If you’re considered a felon, you may be accustomed to hearing that the opportunities other people have access to are simply not available for you, but when it comes to grants for felons, things are quite a bit different.
What is a grant?
Essentially, a grant is a financial support system provided by the federal government, given to private or public organizations, to help them carry out a specific task. In other words, it is a form of loan that may or may not need to be repaid, depending on the situation.
Who could benefit from a grant?
While the federal government is the predominant provider of grants, states also have grants that they can offer to their residents. Anyone or organization that operates within the specific boundaries of either the state or a particular country could benefit from a grant.
Grants are provided to researchers, college graduates, professors, small businesses, nonprofit organizations, and individual citizens who are seeking to start their own small business. These grants offer this wide range of people an opportunity to build their organization up, gather enough information through research, or develop prototype products, services, or other items that may benefit someone else.
There are specific grants that are set aside for people of certain ethnic backgrounds, nationalities, gender, and much more. There are also government grants that are provided to farms, energy companies, and much more.
What about grants for convicted felons?
When you’re talking about getting money from the federal government, it would seem as though grants for convicted felons would not be provided. After all, many felony convictions the majority of states result in the loss of certain civil rights. The most common civil right that a person loses when they are convicted of a felony is the right to keep and bear arms, protected by the Second Amendment.
14 states revoke the right to vote for felons. 28 states make it so that a convicted felon can no longer serve in public office.
A person with a felony conviction on their record may also struggle to find employment opportunities that many within the general population have easy access to. There are many different companies that won’t even consider an applicant who has a felony record.
There are no laws that force companies to hire anyone with a felony conviction on the record, though that may change in the future. It also becomes extremely difficult for convicted felons to find adequate housing, often because apartment management companies and independent landlords don’t want to have any issues with their renters and a person with a felony conviction, it is believed, could cause some serious problems.
As a result, many ex-convicts don’t even consider the possibility of pursuing a grant for any reason.
The benefit of federal grants for felons.
There are numerous benefits that an ex-convict can take advantage of, just as anyone else, when it comes to grants. One of the most significant is to be able to start their own business. When a person serves time, they have an opportunity to gain an education, learn valuable skills, and even pursue certain entrepreneurial endeavors while they are serving their sentence.
They may have an idea that could benefit their community, society as a whole, or a particular target market with regard to a product or service they may offer. Getting a business off the ground may require a significant amount of money, especially if it is considered a ‘brick-and-mortar’ business. A brick-and-mortar business is one wherein the owner will need a physical presence, or store or office building, where customers, clients, and/or employees would come.
For an online-only business, developing a website and getting marketing established can cost several thousand dollars, at a minimum. That can be prohibitive to many ex-convicts who may not have any real income once they are released from prison.
Obtaining a small business loan or a grant through either a state or federal government is possible, even for ex-felons. It may be much more difficult for an ex-felon to be granted financial assistance through one of these grants, but it is not impossible. There are many factors that go into determining eligibility for a grant.
What are some things to consider when applying for a grant?
The most important thing for an ex-felon when applying for a grant is to establish the fact that he or she has completely turned their life around. The people who review applications for various grants want to see somebody being responsible and that the financial assistance will go toward what it is intended for in the first place.
Another important factor is a solid business plan. A business plan essentially lays out the foundation for the business, including its goals, projected earnings, growth in the future, target market, and more. The more detailed a business plan is, the easier it is for a person to potentially be given grant money.
What type of grants are available?
As mentioned, grants are available at the state and federal government levels. Below are number of grants that are available through the federal government that can benefit anyone, including felons.
This grant can help manufacturers and small service firms that are impacted by import competition.
Provides business development services to Native American businesses seeking to establish, expand, or build on an existing business.
Intended to encourage an increase in lending, investment, and service activities to economically distressed communities.
Helps Native communities overcome certain barriers to financial services.
Is intended to assist low income communities who have limited access to affordable financial products and services.
This grant is intended to provide capital to qualified community banks and development programs to encourage small business lending.
This grant is intended to provide assistance to financial lenders on higher risk loans.
Promoting and assessing energy and mineral resources that exist on Native American lands.
Helping native Americans and tribal firms gain access to better business opportunities.
Provides financial support and training to small businesses to compete for eligible transportation projects.
Enables small businesses to gain financing, up to $750,000, to compete in transportation related contracts.
Provides a guarantee on working capital loans for small and medium-size businesses for export funding needs.
Provides financial support for long-term financing for the cost of building new fishing vessels, shoreline facilities, and aqua cultural facilities.
Helps to provide assistance in training programs for third-party public or private organizations and eligible small businesses.
This program helps to fund the start, acquisition, or expansion of small businesses. In order to apply for this particular type of grant, a borrower would need to begin the process through a participating lender institution.
Below is a list of numerous other grants, and this should give anyone an idea about just how many grants there are available. This list is only limited to the federal government. Each state has numerous different grant programs available for their residents.
Anyone interested in determining whether there is a grant available for their specific small business purpose or some other reason, whether they have a felony conviction on the record or not, can contact their Small Business Administration or other corresponding government agency in the state in which they live.
Keep in mind that there are grants for women only, African-American only, to provide opportunities for people to gain an advanced degree in a university system, and for many, many more opportunities. When it comes to grants, the sky is almost truly the limit.
There are many different federal grants for ex-felons that can number in the thousands.
Other grants that may help ex-felons and others: