Catalyst Micro-Grants $2,500 - Round 3

This round of micro-grants is in partnership with the Rogers Slater Foundation, Truist Foundation, and other funders. The deadline to apply is February 16, 2024.

Please note: We are aiming to support 20 founders through this grant and will be working closely with the founders, advisory council, and others to refine and expand the program. Specific terms and details are subject to change.

New Year, New Horizons: Empowering Entrepreneurs for a Prosperous Tomorrow

As we step into a new year, it’s time to embrace fresh starts and bold visions. Mountain BizWorks, in partnership with the Rogers Slater Foundation, Truist Foundation, and other funders, is thrilled to announce the “New Year, New Horizons” round of micro-grant funding. This round of funding is dedicated to fueling the aspirations of creators, small business owners, and aspiring entrepreneurs, especially those who have faced challenges in realizing their dreams.

In this round, we are offering 20 grants, each amounting to $2,500, to startups and emerging businesses owned by people of color across Western North Carolina. These grants are designed to infuse your business with the capital it needs to start, grow, and break through barriers. We believe in the power of new beginnings and are committed to supporting the entrepreneurial spirit that drives our community forward.

This year, we are looking for ideas that not only have high growth potential but also envision a future of innovation, sustainability, and community impact.

How will your business idea contribute to a brighter and more prosperous tomorrow? Share with us how a grant of $2,500 will help you turn your visionary idea into a reality.

Micro-Grant Purpose 

The Catalyst Micro-Grants are designed to be an investment into small businesses owned by historically underestimated entrepreneurs across WNC. Every person, no matter where they are from, deserves the chance to get ahead. That means we need to make it easier – not harder – for small businesses to succeed, and especially those led by people of color and immigrants. 

Catalyst Program 

The Catalyst Program precipitates fundamental changes in traditional lending practices to accelerate business growth for entrepreneurs of color by building on great ideas. This program includes the Catalyst Fund, Cohorts, and Micro-Grants. With an understanding of each founder’s strengths, successes, and goals, Mountain BizWorks provides access to the tools needed to take the next big leap.

Mountain BizWorks is working to ensure that more underestimated entrepreneurs who often lack access to flexible, affordable capital, have access to the training, tools, and skills they need to successfully run their businesses. 

This program is designed to increase equity within the startup and growth funding landscape for entrepreneurs of color with the hopes of encouraging them to enter into industries that have higher rates of growth and success. 

How to Apply 

To apply for the “New Year, New Horizons” grant, simply fill out the online application and submit a 60-second video. In this video, express how a $2,500 grant will help you turn your visionary idea into a reality. Please note, your application is incomplete without this video, which is crucial in showcasing your vision and the potential impact of your business.

Applications are being accepted in “rounds”. You must submit a new application for each round in order to be considered for funding in that round.

Email Tiarra Wilkie, Mountain BizWorks’ Catalyst Program Manager, at tiarra@mountainbizworks.org with any issues related to your application.

Applications without a video will not be reviewed. 


To be eligible, an applicant must meet the following requirements:

  • Business Ownership: The business should be at least 50% owned by individuals from historically underrepresented groups in business. 
  • Business Location and Operation: The business must be a for-profit entity, located within Western North Carolina. We are looking to support businesses that contribute to the local economy and community.
  • Business Stage and Revenue: We welcome applications from a wide spectrum of business stages – from those in the ideation phase to early-stage startups, as well as existing businesses. To qualify, your business should have annual gross revenues of less than $150,000. 
  • Local Impact: Your business should be independently owned and operated.  Applicants should be able to demonstrate both the need for funding and how the grant will catalyze their growth and community contribution.

Non-profit organizations are ineligible for this particular funding program. 

Awards will be made to qualified businesses, and eligibility is based on accurate and complete submission. 

Applicants may apply for one business only and must be 18 years of age to apply. For business owners with multiple businesses, please complete this application for a single one of your businesses. Each grant is limited to one individual/business. 

Use of Proceeds 

The grant funds may only be used for qualified business expenses. 

The Grantee shall fully comply with all applicable federal, state, local (and any other governmental) laws, executive orders, rules, and regulations in connection with its use of grant funds.

