There is no one-stop-shop for all grants or even for all potential grantees. Researching grants will always take time, knowledge of where to look, and even a little luck finding the right opportunity at the right time. Having strong scores on the Grant Funding Readiness Self-Assessment before you start your search will indicate that you have the best knowledge of what you’re looking for and will spend less time weeding through funding opportunities that aren’t good matches for your work. While all effort will be made to keep the resources linked here up-to-date, please use your best judgment to determine their continued validity, accuracy, and relevance to your own funding plan. 

1. Determine Your Targeted Funder’s Interests.

Grants are investments by funders into initiatives that forward the funder’s mission and goals. Many typical small business grants are offered by funders that support economic development and the diversification of small businesses in specific locations (e.g., Massachusetts as a whole, the South Shore, or rural businesses). But there are other opportunities, too. Think like a funder: why support you or your work? Do you serve a population/demographic/community good that a funder will support? A restaurant with a low-cost/no-cost menu for those experiencing homelessness or a shop running an afterschool program might be of interest to funders supporting specific community needs. Nonprofits very often find their “sweet spot” in these categories because many inherently fill community needs that funders also support. Or are you a historically underrepresented business owner? That could mean considering your personal demographic characteristics and/or those of your staff (e.g, BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, gender, age, ability, etc.).

2. Determine Your Targeted Funder Type

All funders have different expectations of their applicants and awardees, but prioritizing particular types of funders will allow you to spend more time focused on better matches.

  • Federal / State grants: These are often very big programs with large award amounts but also very complicated applications and reporting requirements. They take a lot of time to chase, a lot of time to manage, and are really a best-fit for experienced nonprofits, cross-industry consortia, and the rare small business making a big impact or pursuing research of wide interest.
  • Foundation and Corporate grants: Many of these are targeted toward nonprofits only, but some are directed toward small businesses. The application processes for these can vary as widely as their awards.
  • Economic Development grants: These funds are often pass-through funds that originate from Federal, state, and local governments. Many COVID-19 grant programs have been perfect examples of these. While many federally-granted relief programs haven’t been open directly to small businesses, there have been several programs run by states, counties, cities/towns, and even large nonprofits that give directly to small business owners. Thes funds still come with expectations determined by the high-level funder, but are more targeted for small business interests than they would have been if received directly. These programs vary widely but award significantly smaller grants than one would expect to see directly from federal / state programs.
  • Professional Association grants and scholarships: Many professional organizations offer grants and scholarships to individuals and businesses that meet certain criteria defined by the association. Some are specifically geared toward professional development scholarships. These can range from a few thousand dollars to more significant awards.

3. Start your search!

Here are some places to look and further resources. Be warned that the “Deeper Search” resources are going to take more time to sift through the results

  • Federal Grants
    • Grants.gov
    • Federal Register
    • Relevant individual offices (e.g, HRSA, EDA, etc)
  • State Grants
  • Foundation and Corporate grants
    • Paid subscription databases like Foundation Center and Instrumentl; Check to see if your local library has access!
    • Web search. Use your best Google skills and include the funder’s interest, the word grant, and even the year to help. (e.g. “Latina small business grant Pennsylvania 2022”)
  • Economic development grants
    • Your town/city website
    • Your county website
    • Your chamber of commerce
  • Professional Association grants and scholarships
    • Associations of which you are or could be a member
    • Web search. Use your best Google skills and include the funder’s interest, the word grant, and even the year to help. (e.g. “Latina small business grant Pennsylvania 2022”)

Collections of Grants to Get You Started

Note: the opportunities on this list have not been independently verified and the lists are in no way managed by SCORE volunteers! Some sites listed may also be selling their own consulting services and paid-assistance for the application process. Please use your best judgment in determining the validity of the opportunities listed. Never give your personal or business information out without due diligence to verify an opportunity. Should any opportunities on these lists look problematic or predatory, do notify your SCORE mentor so that others are not directed there. If you find other strong, broad resources, please send them to your SCORE mentor  so they can be included! And remember: you always have access to your SCORE mentor – there should never be a need to pay for more help!

Grant Search 101