning and Telemedicine program is another grant offered by the Department of Agriculture through its Rural Development division. Eligible entities for the grant include small businesses, most state and local governmental entities, federally-recognized tribes, non-profits and consortia of eligible entities. These entities need to be in work that provides education or healthcare through telecommunications, with the overall goal of helping rural communities use these capabilities to connect to other communities and the rest of the world. For the fiscal year 2020 program, awards range from $50,000 to $500,000.

Read: SBA Loan Rates of 2020

15. Food and Drug Administration Grants

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) works through the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to provide medical-focused grants. Some of these programs include the Integrated Pathogen Reduction Technologies grant for businesses, non-profits, public and state universities and other entities for developing innovative pathogen reduction technologies for whole blood and blood components with the aim of preventing transfusion-transmitted infectious diseases. Grant awards range from $1.6 million to $8 million.

16. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Grants

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is a section of the Center for Disease Control (CDC). They offer the NIOSH Small Research Grant Program, which is open to small businesses as well as a broad range of other entities. The main purpose of this program is to develop an understanding of the risks and conditions related to occupational diseases and injuries. This includes exploring methods for reducing risks and preventing or minimizing exposure to hazardous conditions in the workplace and translating major scientific findings into prevention practices and products that will effectively reduce work-related illnesses and injuries. The program awards grants of between $50,000 and $1 million and the research projects are considered small.

Also: How to Start a Business Using Angel Investors

17. Agency for Health Care Research and Quality Grants

Here is another grant program that comes out of the HHS through the Agency of Healthcare Research and Quality. This is the AHRQ Small Research Grant Program, which is open to wide pool of applicants, including small businesses and for-profits other than small businesses. The grant has an award ceiling of $100,000 and is designed to support a variety of health services research projects, including pilot and feasibility studies; secondary analysis of existing data; small, self-contained research projects; development of research methodology; and development of new research technology.

18. Regional Food Systems Partnerships Grants

The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) offers the Regional Food System Partnerships grant program. This grant is eligible for small businesses and many other entities, including government organizations and nonprofits, that work on projects that support partnerships to plan and develop local or regional food systems. The grant is administered through two project types, Planning and Design, with awards ranging from $100,000 to $250,000, and the Implementation and Expansion phase, with awards ranging from $250,000 to $1 million.

19. High Energy Cost Grants

Another USDA-sponsored grant program is its High Energy Cost Grants. Also called Assistance to High Energy Cost Communities, this program helps energy providers and other eligible entities to lower energy costs for families and individuals in areas with very high per-household energy costs, equivalent to at least 275% of the national average. Grant awards range from $100,000 to $3 million. The funds can be used for a variety of energy-related work, such as electrical generation, transmission and distribution, natural gas distribution and storage, petroleum product store and handling, renewable energy and more.

Also: 15 Free Resources for Small Businesses

20. FedEx Small Business Grants

The FedEx Small Business Grant isn’t a government grant, coming from the private sector, the FedEx company. Whereas government grants often are more project-based, the FedEx Small Business Grant is focused on the individual businesses who apply. Plus, the FedEx Small Business Grant has an element of crowdfunding to it: You campaign for votes toward your grant application profile. In total, there are 12 winners: one grand prize winner who gets $50,000, plus $7,500 in FedEx office services; one silver prize winner who gets $30,000, plus $5,000 in FedEx Office services; and 10 bronze prize winners who get $15,000 plus $1,000 in FedEx Office services.

21. Visa Everywhere Initiative Grants

Another cool private sector grant is the Visa Everywhere Initiative, which offers grant funding for small business startups and fintechs that help solve payment and commerce challenges of the future, further enhance their own proposed products and provide visionary solutions for Visa’s large network of partners. The overall winner gets $50,000, the audience favorite $25,000, second place $15,000 and third place $10,000.

Read: 4 Signs It’s Time to Get a Business Line of Credit

22. Comcast Innovation Fund Grants

The cable and internet provide Comcast offers a couple of small business grants. One of them is the Open Source Development Grants, which is for business owners who are developing the best open-source software. Other grant programs include Research Grants, which can be general or targeted research; and Useful and Interesting Things Grants, which fund work that contributes to the internet in novel and useful ways.

The areas of interest for this Comcast grant include network and user security, Internet of Things (IoT), video-related work, content delivery networks, user authentication, broadband internet and much more. There’s no award figure on the website, but Comcast doesn’t anticipate individual grants exceeding $150,000. In order to apply, each applicant must create a Comcast Innovation Fund account, select a grant, submit a CV, provide a description of their project or research and the goals.

23. National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE) Growth Grants

If you’re self-employed, a great grant available to you is through the National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE) and its Growth Grants program. In order to qualify, you do need to be a member of the NASE and be in good standing for three months before submitting your applications. The NASE grant is designed to help small businesses and freelancers develop and grow their ventures. Criteria to be eligible include your ability to demonstrate a business need that could be met by the grant, provide a detailed explanation of how you plan to use the grant money and show how the grant will improve your business’s growth and success.

