A grant making initiative

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


Congratulations to our 2023 Enhancement Grant Recipients

Fourteen Coalition to Back Black Businesses grantees have been selected by a panel of judges to receive $25,000 to further solidify their resilience and long-term success and help strengthen the communities that these businesses serve. These grantees represent the most promising and innovative small businesses from the 2022-23 cohort. Since inception, the Coalition has distributed grants to more than 1,400 small businesses, while also offering mentoring and additional resources to help small businesses scale and thrive.

How it Works



Check to make sure your business is eligible.
View Requirements



Express interest in receiving a grant by registering (available during registration period).



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



We’ll take care of this step! Your full application will be under review.



Grantees will be notified with instructions on how to join the coaching platform and receive their $5,000 grant.

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.


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

The COVID-19 pandemic brought unprecedented challenges for small businesses.

The Coalition to Back Black Businesses (CBBB) is a multi-year initiative to support small businesses as a means of assisting 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 vibrancy of their communities.

The CBBB was established in September 2020 by American Express, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, the National Black Chamber of Commerce, National Business League, U.S. Black Chambers, Inc., and Walker’s Legacy. These partners have worked together to provide over $14 million in grants, mentoring/coaching, and resources to empower small businesses in economically distressed communities.

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

Small businesses across America are struggling to keep their dreams alive, and Black small business owners 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.


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 also involves 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 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. A select number of 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

Meet the Partners

The 2022-2023 Coalition to Back Black Businesses grant program is made possible by our Founding Partner American Express, with funding from Cummins, Optimum, and programmatic support from Firefli; in collaboration with the National Black Chamber of Commerce, The National Business League, U.S. Black Chambers, Inc., and Walker’s Legacy.

Firefli, a Washington, D.C. Marketing Agency

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.


The Coalition to Back Black Businesses is proud to share its second impact report, with important stats and data covering our newest cohort of grantees. Check out the report here, and our press release announcing this year’s impact here.

The Coalition to Back Black Businesses is proud to announce its partnership with Shopify to support the long-term growth of Black-owned small businesses and expand our scale. Shopify is offering training and resources to empower all Black-owned small businesses to succeed, including:
•  An exclusive 120-day free Shopify trial to start, grow and manage your business online.
•  Access to Shopify’s Build Black community to connect with black entrepreneurs.
•  1:1 coaching/mentoring opportunities through Operation HOPE.
To learn more, visit their site here.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Coalition to Back Black Businesses is a multi-year grantmaking and mentoring initiative to help support Black small-business owners as they recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and chart a path forward. The initiative launched in Fall 2020 and provides grants to qualifying Black-owned small businesses through 2024.

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-NEC) 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.

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;
  • 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, other Coalition funders, 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;
  • Previous recipients of a Coalition to Back Black Businesses grant

Eligible business owners can express their interest by registering on this site during the registration period (see “How it Works” above). Registered business owners will be randomly selected as finalists to complete an application to be considered. The number of grants may fluctuate each year based on available funding.

To express your interest and register to apply for a grant, you will only need your business contact information, owner contact email, 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, among other brief questions. 

Finalists for the grant will be notified at the contact information provided in the registration form. 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.

Business owners that have registered to express their interest in applying for the $5,000 grant will be randomly selected as finalists. Finalists will then 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.

Finalist applications will be reviewed to determine if they are complete and meet all eligibility requirements. All registrants and finalists will be notified of their status by the end of October.

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 spring 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 enhancement grant application
  • Completion of the post-grant survey 
  • Supporting recommendations from mentors
  • Long-term viability of the business

The $5,000 grants will be awarded within four weeks after finalists have attended the program orientation. After four weeks in the program, grantees will be given instructions on how to process their grant payment. All payments are expected to be cleared within one month.

After funding is disbursed, we will invite each of the grantees to participate in a business coaching and mentorship platform to help further grow their business. Grantees must register for it to process their grant payment. While participation in the platform is voluntary after the grant payment, 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 previously been selected to receive a grant can register again to apply.

The grant program has made possible by the generosity of our Founding Partner, American Express; along with current support from Cummins and Optimum.

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.

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.