Grant Opportunities & Business Resources

Grant Opportunities


  • Visa Everywhere Initiative: A global competition that gives startups the chance to win a combined $70,000 at the TechCrunch Disrupt event in September. 
    • Deadline: June 26. 
  • WomensNet’s Grants: Offers several grants, including the monthly $10,000 Amber Grant and quarterly Startup Grant. 
    • Deadline: is rolling, while Startup Grants are quarterly. 
  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Top Small Business Awards: Offers a $25,000 cash prize to startups with fewer than 250 employees or less than $20 million in gross revenues. 
    • Deadline: July 7. 
  • LegalZoom's Fast Break for Small Business: Provides $10,000 grants and up to $500 worth of LegalZoom products and services to startups. 
    • Deadline: is during the 2023 WNBA season. 
  • FedEx Small Business Grant Contest: A contest since 2012 that offers startups with fewer than 99 employees and a shipping need for their business a chance to win $30,000. 
    • Deadline for 2024 applications: not yet announced. 
  • NSF America's Seed Fund: Offers startups up to $2 million in non-equity seed funding for high-tech startups to fund early R&D work. 
    • Deadline is rolling. 
  • SoGal's Black Founder Startup Grant: Gives $10,000 and $5,000 cash grants to select Black women or nonbinary entrepreneurs. 
    • Deadline is rolling. 
  • Fresh Start Business Grant: A program that offers entrepreneurs a $2,500 grant to put toward startup and free business formation services. 
    • Deadlines: March 31, June 30, and Sept. 30. 
  • Patagonia Corporate Grant Program: Offers $10,000 to $20,000 to nonprofit startups with a mission to protect the environment. 
    • Deadline is rolling. 
  • Women Founders Network Fast Pitch Competition: Offers tech and non-tech startups $55,000 in cash grants and more than $100,000 in professional services. 
    • Deadline: May 31.
  • eBay Up & Running Grants provide eBay business sellers with grant packages of $10,000, including cash, a $500 eBay Refurbished technology stipend, eBay education, and coaching.
    • Applications are open through June 9, 2023, at 6 p.m. ET.
    • To be eligible, applicants must be a U.S.-based business that is a new or existing eBay seller.
  • The Ignite Fund supports the creation and presentation of experimental, innovative, public-facing, and accessible visual arts-based projects by Chicago-area artists and artist-led collectives. The Ignite Fund provides two types of grants: project grants ($3,000 and $6,000) and research & development grants ($1,500). Individual artists and artist-led collectives (up to 6 people) are eligible to apply for Ignite Fund grants.
    • Application closes May 26, 2023, 11:59pm (CT).
    • Find more information and APPLY HERE!
  • The LGBTQIA+ National Grant provides eligible small businesses the chance to receive one of 25 grant packages totaling $25,000. Founders First is committed to increasing the number of diverse founder-led businesses generating over $1 million dollars in revenues.
  • Own your business property or expand to a new location. If your business is a woman-owned business enterprise (WBE) or a minority-owned business enterprise (MBE), Bank of America invites you to participate in their new Down Payment Program that provides a grant of up to 50% of the required down payment on SBA 7(a) and SBA 504 loans for owner-occupied commercial real estate in Opportunity Zones within your city. The grant itself, which is not to exceed $25,000, does not have to be repaid.
  • HerRise Micro-Grant provides financial assistance, with the help of our corporate sponsors and donors, to women of color creating innovative solutions that impact their community and that are often unable to secure funding for their small businesses. Each month a $500 micro-grant will be awarded to a small business owned by women of color.
    • Small business grants are useful for financing a particular small business need. Past recipients used their growth grants for computers, equipment, marketing materials, software purchase, website creation, and more.
  • Innovations for Healthy Living - Improving Minority Health and Eliminating Health Disparities funding opportunity: Granted by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) as part of the America’s Seed Fund. This opportunity is for eligible SBIR/STTR entities to develop technologies and products that address health disparities while engaging and empowering individuals and communities.
  • Upskilling Initiative - Provides professional development grants to businesses that serve employees aged fifty (50) and older who are currently earning up to $16 an hour. Training funds will be disbursed in $2,000 increments, pending a guaranteed commitment from the employer of a $1.50 or more per hour wage increase respectively after the training is complete.
  • ComED Energy Efficient Program - Foodservice Equipment Rebates (FER) is offering instant discounts up to $4,500 for qualifying energy-efficient foodservice equipment purchases. If you have a commercial kitchen in your facility, FER can upgrade your equipment for less and help reduce your energy bills!
  • Hello Alice Small Business Growth Fund - offers small business owners the opportunity to receive a $5,000 grant to help them make their next big move. To be eligible, a business must have less than $1M in annual revenue, a commitment to diversity and community, and a clear plan to use the grant funds.
  • Amber Grant for Women - WomensNet founded the Amber Grant Foundation in 1998. Every month the foundation awards at least a $10,000 grant and a year-end grant of $25,000. The application is simple and grant recipients are announced the first week of every month. ($15 application fee)