See: 20 Best Low-Cost Franchises You Can Start

24. ActivityHero Business Grants

The ActivityHero Grant Contest offers eight startup businesses cash and prizes, with the stipulation that your business must provide children’s camps, classes or activities at locations in the U.S. The grant awards cash and prizes worth $10,000 to the overall winner, with $5,000 in cash and $5,000 in services. For the seven finalists, they receive $500 each in services. You apply by filling out an application, getting three family reviews and then boost your odds by getting votes from customers.

25. 4.0 Fellowships

Fellowships are typically geared towards universities or their students. With 4.0 Fellowships, education and schools are the main focus of the fellowship, but the eligibility requirements are more open than other fellowships. To be eligible, you need to either be a school or a business that provides a program, service, tech tools or physical product in service of learning and meant for children, families or educators. 4.0 offers the Essentials Fellowship and Tiny Fellowship. The Essentials Fellows receive $300 to run their first pop-up operation followed by another $300 once they’ve completed their first so they can expand to operate more pop-ups. Tiny Fellows receive $7,000 to run their pilot and an additional $3,000 after they’ve completed this to develop their idea further.

Up Next: What Kind of Business Should I Start? How to Choose

The Bottom Line

When it comes to small business grants, you have plenty of potential options to pursue. What’s more, there are many, many more grants beyond those on this list. States, cities and local authorities and organizations also offer a variety of small business grants. There are also small business grants that are specifically created for women, minorities and veterans. Government grants tend to offer the most money, but either way, public or private, small business owners have a large catalog of grants that they can apply for to get the funding they need.

More From Seek

Business Loan Resources

Photo Credit: nd3000/Shutterstock.com

48 thoughts on “25 Small Business Grants You Can Apply For

  1. I am looking for a government small business loan to help my business grow and purchase more inventory we are in new business and every year our Profits have more than doubled our company is owned by one person we have roughly $300,000 in inventory that is paid for but we need more capital during these slow times
    Sincerely Bryan

  2. I’d like help obtaining a small business grant for my wildlife / animal control and management business, Attic Attack Wildlife Services, LLC.

    1. I am a small business owner of Parcel/Delivery company. We have suffered greatly through Executive Order that shut down not only our contracts but future clientele base. Please let me know where I can get a grant to keep Operations up float.

  3. I am on a small photo kiosk business and I’ve lost 22 events so just needing some help to get me through these tough times.

  4. I have a small beauty shop that the COVID-19 has almost put a stop to need a small grant to keep my business open and thriving through this difficult time

  5. Omni Behavioral Services LLC, is a HUB, minority ,veteran own ,small business Substance Abuse Intensive Outpatient Treatment structured program that provides individual, group and family counseling, crisis prevention/intervention. Substance abuse prevention/education to individuals and their families whose lives have been affected by substance abuse. Omni receive referrals only from participants that are on probation or post release.
    Services are conducted in an atmosphere of dignity and respect for those affected by substance abuse issues. The program is designed to assist clients to begin recovery and learn skills for maintaining a substance-free lifestyle. The program is intended for individuals not requiring hospitalization or residential services, but who need more than once-weekly intensive outpatient services. The program is also intended to meet the needs of individuals moving out of detoxification, inpatient, or rehabilitation facilities.

  6. I’m a over 60 years old latin woman sole proprietor/operator of a beauty salon in business for longer than 9 years . This novel COVID-19 has make us shut down the business, I still need to pay rent, bills and I have 4 people depending on this business. Some companies have offered me loans at low rate interests, but honestly I’m not interested in a loan, just because i can’t guarantee how able I will be able to pay it back, and my situation will be even worse than it currently is. I’m looking for a grant that helps me to handle with this complicated time.

    Could you help me ? I w

  7. Good Afternoon:
    I run a small Nursery/Farm and have an opportunity to obtain a property to expand my business. I have also been a licensed Industrial Hemp grower since 2017. The property I mentioned would GREATLY increase my ability to grow more produce, nursery trees and evergreens and hemp. Instead of a nine month crop, this property would allow me to grow all year long. A Grant would be quite useful for this endeavor, and I am curious how, and which one to apply for.
    Thank you for your time!

  8. My name is Robert Bradford and I own my own HVAC business, but due to this novel COVID-19 , I been shut down until further notice. I can’t afford to take out a small business loan , but need to know if there are any small business grant that I can apply for. Please, I need your help during this difficult time.

