Funding Resources: Grant Opportunities and Investment Funds
Tuesday, June 14, 2016
There are a variety of funding sources available to entrepreneurs and startups in our community. The following is a list recently shared by the Washington Department of Commerce that details new investment funds as well as local and federal grant opportunities to which entrepreneurs can apply. Some of these sources of capital and grant opportunities may be a fit for your company and a source of capital you hadn’t thought of pursuing yet. Detailed information about each investment fund and grant opportunity, as well as how to apply, can be found in the individual press release that accompanies each funding opportunity description. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the launch of a new private investment fund with the potential to inject $100 million into small food and agriculture businesses across rural America. The fund, known as the Open Prairie Rural Opportunities Fund, will be the fourth Rural Business Investment Company (RBIC) the USDA has helped to create since 2014, and is part of USDA’s ongoing efforts to help attract private sector capital to investment opportunities in rural America to help drive more economic growth in rural communities. View the press release here. The EDA recently released its Federal Funding Opportunity (FFO) for the 2016 round of Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS) Program funding. The application period is currently open and will close at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on June 24, 2016. This year, $15 million in Federal funding is available to create and expand cluster-focused proof-of-concept and commercialization programs and early-stage seed capital funds through the i6 Challenge and the Seed Fund Support (SFS) Grant competition, respectively. For more information, check the OIE website and sign up for EDA’s newsletter. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced that it will make digital tools and resources available to America’s entrepreneurs through a first-of-its-kind public-private partnership with tech giants like Amazon, Box, Facebook, LegalZoom, Microsoft, Salesforce, and Zenefits. Whether small firms are selling quilts or cloud solutions, businesses need access to digital tools and capabilities to be competitive. Through SBA’s Small Business Tech Coalition, small firms now have access to explore and rethink online commerce and payment platforms, the efficiency of back-office operations, productivity solutions, cybersecurity protection, and improvements in customer service and shopping experiences to startup and scale their business. The Best Buy Community Grants Program provides support to community-based organizations that are located within 50 miles of a Best Buy facility. Grants promote programs that offer hands-on learning opportunities for underserved teens to engage in learning, experimenting, and interacting with the latest technologies to build 21st century skills. Eligible programs must deliver community-based youth programs for teens, ages 13-18, during out of school time, and serve a diverse population. Examples of program activities include computer programming, digital imaging, music production, robotics, and gaming and mobile app development. The average grant amount is $5,000; grants will not exceed $10,000. Public and nonprofit community-based organizations (e.g., community centers, schools, and libraries) are eligible to apply. Online proposals may be submitted between June 1 and July 1, 2016.Visit the Best Buy website to review the program guidelines. A coalition of artists, impact investors, foundations, and social innovators has announced the launch of a new organization dedicated to connecting artists and social entrepreneurs. With funding from Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors and the Ford,Rockefeller, Mellon, and Surdna foundations, and in-kind support from the F.B. Heron Foundation, Upstart Co-Lab will work to connect artists with impact investing and social entrepreneurship opportunities and social innovators with the storytelling, improvisation, and creative intelligence of artists. Among other things, the organization aims to increase opportunities for artists as innovators, starting with a greater recognition of artists' accomplishments in the private, social, and public sectors; catalyze more capital for creativity by making creativity investable through public equity, debt, and venture capital investment products; and contribute to the sustainability of creative lives by equipping artists with the skills needed to execute their ideas and linking eligible artists to existing social services and subsidies. To learn more read the press release.