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The Untapped Minority Grant Market

Every year the federal government makes available to minorities millions of dollars in grant money. As grant checks have no required repayment or interest terms, the funds can provide minority-owned businesses or organizations with much needed start-up funds or the opportunity to expand operations. An individual can use this minority grant money to attend school, start an at-home business or purchase their first home.

The federal government views African Americans, Native Americans, individuals with disabilities, Asian Americans and Hispanic Americans as minorities. Depending on the type of grant, women might also be viewed as a minority. Potential funding can range from thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The typical grant application cycle lasts from six months to a year. The two restrictions placed on awarded funds is that they cannot be used to acquire services or property for the federal government and that awardees must provide regular reports detailing the fund usage.

Despite their availability, however, the majority of these funds are not pursued. Although there is no limit to the number of applications a minority can file in a given period, the complexity and competition for these grants deters many minorities from applying. In reality, the amount of applicants a specific minority grant receives is quite low, which substantially increases the chances that applicants may become recipients of the award. The minority grant market, therefore, is actually quite good.

Applying for a government grant is an extremely complex process. Required forms and documentation must be in perfect order for the application to even be reviewable, and many times the process requires tours of the office or interviews with the potential grantee. While the government operates a website to assist applicants, the site does nothing to streamline the process.

Getting a grant is quite simply a matter of precisely following the application instructions. In an application, writing “see above” or “refer to first paragraph” can result in its automatic denial. Leaving a question blank is also a death sentence.

There are four tips for increasing the chances that your application will be chosen: 1) fully complete every question on the application; 2) attach all necessary documents; 3) comply quickly and thoroughly with any additional information requests from the granting authority; and, 4) periodically check the status of your grant.