To celebrate Black History Month, we wanted to round up some of the most important funding sources for Black entrepreneurs, businesses, historical sites, and communities. Here are five grant programs that can help:
African American Cultural Heritage Fund
In November 2017, the National Trust for Historic Preservation launched its African American Cultural Heritage Action fund, a $25 million campaign to support 150 historic places that have been overlooked in American history while representing African American activism and achievement.
As of 2020, the Action Fund has given grants to at least 27 sites and organizations across the country, including the Historic Vernon A.ME Church, Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park, and the Maxville Interpretative Heritage Center, which tells the story of Black loggers from the south recruited to work in the Oregon logging town.
USDA Community Connect Grants
Through its Community Connect Grants Program, the US Department of Agriculture provides grants that can be used to construct, acquire, or lease land or buildings used to deploy broadband services for residential and business communities in rural areas as well as critical community facilities.
These funds can also be used to provide free broadband service to communities for up to two years. In addition to businesses and nonprofits, state and local governments as well as tribes are eligible for these grants.
SBA 8(a) Business Development Program
This program is specifically designed for small businesses owned by “socially and economically disadvantaged people or entities.” While the Small Business Administration 8(a) program doesn’t specifically offer grants, it helps business owners compete for set-aside and sole-source contracts.
Additionally, through the program, minority business owners access a Business Opportunity Specialist, a mentor-protégé program, as well as business training, counseling, and executive development.
Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA)
Under the Department of Commerce, the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) is a federal agency that provides grants to organizations operating their Minority Business Centers throughout the nation. Eligible entrepreneurs can receive business consulting, procurement matching, and financial assistance for their minority-owned businesses. The program also includes grants that target education for formerly incarcerated persons and enterprising women of color.
For example, the Women’s Business Enterprise Council South, a regional partner organization of the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, recently received a $1 million grant from the MBDA to operate a MBDA Enterprising Women of Color Business Center. The grant will be used to provide training, access to capital assistance, as well as networking and procurement opportunities for minority women-owned business enterprises.
Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUS)
The program, offered under the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Community Development Block Grants awards grants to historically black colleges and universities to address community development needs in their localities.
The HBCU Program helps HBCUs expand their role and effectiveness in helping their communities with neighborhood revitalization, housing, and economic development. This program is key to helping rebuild America’s neighborhoods. While the education of African American youth is the primary mission, HBCUs also play important roles in the nation, such as serving as economic anchors to their communities.