A grant making initiative

to provide immediate financial assistance and long-term support for America’s Black-owned small businesses

The coronavirus pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges for small businesses, and the Black community has been hit especially hard.

The Coalition to Back Black Businesses is a multi-year initiative to support Black small business owners and the communities they serve as they recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and chart a path forward. Small businesses are critical parts of communities – the strength of these businesses is essential to the recovery of their communities.

Through the Coalition, American Express, the National Black Chamber of Commerce, National Business League, U.S. Black Chambers, Inc., Walker’s Legacy, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, will work together over the next four years to provide $10 million in grants, training, and resources to empower Black-owned small businesses in distressed communities that have long been struggling with economic growth.

From 2020 through 2023, we will distribute $5,000 grants to more than 280 applicants each fall. We hope these grants can provide some assistance to the Black-owned business community to emerge from this crisis stronger than ever. We know the need for assistance is great, and we wish we could help everyone who needs it.

16 September Update: We are proud to announce that in addition to our Founding Partner, American Express, Altice USA has joined the Coalition to Back Black Businesses!Altice Logo Sq

How it Works

1

CHECK ELIGIBILITY

Check to make sure your business is eligible
View Requirements

2

EXPRESS INTEREST
Sept. 15 – Sept. 21, 2020

Express interest in receiving a grant by submitting the form below

3

APPLICATION PERIOD
Sept. 22 – Sept. 28, 2020

If eligible for grant, randomly-selected finalists will be asked to complete a full grant application

4

APPLICATION REVIEW PERIOD
Sept. 28 – Oct. 9, 2020

Grant applications under review

5

GRANTS AWARDED
Rolling, beginning Oct. 6, 2020

280 grantees will be notified with instructions on how to receive their $5,000 grant payment

To express your interest, you will only need to complete our streamlined application form below before 11:59 PM EDT on September 21, 2020.

After September 21, each applicant will be computer-assigned a random number, and 280 businesses will be selected as finalists. Additional applicants may be chosen for the waitlist.

Finalists will receive a more comprehensive online application form that will require your business’s W-9 form, Employee Identification Number (EIN), and other basic supporting information, including qualitative questions about your business. You will have one week to submit the finalist application from when it is received.

Eligible businesses must:

– Meet the criteria for being a Black-owned enterprise in a qualifying industry (See details below in “Who is eligible to apply?”).
– Employ between 3 and 20 people, including the owner and any full-time employees, part-time employees, or individuals working under a 1099 or similar contractual agreement.
– Be located in an economically vulnerable community, according to the Distressed Communities Index.
– Have been harmed financially by the COVID-19 pandemic.

See if your business qualifies

Enter the zip code associated with your business (as listed on your W9 Form) to see if you're eligible.

EXPRESS YOUR INTEREST

We are no longer accepting applications for this year’s Coalition to Back Black Business grant cohort. We will be in touch soon with updates.

We See You. We Hear You. We are With You.

Small businesses across America are struggling to keep their dreams alive, and Black-owned small businesses have been hit especially hard. Black business owners are more likely to report difficulty obtaining loans, express fears about permanently closing, and predict declining revenues in the coming year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Coalition to Back Black Businesses is a collective effort to drive meaningful change within the Black business community by delivering much-needed short-term relief and supporting the long-term success of Black-owned small businesses and the communities they serve.

BUILDING FOR THE FUTURE

The $5,000 grants are only the start of the Coalition to Back Black Businesses’ efforts to support Black-owned small businesses. The grant program will involve three additional steps to invest in the long-term success and resilience of the Black small business community.

  • Mentorship. Each grantee will receive exclusive access to a mentorship program, conducted in partnership with MicroMentor, to help grow their business with advice and guidance from industry- or subject-specific mentors.
  • Enhancement Grants. Each summer following the distribution of the $5,000 grants, we will offer competitive $25,000 enhancement grants to those most promising grantees. Five percent of the grantees in each annual cohort will receive these funds to help take their business to the next level.
  • Online Resources. This website will serve as a central hub featuring resources for all Black-owned small businesses. By working with our extensive network of partners, we will collect a strong library of programs and educational materials to help the Black small business community in their recovery and growth.

