Part 1 of 2 – Getting Started
Minority grants have been established in order to address the challenges facing underrepresented communities in various aspects of society. Some awards are highly competitive but quite lucrative, so it is wise to understand the wide range of opportunities to determine if there’s a program that is right for you, your family or your organization or business.
Let’s start by agreeing to some important definitions. A grant is an amount of money that is given to someone to be used for a particular purpose. It is financial assistance given to carry out some work. It does not have to be repaid as long as the recipient continues to meet the eligibility requirements. There are no fees. It differs from a loan in that it does not have to be repaid. It differs from a gift in that there are “strings attached.” It must be used for the specific purpose the grantor designated.
Two broad categories of minorities are ethnic and non-ethnic minorities. Ethnic minorities in the US typically extend to African American, Hispanic, Asian American, and Native American. Examples of non-ethnic minorities are peoples with disabilities and women pursuing a male-dominated field.
Understand the Purpose
According to Grants for Minorities, “The goal of United States government grants is to benefit the community and the society as a whole… there are grants given to minority populations in various fields, professions, businesses, and research groups. Grants for minorities are meant to make a difference in the living conditions of the recipients by providing them access to higher education and professional advancement.” Minority grants are also intended to increase diversity and stability in the workforce.
Know the Grantors
By far, the most programs are available through the government. These government grants may be given by federal, state, or local bodies. However, a percentage of awards each year come from private corporations, non-profit organizations, colleges, and universities. Interestingly, state grants are almost exclusively federal monies passed on to the states. Similarly, many private and even faith-based grants originate with federal monies.
Identify the Types of Programs
Business – Begin your search for a business grant with local agencies. Contrary to popular opinion and a couple dozen websites, federal grants are not available for upstart minority businesses. The US Small Business Administration has an 8(a) Business Development program which can offer helpful advice. Dozens of agencies offer small business loans; however, keep in mind that loans must be repaid. Some local and regional organizations offer small business grants to minorities. One of the better known agencies is Los Angeles based FAME Renaissance. A similar program may be available in your area.
Education – Federal grants for education are based on financial need. The US Department of Education is the leading source of financial aid for education. To learn about education programs click here to review our article on the subject.
Research, Development, Community-based Needs Programs – There are aspects of business which do receive grants. These ventures are typically in research and development or in a community-based needs program.
Housing – Housing assistance is characteristically based on financial need and handled through the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. One special grant that is available to Native Americans is the Indian Housing Block Grant Program which provides a range of affordable activities on Indian reservations and Indian areas. To learn more about housing grants click here to check out our guide.
Job Training – Most job training grants are handled at the state and local level. One recent example of job training was through the state of Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT). This initiative trained women and minorities for highway construction. There very well could be similar initiatives in your state.