  9. I am a chef who relocated to the Pocono region of PA to study with a local restaurant owner so that I can acquire his restaurant, however, when COVID-19 hit and beef prices increased substantially, the owner was forced to close his doors leaving me with no alternative for work & a limited time to raise the funds needed to acquire the restaurant before it was opened to the highest bidder.
    BBQing & cooking is my passion and has long been a dream of mine to own and operate my own restaurant. After having my fiancee & family relocate with hopes to help me fulfill this dream, I’m lost as to my next steps can be to acquire enough revenue to make this a reality. Any assistance and/or direction is appreciated.

      1. Hi Laira,l have a curtain and essential product shop.Would like to know where l can get a grant who can assist me with my expenses..My business suffer alot during Covid 19 and l can’t pay my expenses and salaries..can you please assist or advise…

  10. I am a transportation company providing private car services to airports, train stations and medical appointments. I have gone from 17 jobs a day to 6 a month. I cannot take out a loan. Are there any grants ?

    1. Hi Joanne,

      We provide funding for small businesses and startups. The article you see here is some research we did on grants you may qualify for. We do not offer grants but encourage you to research options on your own. If you are interested in a small business funding, don’t hesitate to reach out.

      Best,
      Laira

      1. I need start for my online business like 6,0000000 naira in order to empower lives pls I need your help

  11. I am a small nail salon owner We just recently opened in February 1st of 2020 We have five employees totals and they’re all contractors now I wonder if I can apply for a small grant so I can keep my business going since the pandemic covid19 nearly wipe us dry

  12. I’m from Nigeria and own a small computer business that is suffering because of Covid-19. Can I apply

  13. I am a startup contract manufacturing company looking for a grant to continue funding the project for a startup date in 2021. So far it’s I’ve self funding it and looking for support.

  14. Hi Laira,l have a curtain and essential product shop.Would like to know where l can get a grant who can assist me with my expenses..My business suffer alot during Covid 19 and l can’t pay my expenses and salaries..can you please assist or advise…

  15. Hi, My name is Danielle. My husband and I own a car transport service. Are there any grants available for independent car hauling companies like ours?

  16. Hi, I am a small business owner of a convenience store. I need to hire people and equipment purchasing. Including update and add on extra precaution material due to COVID-19

  17. I open a beautiful Tea Bar & Home decor store in Nov 2019 was doing great until COVID-19 shut down the store for 3 months and customers can’t still sit inside to have there tea because indoor ban people to sit inside of tea bar are still scared out there. I put my life saving into my dream shop and I am out of money, need to pay rent and bills and get some new supplies in which some was loss during virus our food products. Our store is environmentally friendly that serves organic loose leaf tea and sell rustic primitive home decor. I need help with this virus my credit went to hell so getting a loan I really can’t afford now. Please I need help. Right now I am trying to hold on with the business and my house and kids my husband past a few years ago. I can’t find no one to help our small business in Hamilton new jersey

  18. Hello. I was inquiring about. Start up grant or financial option, as I run a landscaping outfit, that specializes in taking care of elderly residents at an affordable price. I was wondering if there was anything I could apply for grant wise in order to properly keep working during these trying times. Thank you.

  19. My wife and I are looking to build a new building. In this building we will move her nail salon and also add a small laundromat and yoga studio. We are in a small rural farm community which is in need of a laundromat. We are looking for a small business grant. Any help would be greatly appreciated. THANKS

  20. I am in need of a Grant to keep my small business alive. I have been in business 7 years and because of COVID I am struggling. I have applied for everything available, have yet to receive any help and I have lost a lot of clientele because of what is going on. Please, if you have guidance I would be so appreciative.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Best Startup Loans of 2020 - Get Between $5,000 and $500,000

How much money does your business need?
Did you learn something from this article?

Get more great articles straight to your inbox!

Let us make it up to you with better articles straight to your inbox.

subscribe for more great funding ideas,
guides & how to's

We respect your privacy. privacy policy


Recommended For You

Capital Lease vs. Operating Lease: Which Should You Choose?

When operating or starting a business, leasing can be an excellent way to get your hands on key assets, like equipment, vehicles or even office technology, without purchasing these items upfront. However, like anything involving finances and your business, you... Read More

Equity Financing: What Is It and Is It Right for You?

Small businesses have tons of financing options. You can get funding through traditional bank loans, online lenders, invoice factoring services, alternative lenders, equipment financing and much more. With so many options, it can sometimes be overwhelming, making it tough to determine which form of... Read More

11 Small Business Grants for Women

Funding your business through a grant can be challenging but also very rewarding. Since a grant is not a loan or form of credit, there is no expectation to repay it. And with record numbers of female entrepreneurs starting businesses... Read More

How Much Insurance Does Your Business Really Need?

A large percentage of small businesses in the United States don’t have enough insurance to protect them if things go wrong. Insurance can mean the difference between a setback and a disaster for the small business owner, but it’s also... Read More

subscribe for more great funding ideas,
guides & how to's

We respect your privacy. privacy policy