9 Grants For Businesses Focused On Social Good

Are you a small business owner who wants to make the world a better place? Perhaps by offering a product or service that promotes sustainable living through your dream business or a social enterprise company?

Do-gooders of the world, we have exciting news for you. There’s available funding for those who want to make a positive impact during their time on this planet. And the best part is you don’t have to pay the money back.

Yes, the competition for grant money is pretty steep. And if you’re awarded a grant, adhering to the requirements and guidelines to get your money is a must. But as far as small business funding goes, grants are as sweet as it gets.

Finding some of these grants is tricky. You may feel like you’re searching for a needle in a haystack. Or combing through a morass of confusing info on a website. That’s where we come in!

In the first installment of our three-part series on small business funding in the U.S., we’ll share some grants for businesses who want to change the world.

Environmental Protection Agency 

The EPA provides a number of funding opportunities to small businesses with a mission to develop green technologies. Companies receiving these grants are passionate about developing technologies that improve air quality. Or are finding cost-effective ways to treat wastewater and transform it into clean drinking water.

The EPA is one of 11 federal agencies participating in the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program. How much money is up for grabs, exactly? Well, in the fall of 2017, they distributed $1.6 million to 15 small businesses. That’s a lot!

Foundation for New York’s Strongest Microgrant Program

Is your business passionate about cutting down on food waste? If you live in one of the five boroughs of New York City, you may be eligible to receive a $2,000 microgrant. The Foundation for New York’s Strongest, the philanthropic arm of NYC Department of Sanitation, gives funding, mentorship and in-kind donations to small businesses that are moving toward sustainable waste management practices.

To qualify, you must have 25 employees or fewer or less than $500,000 a year in revenue. Past recipients include Roho Compost, which is committed to food waste solutions, and White Mustache, a family-owned traditional yogurt-making company.

Green Jobs Innovation Fund

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Green Jobs Innovation Fund (GJIF) creates partnerships to offer career advancement to unemployed and low-income adults in green industries. The $8 million available is divided among seven U.S. cities that have demonstrated a devotion to making the world a greener place. Those are Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

An example of a past initiative that received funding? A training program for dislocated construction workers and minority and female contractors in the solar industry.

National Institutes of Health

The National Institutes of Health extends grants to small businesses with a focus on researching and developing innovative biomedical technologies. The program assists companies in federal research and development. And in creating technologies that save lives and generate jobs!

In fact, the NIH is the largest public funder of biomedical research in the entire world. They award a whopping $32 billion through grants and their loan repayment program.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Organic Certification Cost Sharing Program

If your small business produces or handles organic food, your local USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) is here to help. The FSA now offers two cost-share programs for organic certification.

This National Organic Certification Cost Share Program (NOCCSP) is available for producers and handlers in all 50 states. But the Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA) program is available to just producers in 16 states in the U.S. Qualified applicants may receive up to 75% of their certification costs, up to $750.

Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (EERE) offers funding opportunities to enterprises that are committed to renewable energy and energy efficiency. As a company committed to clean tech, you may snag some funding in the form of cooperative agreements or grants.

To find announcements for these granting opportunities can be a tricky matter. You’ll need to scour through its the EERE system exchange page or through Grants.gov. Plus, massive budget cuts for EERE are predicted to happen in 2019, so you’ll want to be watchful of any changes in funding.

Patagonia Environmental Grants

Since 1985 Patagonia has donated over $85 million to hundreds of environmental non-profits through its 1% for the Planet initiative. But only non-profits committed to creating long-term impact in communities are eligible. Grant amounts range from $5,000 to $20,000.

While any group in the world can apply for money, the majority are in the U.S. Past grantees in the States include The Cascade Forest Conservancy in Bend, Oregon, and The California Wolf Center.

Pineapple Fund

Founded in December 2017, Pineapple Fund is funded by an anonymous philanthropist who simply goes by the name of “Pine.” Claiming to be one of the top 250 bitcoin holders in the world, Pine aims to donate $86 million worth of bitcoin. To date, Pine has donated more than $55 million to 60 charities who aim to make a huge, lasting impact in our society.

Past recipients of Pineapple Fund include charity:water, which is committed to bringing clean water to global communities in need. There’s also the Council on Spiritual Practice; The Institute for Justice and Hearts & Homes for Refugees.

Rural Energy for America Program

Does your small business operate in a rural area? And are you keen on building or installing a renewable energy system? If so, you may be able to secure funding through the Rural Energy for America Program. Administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, this program offers restricted and unrestricted grants and guaranteed loans.

To qualify, your small business needs be in an area with fewer than 50,000 residents. And you can get funding up to 25 percent of your total eligible product costs. As for amounts, renewable energy system grants are offered from $2,500 to $500,000. Grants for energy efficiency are from $1,500 to $250,000.

We’ve shared these grants not only to inform, but also to inspire you to create the business you want to see in the world. If your business doesn’t fit in one of these areas of focused, search grants.gov yourself. You may find exactly what you’re looking for!

Stay tuned for our next installment of our series featuring grants for women- and minority-owned businesses.


The views and opinions expressed are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of MindShift.money.

image credit: Bigstock/landio

Jackie is a personal finance writer and content marketer. She is passionate about telling money stories and spreading financial literacy to a mainstream audience.

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