Grants are one of the most attractive financing options for business owners since they don’t need to be repaid and don’t require companies to take on debt. But grant programs tend to be highly competitive, with many of them targeted at underserved groups.

If you’re looking for small business grants for your company, there are a few places to find them. Below, we’ll explain where to secure federal, state and local grants for small businesses to get your company the funding it needs.

Federal grants for small businesses

Many government agencies provide small business grants to promote entrepreneurship, boost the economy and support innovation. Here are some places where you may find federal grants for small businesses.


If you’re searching for federal funding for your organization, should be the first place you look. Run by the U.S. government, is home to an extensive database of grants from federal agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Department of Commerce, and the Department of the Interior. Funding amounts vary by grant.

Eligibility and application process

The database is vast, with funding opportunities for small businesses, non-profits, individuals and other groups. You can filter the database to display only the grants that are open to businesses.

Before applying for a grant, you’ll need to register with the System for Award Management ( and receive a Unique Entity ID for your business. Once you have your UEI, you can start the application process, assuming that you meet the eligibility criteria for that particular grant.

2. Small Business Technology Transfer and Small Business Innovation Research programs

Powered by the U.S. Small Business Administration, the STTR and SBIR grant programs — also known as “America’s seed fund” — provide financial support to small businesses that focus on research and development for science and technology. Some of the participating agencies in these programs include the U.S. departments of defense and education.

The funds from the STTR and SBIR grants are awarded in phases, with the first phase usually equaling between $50,000 and $250,000 for six months or a year of work. During the second phase, businesses will typically receive $750,000 for two years of work.

Eligibility and application process

To qualify for an SBA grant in the STTR and SBIR programs, you must run a for-profit business in the U.S. with fewer than 500 employees, with at least 50 percent of your owners being U.S. citizens or permanent residents. You’ll also need to meet certain performance benchmarks.

You can find open STTR and SBIR grants at, although some require you to apply on external sites, like

Regional and state small business grants

You may also be able to secure grants from regional or state government agencies. Funding opportunities will vary by location, but here are a few examples of where you might find local and state small business grants.

3. Small Business Development Centers

With chapters around the country, SBDCs are designed to help small businesses succeed by offering counseling, education, and other resources. You can reach out to your local SBDC and ask if they’re aware of any potential funding opportunities in your area.

Eligibility and application process

The process of qualifying and applying for a grant through an SBDC will be highly dependent on the grant and its sponsoring agency. Visit the America’s SBDC website to find your nearest center.

4. City and county programs

Depending on where you live, your city or county may offer financing for home-grown small businesses. For example, Miami-Dade County’s Mom and Pop Small Business Grant helps growing businesses cover the costs of equipment, marketing, insurance, renovations and more.

Eligibility and application process

These types of grants will vary by area, but you can visit your local government’s website or use a search engine to research small business grants in your city.

Private small business grants

Separate from government-sponsored business financing, some private companies also offer their own grants – both for marketing purposes and as a form of charitable giving. These are some of the most popular private small business grants.

5. FedEx Small Business Grant Contest

Each year, FedEx gives 10 small business owners $30,000 each as part of the company’s annual grant contest. On top of that, one veteran winner will receive an extra $20,000 from USAA Small Business Insurance. Companies can also win a people’s choice award for a $1,000 FedEx gift card.

Eligibility and application process

To qualify for the grant contest, you’ll need to be a U.S.-based for-profit business with under 99 employees that’s been in operation for at least six months. You’ll also need a FedEx account and a shipping need for your business.

The application process involves submitting some basic information about your company, including your biography, logo, photos, and a two-minute pitch video about why you should win. The public will vote for the People’s Choice Award, while FedEx will select the 10 grant winners.

6. Fast Break for Small Business Grants

Sponsored by LegalZoom in partnership with the NBA, WNBA and NBA G League, this grant program provides U.S. small business owners with $10,000 grants. Recipients also get complimentary LegalZoom services, such as attorney consultations and trademark applications.

Eligibility and application process

If you’re interested in applying for one of these grants, you’ll need to meet a few requirements, including having an American-based company with annual revenue of less than $1 million. Visit LegalZoom’s website for more information and to get notified when the next round of applications opens.

7. National Association for the Self-Employed Growth Grants

NASE is a member organization that educates self-employed people about key business concepts, such as marketing, accounting, and business strategy. As part of this mission, the group offers grants of up to $4,000 to help its members advance their businesses.

Eligibility and application process

You’ll need to belong to NASE (in some cases, for at least 90 days) before applying for one of these grants. As part of the application, you’ll be required to explain your business need for the grant, as well as how you plan on using the money and its anticipated impact on your company. Learn more about the eligibility requirements and apply on the NASE website.

Business grants for underserved groups

Some grants are designated for certain underserved groups – such as minorities, women, and veterans – who may have trouble accessing traditional funding. For example, LegalZoom’s grant program caters to businesses owned by historically disadvantaged groups, such as people of color.

How to apply for a business grant

While each grant is different, many of them have similar application processes. Here’s what to expect when you apply for a small business grant.

  1. Before submitting any grant applications, think about what sets your company apart. Many grant programs are extremely competitive, so you’ll need to provide a compelling explanation for why your business deserves funding.
  2. If you’re applying for a federal grant, sign up with Keep in mind that it can take up to 10 days to receive your UEI, so you’ll want to sign up at least a few weeks before any grant application deadlines.
  3. Once you have your UEI, register your organization with (again, if you’re applying for a federal grant). At this point, you can also create roles for other people within your business who will be helping with the grant application.
  4. Fill out your application. Depending on the grant, you may be required to submit a business plan, company history, revenue information, tax returns and W-9 forms. You might also need to share specific details about why you’re applying for the grant and how you plan to use the funds.
  5. Wait to hear back. Some grants accept applications on a rolling basis, while others have strict deadlines. In either case, the closing date should be listed on the application.

Business grant alternatives

Securing a small business grant can be tricky. Since grants don’t need to be paid back, many of these funding programs are wildly competitive. Others have strict eligibility requirements, which can make it difficult to find one that’s a good match for your business.

As an alternative to grants, you can look into other financing options, such as small business loans and business credit cards. On the positive side, these funding types are usually faster and easier to get than grants, but they will require you to take on debt. 

Another option is crowdfunding, which lets you raise money for your business from friends, family, business acquaintances and even strangers. In exchange, you might offer equity or a reward (like company merchandise, exclusive products, or discounts).

FAQs about business grants

  • is the best resource for federal funding. On a state or regional level, you can check with your local Chamber of Commerce, Small Business Development Center or your state’s office of economic development. Certain private companies (such as FedEx and LegalZoom) also offer grants, but these can be trickier to track down.
  • Many small business grants are targeted at underrepresented groups, such as minorities. For example, the Coalition to Back Black Businesses — which includes companies like American Express, Cummins, Optimum and Shopify — provides up to $30,000 to Black small business owners whose companies are still recovering from the impacts of COVID-19.
  • It depends on the specific grant and the sponsoring organization. In some cases, you’ll need to generate under a particular amount of revenue or have less than a certain number of employees. Some grants are only open to certain demographics, such as female founders and veteran-owned businesses. You should be able to find all of these specifics on the grant application or on the awarding organization’s website.