On Monday, September 14, Prosper Portland launched the latest round of relief grants for small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In July, Portland City Council allocated $15 million in federal funds to Prosper Portland to distribute to small business via the Small Business Relief Fund and block grants to community nonprofits.
Up to $12 million will be disbursed as Small Business Relief Fund grants through selected Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) partners. All have existing grant infrastructure in place and extensive experience working with local small businesses.
The grants will range from $10,000 to $25,000. The application window will be open from Monday, September 14 at 9:00 a.m. until Friday, September 25 at 5:00 p.m.
An additional $3 million will be allocated as block grants to community partners that can reach culturally specific populations and ensure the broadest reach of the funds to vulnerable communities. The block grant process will begin later this fall.
Both block grant disbursement partners and the Small Business Relief Fund CFDI partners will receive an administrative fee to support their capacity to deliver this work.
“Small businesses are the backbone of Portland’s economy, and we’ve seen and heard first-hand the challenges that small business owners across the city are facing,” Mayor Ted Wheeler said. “That’s why City Council prioritized small business support as a critical element of the CARES funding package. These grants will help some of the most vulnerable businesses in our community, and we must all continue to do what we can to support Portland’s unique and vibrant small business culture.”
Kimberly Branam, Prosper Portland executive director, said, “Over the past several months, we’ve worked closely with business, community and government to provide economic relief and household stability to Portlanders. We’ll continue to collaborate with responsiveness and creativity to make sure we get these funds to those who need them in a timely, equitable and impactful manner.”
Distribution is guided by the city’s Equity Toolkit and the knowledge that Black people, Indigenous people and all people of color have experienced the greatest impacts from the pandemic and need the most support. The grant funds will serve applicants across multiple demographic categories; all small businesses that meet the eligibility requirements will be considered.
This round of funds has been informed by engagement and feedback from the Economic Recovery Task Force, the Council for Economic and Racial Equity, the Community Chamber Coalition of Oregon, City Council staff, the Inclusive Business Resource Network, the Neighborhood Prosperity Network, and cultural and industry-specific listening sessions.
The federally funded Small Business Relief Fund grants will prioritize:
- Organizations that have experienced a decline in revenue as a result of COVID-19
- Organizations owned by Black, Indigenous, Asian Pacific Islander and all People of Color and/or women (or eligible nonprofits primarily serving these communities)
- Organizations for which resources will help them remain operational
- Organizations that did not receive enough federal funds
- Childcare-focused organizations (businesses as well as non-profits)
- Use of funds focused on helping operations shift, pivot, or adapt to the new COVID-19 environment
The selection process will involve a committee comprising representatives from the Council for Economic and Racial Equity, Oregon Native American Chamber, Black American Chamber, Hispanic Metropolitan Chamber, and the Philippine American Chamber, as well as individuals from the business community and City Council staff. This group is instrumental in the continued focus on equity in providing small business relief during the public health and economic crisis.
Applications, program details and FAQs are available in English, Spanish, Russian, Vietnamese and simplified Chinese. Learn more and apply here.