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Small Business Grant Bootcamp

Grants can be crucial to sustaining and growing a small business – especially during challenging times. In this free mini-course, Brandi Spencer, the CEO and Principal Consultant of The Village Education Solutions teaches you how to write a small business grant proposal with all the components funders look for.

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Course outline

Before you hit the ground running and start writing grant proposals, it’s essential to know how much money you need and what you need it for. In the first mini-lesson, you’ll learn about the most common funding categories and how to set your funding priorities.

The 3 most common funding categories are:

In-kind donations

Are there specific items you need for your business? These could include everything from office equipment to items for giveaways to extra staff for special events.

Technical assistance

This includes mentorship and business training. It can be anything from bookkeeping to marketing support.

Support through a complicated process

Are you looking to get certified as a minority-owned, LGBT-owned, or women-owned business? Grants can help you get help to move seamlessly through processes like these.

Also, in this lesson, you’ll get tips on how to share your company’s story. Learn why it’s so important to explain how your work will positively impact the greater community.

For today’s homework, you’ll organize the essential documents that granters ask for, including your mission statement, EIN, articles of formation, DUNS#, and banking information.

Day 2: Outline the problem and solution of your grant proposal narrative

Discover a two-step method for effectively describing the problem your business aims to solve and how the grant will enable it to do so. You’ll learn how to effectively describe the need or problem your organization seeks to solve and how the grant will help achieve that goal. 

Step 1: Define the problem or need 

Paint a picture about your business and community using emotion. For example, describe in detail how your service positively impacted your community. Be sure to include unique elements about your business and mission.

Step 2: Share how the award will you meet that need need

Next, define how the grant will help you solve the need or problem outlined in step one. Will you have more money for payroll or operating expenses? Are you using the funds for a specific initiative or project?

Share data and statistical information to help to enrich your story. The more precise and more detailed you are, the better your chances of winning the award.

In today’s homework, you’ll collect data and information to make your story more persuasive. You’ll learn quickly to get helpful information from Census.gov, non-profits like AARP, and state and local websites.

Day 3: Define your mission and create a compelling story for your grant proposal

Learn a framework to define your project mission and design. Then, let’s get down to grant writing! Here are prompts to get your ideas organized and have all the relevant information ready for when it’s time to apply for a grant.

Use SMART goals to define your project mission

Good goals are SMART. That means they are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based.

So, for example, a not-so-great goal is: we will serve people. This doesn’t say anything about who you’re going to do business with or the timeframe. There’s also no way of measuring if you’ve met your goal or not.

A better goal is: we will serve 10,000 people by Dec 21, 2022. This way, we know how many people and by when you will have served them. It will be easy to tell if you’ve achieved this goal, which is essential for you to explain in your grant proposal.

Answer the 5 Ws with your project design

This is the nuts and bolts of your grant proposal narrative:

  • Who will you serve and who will be responsible for key actions?
  • What are you going to do exactly?
  • When will your program begin – what is the timeline and what are the milestones?
  • Where will you be conducting your business?
  • Why are you doing this and what problems are you solving?

Consider sustainability

It’s also beneficial to explain how your business will continue after you use the grant money. Be sure to include how you plan to cover additional costs and explain your efforts to sustain your business long-term.

Define strategic partners

Finally, consider what additional support you need for success. What stakeholders from your community should be considered in the project and planning?

To help you quickly answer these questions, use the program planner worksheet in today’s homework to get organized, craft clear answers to these questions, and start creating your business plan and executive summary.

Day 4: Create an organized, well-developed budget

Explore an approach to creating a budget that accounts for all the expenses you’ll need for your program. Learn how to create a complete budget that outlines all the expenses needed to launch your program. No need to feel overwhelmed – the tips and strategies in this section will help you create a budget like a pro.

Project your costs and income

When it comes to income, go beyond the amount you expect to make from your sales. Start by forecasting costs, including equipment, staff, insurance, rent, supplies, and software. Include sign-ups, grants from other organizations, donations, sponsorships, and other resources you anticipate coming in.

In the beginning, simply jot down your projected costs and income as a brain dump. You don’t have to get too detailed just yet.

Organize your budget

After you’ve completed your brainstorm, use today’s homework worksheet to begin categorizing your costs and expenses. As you organize your financial information, add more details in the description for each section. Be sure to complete the notes section and provide as much information as possible.

Once you’ve completed your budget, you’ll have a clear picture of how much money you need for each category of your business. You’ll now know precisely what numbers to put down on your grant application with a clear explanation behind them.

Day 5: Identify your dream funding sources 

Learn where to start searching for your ideal grants. If you belong to the BIPOC, LGBTQ, and/or disabled communities, check out Grow by Invoice2go, a program awarding $200,000 to eligible minority-owned businesses.

Congratulations! At this point, you’ve completed the most challenging part of the small business grant boot camp. Now that you have all your information organized, it’s simply time to start looking for your dream funding sources.

Your ideal funding sources are companies, individuals, and social enterprises that align with your business’s strategic goals and values.

Some great places to start are:

  • Grants.gov – free federal resources for grants
  • Challenges.gov – creative, technical, and science prizes to drive innovation
  • State, federal and local agencies – search online for grants in your state or region

Additionally, search for grant funding from companies that share your business values. For example, Walmart tends to allocate money for education-based grants. FedEx, Visa, American Express, and Facebook are other large companies that provide grant opportunities each year.

There are also plenty of grant opportunities based on community, identity, and cultural background. For minority-, LGBTQ+-, or women-owned businesses, check out our program, Grow. The Small Business Association, Hello Alice, Comcast, The Women’s Sports Foundation, and Amber grant are other excellent places to look.

Use the worksheet in today’s homework to start creating your list of dream grant funding sources. Research online and add your notes. Once you’re ready to apply, you’ll have already done most of the work, so submitting an excellent application will be much more manageable once the opportunity arises!

  • Day 1: Funding planning for your small business 🤔Link
  • Day 2: Outline the problem and solution of your grant proposal narrativeLink
  • Day 3: Define your mission and create a compelling story for your grant proposalLink
  • Day 4: Create an organized, well-developed budgetLink
  • Day 5: Identify your dream funding sourcesLink
  • Course ConclusionLink

For whom?

Entrepreneurs and small business owners looking for additional funding to sustain their small businesses for the long haul. Here you’ll learn how to write a winning grant proposal.

Meet the trainer


HI, I’m Brandi Spencer! I’m the CEO and Principal Consultant of The Village Education Solutions, a tutoring service in Spring, TX. I learned to write successful grants as a classroom teacher, a skill I continue to leverage to land contracts and grants at the local, state, and federal levels. Throughout the pandemic, I’ve helped businesses and nonprofits create winning grant proposals.

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