Hear from our Partners

Frequently Asked Questions

The Coalition to Back Black Businesses is a multi-year grantmaking and training initiative to help support Black-owned small businesses as they recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and chart a path forward. The initiative will launch in Fall 2020 and provide grants to qualifying Black-owned small businesses over the next four years.

To apply, you must be an owner of a Black-owned small business (51% or more ownership of the business). You must have between 3-20 employees (including yourself, all full or part-time employees, and independent (1099) contractors). The business must also not be part of a franchise brand with more than twenty-five (25) corporate-owned stores, or more than two hundred and fifty (250) stores total.  

The business must be located in an economically vulnerable community. This is defined as any zip code not in the top 20% of zip codes in the United States, as ranked by the Distressed Communities Index. An eligibility checker is available on this website.

There are a few industries and business types that are not eligible to receive grants:

  • Any government agency, public administration, political organization, or non-profit of any type;
  • Businesses engaged in any illegal activity;
  • Gas stations, or businesses located on the same premises as a gas station;
  • Shopping property management companies;
  • Direct sellers;
  • Travel agencies;
  • Any business that is primarily in the business of manufacturing, promoting or selling diet aids, cannabis, gambling, tobacco (including tobacco-related equipment, such as e-cigarettes), firearms or other weapons;
  • Private clubs and businesses which limit the number of memberships for reasons other than capacity;
  • Businesses principally engaged in teaching, instructing, counseling or indoctrinating religion or religious beliefs, whether in a religious or secular setting;
  • Businesses which derive directly or indirectly more than de minimis gross revenue through the sale of products or services, or the presentation of any depictions or displays, of a sexual nature;
  • Businesses owned by employees, officers and directors of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, American Express, National Partners (National Black Chamber of Commerce, National Business League, Walker’s Legacy, U.S. Black Chambers, Inc.), and any affiliated entities, and their respective immediate families (parents, spouse, children, siblings) or individuals residing in their household (whether or not related) 
  • Entities listed on the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Sanctions List.

Eligible business owners can express their interest on this site from September 15, 2020 to September 21, 2020. Two hundred and eighty business owners will be randomly selected as finalists to complete an application to be considered. The number of grants may fluctuate slightly each year based on available funding.

To express your interest, you will only need your business name, mobile number, owner contact email, business zip code, and industry. You will also be asked if the business is women-owned and affiliated with any of the four national partners, and how it has been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. This should take under one minute to complete. When you submit that information does not affect your chances at being selected as a finalist, as long as it is completed before 11:59PM EDT on September 21, 2020 when the collection form will be removed.

If selected as a finalist, that application will take about 20 minutes to complete and will require your business’s W-9 form, Employee Identification Number (EIN), and other basic supporting information, including qualitative questions about your business. You will have one week to complete the finalist application once notified of your finalist status.

The Distressed Communities Index is an established measure of the economic well-being of U.S. communities, developed by the Economic Innovation Group, and looks at a variety of economic measures including household economics, educational attainment, job and business growth. Just as some businesses face higher risks than others, some communities are more vulnerable. This grant program is dedicated to helping Black-owned small businesses in the communities that need that help the most.

Each fall, we will distribute $5,000 grants. The grants are unrestricted but must be applied toward business expenses.

Following each round of awards, grantees will have the option to compete for $25,000 enhancement grants based on additional criteria as outlined below.

After September 21, 2020, each business that expressed their interest will be computer-assigned a random number and put in ascending order. Two hundred and eighty businesses will be selected as finalists and notified within two weeks. Additional applicants may be chosen for the waitlist and elevated to finalist if any of the initial finalists are deemed ineligible; they would be notified of their finalist status within three additional weeks.

Finalists will then have one week to complete a longer application that will be checked for grant eligibility and completion. Special consideration will be given to women-owned businesses, which will make up at least 25% of the awarded grants.

Each finalist that submits a complete application that meets all eligibility requirements will be notified of the grant award decisions within two weeks of completing the finalist application.

The Coalition to Back Black Businesses is dedicated to supporting the long-term success of Black-owned small businesses and the communities they serve. That’s why a select group of grantees will be eligible for $25,000 enhancement grants to help take their business to the next level.