Deadline to Apply

The online application will be opened on January 16, 2024 and run until February 16, 2024. Applications must be completed and submitted no later than 11:59 PM on Friday, February 16. Applications submitted after the deadline or that are incomplete (i.e. missing required information) will not be considered. Selections will be made and notifications sent out to grantees by March 18, 2024. Important Dates: 

  • Application Window Opens:  January 16, 2024.
  • Application Window Closes:  February 16, 2024.
  • Grant Awardee Notifications Sent Out:  March 18, 2024.

If you are selected as a grantee, you will hear from Mountain BizWorks via email by the following date listed below:

  • Round 3 – Selections will be made and notifications sent out by  March 18, 2024.

Review Process 

The Catalyst Fund Advisory Council, in conjunction with Mountain BizWorks staff, will function as the Selection Committee and will review applications submitted. Grants will be awarded at the sole discretion of the Selection Committee based on the responses provided in the application and any other factors the Selection Committee deems to be relevant. The Selection Committee may, but is not required to, provide a reason for the denial of an application or for the determination of the amount of the grant award. 

Submitting an application is not a guarantee of a grant award and Mountain BizWorks may terminate the program at any time, for any reason, or when available funds are depleted. 

Incomplete applications will not be considered.

Frequency of Awards 

Program is subject to the availability of funds. Grants will be reviewed individually for each round of funding, with a goal to hold at least one round of funding per year.  We’re working to expand the available pool so that we can assist as many small businesses in our community as possible.


Agree to report at 12 months: The applicant will be required to provide a brief report that describes the financial conditions of the business, how the grant was used and the number of people impacted 12 months following the receipt of funds.

Agree to Award Announcement: Applicant understands and agrees that all grantee business names and grant amounts will be publicly announced. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

What is the size of the awards? 

Grants will be awarded in the amount of $2,500.

How many awards will be made?

In this round, we are offering 20 grants, each amounting to $2,500. 

What are considered qualified business expenses?

Qualified business expenses relate to those items that you can deduct from your income tax to lower your tax burden. Please refer to the IRS website for more information.

How do I upload a video to YouTube or Vimeo? 

The following link provides instructions and a video for uploading to YouTube: https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/57407?co=GENIE.Platform%3DDesktop&hl=en

The following link provides instructions for uploading to Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/upload

Can I change my application after it’s been submitted?

No, you can not change a submitted application. However, you may resubmit a new application and we will consider the latest application submitted.  (Note: you can only submit the application via the online form.)

Do grant applicants receive a confirmation that they submitted their application?

Every applicant receives a confirmation screen that follows if all fields are filled out correctly and after hitting “Submit”. Applicants will also receive a copy of their submitted answers, emailed to the address provided in their application.

If I applied in a previous round, do I have to apply again or will my application roll-over?

Yes. Applications do not roll over to later rounds. You must submit a new application for each round of grants in order to be considered for funding that round. Each round has unique aspects and may have distinct funder requirements.

When will the online application portal close for submission?

Applications are being accepted in “rounds”.  A round is open for three weeks and then closed.  Dates for each round are posted on this page of the Mountain BizWorks website.

  • Round 1 – Selections will be made and notifications sent out by May 31, 2021. – CLOSED
  • Round 2 – Selections will be made and notifications sent out by September 1, 2022. – CLOSED
  • Round 3 – Selections will be made and notifications sent out by  March 18, 2024. – OPEN – CURRENT ROUND

How will I be contacted or know if I will receive a grant?

Mountain BizWorks will primarily utilize email to communicate with all applicants. Be sure to check email regularly, including spam folders. Email updates to all applicants and finalists will come from Tiarra Wilkie (tiarra@mountainbizworks.org). 

Finalists will be notified by email and must respond promptly. The return of any grantee notification message or document as undeliverable may result in disqualification of the applicable grantee, the forfeiture of their interest in the grant and the selection of a substitute from among all remaining eligible finalists.

Does anything need to be repaid?

No, these grants do not need to be repaid. However, all taxes associated with the acceptance and/or uses of cash awarded are the sole responsibility of the individual grantee. Cash awarded will be reported by MBW to the IRS as MBW deems necessary according to applicable law. It is further the policy of MBW that all grantees be advised to consult with their own tax professionals and/or legal counsel to ascertain the tax impact of the cash awards. 

Have additional questions?

Email Tiarra Wilkie, Mountain BizWorks’ Catalyst Program Manager, at tiarra@mountainbizworks.org with any questions. We will be posting answers and updates on this landing page in an effort to support transparency and equal access to information for all applicants.

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