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Inclusive Backing Grant Program for Small Business Owners in the U.S.

Application Deadline: November 29, 2021 at 11:59pm CT

As small businesses continue to feel the impact of the pandemic, many still need support to keep their doors open. To back underrepresented small business owners as they navigate the pandemic and plan for long-term success and resilience, American Express is partnering with Main Street America to launch a $1.65M year-round program called Inclusive Backing. As part of American Express’ Backing Small initiative, the program will provide hundreds of underrepresented small businesses with financial support as well as other resources to address their critical needs and challenges.

As part of the first cycle of grants, National ACE Foundation is partnering with American Express and Main Street America to award $5,000 grants to small business owners in older or historic commercial districts across the country, with priority given to businesses that have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. This program will provide grants to small business owners who identify as Asian, Asian American and/or Pacific Islander. Applications will open Nov. 18 at 9am CT.


Businesses must meet the following criteria to apply:

  • 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 applicant’s business has a “brick-and-mortar” location and operates in an older or historic main street, downtown or commercial district in the U.S.
  • The applicant’s business employs 20 or fewer full-time employees, including the owner.
  • The applicant’s business has been in operation since January 1, 2020.
  • The applicant is an owner of the business and is 18 years of age or older.
  • Business must be at least 51% owned, operated, and controlled, by a person with disabilities and/or a person who identifies as Asian, Asian American, and/or Pacific Islander (AAPI).

Application Procedure

Eligible grant expenses include but are not limited to:

  • Physical improvements to business space to meet relevant reopening requirements implemented because of COVID-19
  • Equipment to comply with public health and safety guidelines (i.e., touchless payment methods, automatic door open sensors, or disposable menus)
  • Fees associated with expanding the business to e-commerce sales and/or other business innovations
  • Other professional services, such as business plan modifications
  • Rent, payroll, and other operating expenses

Please note that applications will only be accepted through the application portal once it opens on Nov. 18.

Official Website: Inclusive Backing Grant Program for Small Business Owners in the U.S.



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