Each successful grantee (a finalist who accepts the $5,000 grant) will be eligible to compete for one of the $25,000 enhancement grants in the summer following the receipt of their $5,000 grant. Grantees must opt-in to be considered, and a panel of judges from the national partners will evaluate the businesses based on the following criteria:

  • The quality of responses provided in the finalist grant application
  • Additional information from the post-grant survey 
  • Supporting recommendations from mentors
  • Long-term viability of the business
The $5,000 grants will be awarded within two weeks after finalists are notified of the outcome of their completed finalist application review. Once the grantee has been notified and submitted payment information that meets compliance checks, it will take an additional 6-8 business days to process the payment and receive funds.

After funding is disbursed, we will invite each of the grantees to participate in a mentorship program to help further grow their business. While participation in the mentorship program is voluntary, it is required to be considered for an enhancement grant. In addition, the Coalition to Back Black Businesses will continue to offer educational resources for small business owners on its online platforms.

Yes. Businesses that have not been selected to receive a grant can submit an application in following years.

The grant program is made possible by the generosity of our Founding Partner, American Express.

The grant program is administered by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, in partnership with U.S. Black Chambers, Inc., National Business League, National Black Chamber of Commerce, and Walker’s Legacy. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation is a private sector 501(c)(3) charity affiliated with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and is not a government agency.

We look forward to speaking with you. Please send a note to foundation@uschamber.com to ask about joining the Coalition to Back Black Businesses.

Meet the Partners

The Coalition to Back Black Businesses is made possible by American Express.

The National Black Chamber of Commerce® is dedicated to economically empowering and sustaining African American communities through entrepreneurship and capitalistic activity within the United States and via interaction with the Black Diaspora.

The National Black Chamber of Commerce® was incorporated in Washington, D.C. in March 1993. 140 affiliated chapters are locally based throughout the nation as well as international affiliate chapters based in Bahamas, Brazil, Colombia, Ghana, Kenya, France, Botswana, Cameroon and Jamaica and businesses as well as individuals who may have chosen to be direct members with the national office.

The National Business League is the first and largest nonprofit, non-partisan, and non-sectarian, Black business professional and trade association, founded August 23, 1900 by the iconic Booker T. Washington. The NBL has more than 120,000 members nationwide, with 4 regional offices in Atlanta, GA, Detroit, MI, Los Angeles, CA, and Washington, DC, and more than 360 local league chapters across the country. The organizations provide access to 2.6 million Black businesses throughout the United States, celebrating 120 years of service.

The U.S. Black Chambers, Inc.’s (USBC) mission is to provide committed, visionary leadership and advocacy in the realization of economic empowerment. Through the creation of resources and initiatives, USBC supports African American Chambers of Commerce and business organizations in their work of developing and growing Black enterprises.

USBC represents 145 chambers in 42 states and 332,000 members, strategic partners, and small business associations nationwide whose involvement increases our capacity to serve. 

Walker’s Legacy is the largest global platform for the professional and entrepreneurial multicultural woman. We exist to inspire, equip, and engage through thought-provoking content, educational programming, and a global community. Walker’s Legacy produces conferences, summits, masterclasses, entrepreneurship accelerators and programming to promote business and career advancement, skill sets, and networks of multicultural women in business and women entrepreneurs. For more information please visit www.walkerslegacy.com.

Resources

Businesses owned by black women have experienced unprecedented growth over the past two decades. This research, based on national data and a series of interviews with black women business owners, presents a summary of business owners’ motivation, challenges, support, and financial trends.

Every year, the National Committee on Pay Equity sets a date for “Equal Pay Day” to highlight the overall pay disparity between men and women who work full-time in the United States. This research shines a light on the wage gaps for Black women in the United States. 

The U.S. Black Chamber’s platform powered by data and a national network of Black chambers.  

USBC has created resources to help Black entrepreneurs navigate funding opportunities, educational webinars, and legislative updates on PPP and policies unique to business owners. 

Through the Equality of Opportunity Initiative, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is developing and advancing data-driven business and policy solutions to bridge opportunity gaps and ensure that Black Americans and people of color have greater opportunities to succeed.

Small business owners across America are fighting to keep their workers employed and their dreams alive. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Save Small Business Initiative is committed to mobilizing and maximizing the impact of the nation’s response.

Visit ShopSmall.com to access free turnkey marketing tools, expert insights and advice, and special savings on curated solutions to help you market your business and other resources to assist with reopening.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation is a private sector 501(c)(3) charity affiliated under the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and is not a government agency. To learn more, please visit www.uschamberfoundation.org.