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Backing Small Businesses Grant Program

Backing Small Businesses

Supporting economically vulnerable business owners

In 2021, American Express and Main Street America created the Backing Small Businesses* grant program to help economically vulnerable small business owners recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and grow their businesses. In its first year, the program provided $1.65 million in grants to more than 300 small business owners across the country.

Now in its second year, the program will increase the number of grants awarded and total funding to more than $2.3 million to further support small business owners in building their economic vitality and fostering a thriving community. On March 20, 2023, applications will open for 350 small business grants of $5,000 to eligible businesses in the U.S. and territories.

What types of businesses are eligible?

Businesses must meet the following criteria to apply:

  • The applicant must be an owner of the business.
  • The applicant must be at least age 18 years or older.
  • The business must be at least 51% owned, operated, and controlled by small business owners who identify as:
    • Asian American and/or Pacific Islander
    • Black and/or African American
    • Hispanic and/or Latinx
    • Immigrants, Refugees, and/or Forcibly Displaced
    • Members of the LGBTQIA+ Community
    • Middle Eastern and/or North African
    • Native and/or Indigenous
    • People with Disabilities
    • Veterans
    • Women
  • The business is in a "brick-and-mortar" location and operate in an older or historic main street, downtown, or commercial district in the United States. (Home-based businesses, even those located in historic neighborhoods, are not eligible. Brick-and-mortar businesses located outside of historic downtowns and commercial corridors, including, but not limited to, office parks and shopping malls are also not eligible.)
  • The business is an independent business and not part of a franchise.
  • The business must employ less than 20 full-time employees.
  • The business has been in operation since January 1, 2022.
  • The business must be a business entity in good standing in the state in which it was formed and the state in which it does business.
  • The business has an active business license in the state where you do business.

Program Timeline

  • Applications Open on March 20, 2023
  • Applications Close on April 7, 2023
  • $5,000 Grant Recipients Notified in June 2023
  • Grant Reports Due by September 15, 2023
  • $25,000 Enhancement Grants Announced in October 2023


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