Scholarships, Education, and Services

  • Verizon Small Business Digital Ready is here to give small businesses like yours the personalized tools to succeed in today's digital world. Learning modules, expert coaching, peer networking, and more— FREE!
    • The free learning platform filled with courses, live events, and coaching sessions - has just launched all-new Spanish-language resources. This means you can access courses, events, and mentors in your preferred language, along with a $10k grant opportunity exclusively for Hispanic Business Owners! Register with an account and select Spanish as your preferred language during onboarding to and explore Verizon Small Business Digital Ready in Spanish.
  • Ascent is a free learning platform from the U.S. Small Business Administration for women-owned businesses. They recently added two new courses: Partnerships Journey and Entrepreneurial Leadership Journey. For more information click HERE.


  • Advantage Illinois (AI) Loan Participation program provides low-interest loans to small businesses by partnering with local lenders located across the state. In 2022 as of December, 71 percent of AI loans have gone to businesses owned by people of color, women, people with disabilities or veterans.
  • Kiva - Offers micro-loans between $1,000-$15,000, with no interest! Whether you’re in the idea phase, start-up mode, or an established business, you can apply for this crowd-funding loan. Kiva repayment terms are anywhere from 6 months to 3 years, and repayments are made monthly. Kiva does not grant loans based on credit scores or history.
  • Founders First Capital Partners - provides revenue-based funding and business acceleration advisory support to small businesses. It offers revenue-based financing, which allows for smaller payments during slower revenue months, and larger payments in stronger months.
  • Allies for Community Business offers loans between $500 and $100,000 to early, emerging, and established businesses at a 9% interest rate.

Business Resources

Business Recovery Payment Plan Program - Chicago Department of Finance
The Department of Finance is offering payment plans to eligible license holders for as little as $25 down with terms up to 60 months. The deadline to enter into a payment plan is June 30, 2023 for most debt types. Eligible licensees should call the Business Contact Center at 312-747-4747 to get started. Representatives are available Monday through Friday, from 8:00am to 5:00pm.
A license holder with multiple debt types may enroll in a payment plan for each.

Learn more at


Looking to Hire?

RefugeeOne’s employment program can connect you to a large pool of fully-authorized job seekers with diverse skills, backgrounds and language abilities. They provide support through interviews, onboarding, and acculturation at no charge to you.  Post your job listing at or email for more details.


On-Demand Staffing for Hospitality

Qwick is an on-demand staffing platform that connects service industry Professionals with food and beverage shifts in real-time. Learn more at


Albany Park & Irving Park Special Service Area (SSA #60) Resources

The Albany Park & Irving Park Special Service Area (SSA #60) is an effective, locally-managed, resource to support small business growth and improve our neighborhood business corridors. SSA #60’s volunteer Commission and community members collaborate together to help provide funds to many business district improvements, such as creating public art murals and installations, installation and maintenance of bike parking, garbage receptacles, planters, trees, and benches, beautification of storefronts, litter and snow removal, and marketing and special events to bring local residents and visitors to our area. North River Commission is the sole service provider for SSA #60.

SSA #60 boundaries include:

  • Lawrence Ave, Chicago River to Pulaski Rd
  • Montrose Ave, Chicago River to Central Park Ave
  • Irving Park Rd, California Ave to Central Park Ave
  • Kedzie Ave, Irving Park Rd to Ainslie St
  • Kimball Ave, Lawrence Ave to Leland Ave

The SSA #60 offers the following resources to small businesses:

To apply for these programs or if you have any other questions, please contact Sierra Berquist at 312-860-7884 or

Does your business need a bike rack?

Let the Department of Transportation (CDOT) know ! Submit your bike rack request to

The City installs roughly 500 bike racks on city sidewalks each year and they need YOUR FEEDBACK.

CDOT will review your request in the field looking for sites on the public right-of-way that don’t interfere with pedestrian travel and are clear of other street furniture. Their criteria for new rack placement is listed at

If you are interested in high-capacity, on-street bike parking for your organization or business, visit to learn more about CDOT’s bike corral program.