EXPANDING ACCESS

Multicultural Catalyst Fund $2,500 Micro-Grants - Round 1

This round of micro-grants is in partnership with the Asheville Downtown Association Foundation (ADAF).

Please note: this is a new program and currently in a pilot phase. We are aiming to support around 15 founders of color through this grant and will be working closely with the founders, fund advisory council, and others to refine and expand the program. Specific terms and details are subject to change.

The Multicultural Catalyst Fund precipitates fundamental changes in traditional lending practices by building on your great ideas to accelerate your business growth.

This round of the grant program, managed by Mountain BizWorks and in partnership with the Asheville Downtown Association Foundation (ADAF), will provide awards in the amount of $2,500 to seven (7) startups and emerging businesses owned by people of color in the downtown Asheville area. The Asheville Downtown Association will also offer a one-year membership to all qualified applicants and grant recipients. See a full list of membership benefits here.

Micro-Grant Purpose 

The Multicultural Catalyst Fund Micro-Grants are designed to be an investment into small businesses owned by entrepreneurs of color in 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. 

Multicultural Catalyst Fund 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 Fund, Cohorts, and now also 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 entrepreneurs of color that often lack access to flexible, affordable capital, have access to the training, tools, and skills they need to successfully run their businesses.

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

Eligibility 

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

  • BIPOC-owned (at least 50%)
  • A for-profit or social enterprise business physically located in downtown Asheville (or if a mobile business like a food truck, must do a majority of its business downtown). Please refer to the Central Business District Map for covered areas. The Central Business District/Downtown area is generally defined by I240 to the north, South Charlotte Street to the east, Short Coxe and Southside Avenue to the south, and Coxe/Asheland to the west extending west on Hilliard Avenue to Clingman Avenue.
  • Limited to start-ups and early-stage businesses with annual gross revenues less than $100,000 
  • Locally and independently owned and operated 
  • Must demonstrate a need and impact for funding

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. 

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

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.

How to Apply 

To apply, applicants will need to complete an online application via a web form. As part of the application process, participants will be required to submit a 60-second video explaining how $2,500 can impact their business. Applications without a video will not be reviewed. 

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 Jeremiah Robinson, Mountain BizWorks’ Entrepreneur In Residence, at jeremiah@mountainbizworks.org with any issues related to your application.

Deadline to Apply

The online application will be opened on April 1, 2021 and run until April 25, 2021. Applications must be completed and submitted no later than 11:59 PM on Sunday, April 25. Applications submitted after the deadline or that are incomplete (i.e. missing required information) will not be considered. Selections will be made and funds dispersed by May 31, 2021. 

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

Round 1 – Selections will be made and funds dispersed by May 31, 2021.

Review Process 

The Multicultural Catalyst Fund Advisory Council, in conjunction with ADAF and 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 two rounds 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.

Reporting 

Agree to report at 6 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 6 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 considered downtown?
The Central Business District/Downtown area is generally defined by I240 to the north, South Charlotte Street to the east, Short Coxe and Southside Avenue to the south, and Coxe/Asheland to the west extending west on Hilliard Avenue to Clingman Avenue. Please refer to the Central Business District Map for covered areas. 

What if my business is mobile (without a fixed physical location)? 

If the business is mobile (like a food truck) you must be able to demonstrate that the bulk of your business occurs in downtown Asheville. 

Is this grant restricted to Asheville Downtown Association (ADA) members? 

No, you do not need to be an ADA member to be eligible for the grant. The Asheville Downtown Association will provide a one-year membership to all qualified applicants and grant recipients. See a full list of membership benefits here.

What is the size of the awards? 

Grants will be awarded in the amount of $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. A copy of the entire application is available here as a PDF. We recommend reviewing the application questions and preparing your responses before starting the application. (Note: you can only submit the application via the online form; these copies are just to help you prepare your responses and write content that you can copy/paste into the online form. Doing so has the added benefit of ensuring that internet glitches won’t cause you to lose your application information while you’re working on it). 

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.

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 Jeremiah Robinson (jeremiah@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 Jeremiah Robinson, Mountain BizWorks’ Entrepreneur In Residence, at jeremiah@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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