Beyond Open Offers Business-Building Grants
Last fall, nearly 180 local small businesses were awarded a collective $5.9 million from a new grant program, Beyond Open. The focus of this grant program is to bolster economic mobility with a focus on helping diverse (minority, woman, veteran, LGBTQ+, persons with disabilities) small business owners in Charlotte-Mecklenburg acquire capital assets. That includes creative entrepreneurs and artists.
Today, Beyond Open reopened for a second round of funding. Grantmakers intend to inject another $5 million into 150 diverse-owned small businesses, supporting their ability to acquire capital assets. That includes creative entrepreneurs and artists. Round Two grants will range from $10,000 to $150,000. Applications will be accepted through August 31 at noon.
Before you jump into applying, here are some important things to know.
Who is managing Beyond Open?
Beyond Open is administered by FFTC Partners For Empowering Communities (“FPEC”), a supporting organization of Foundation For The Carolinas. FPEC is supported in this effort by the Wells Fargo Open for Business Fund.
Am I eligible to apply for Beyond Open funds?
Small businesses must meet all of the requirements below to be eligible for a Beyond Open Round Two grant. The focus of this round is on small businesses owned by minorities, women, veterans, LGBTQ+ and persons with disabilities in the Corridors of Opportunity. The requirements include:
- Being physically located within one of six Corridors of Opportunity.
- Have 1 – 200 employees.
- Have been in business for at least one year (on or before August 1, 2022).
- Have a minimum of $30,000, but not more than $5 million in annual revenue.
- Nonprofits are not eligible in this round.
Are there tools that will help me with my application?
Absolutely. The Beyond Open team has provided even more preparation tools in this round. Before you begin writing your applications, we recommend the following:
- Click the image above and consult the Application Guide created by the grantmaking team to help you prepare.
- Make sure you are located within a Corridor of Opportunity. Maps are here.
- Consult the eligibility requirements to ensure you are welcome to apply. That list is here.
- Sign up to attend the live Q & A session with Aspire Community Capital on Aug. 2 or the online session on Aug. 7. Register here.
- Read the application in full before you begin answering questions.
- Double-check to make sure you have all the paperwork required to apply well in advance of August 31.
What kind of small businesses were funded in Round One?
It ran the gamut of creative small businesses, from DJs to art installers. Click here for a full list of Round One grantees. We encourage you to click on the images below to hear from two Queen City creatives – DJ Smitty and Kathryn Gordon of Studio Cultivate – about how Beyond Open helped them in Round One.
What kind of capital assets can be funded by Beyond Open?
Eligible applicants may apply for equipment, technology, inventory and real estate. Beyond Open grants are not loans and do not need to be repaid.
How competitive is Beyond Open?
Very. 3,200 applications were submitted for just under 180 grants in Round One. Grantmakers expect a similar number in Round Two vying for around 175 grants. Don’t let that scare you. Just be prepared to put your best foot forward and demonstrate how an investment in your capital assets will make a huge impact on your future success.
Applicants are encouraged to start working on their applications now – well in advance of the due date.
Just ask Rocky Balboa, everyone needs words of inspiration to get ready for Round Two. We recommend you click here and listen to an original work of spoken word about Beyond Open written and performed by Charlotte’s inaugural Poet Laureate, Jay Ward.
The special batch of The Biscuit was sponsored by Beyond Open CLT. A portion of the funds generated by this work will help fund a H.U.G. Micro-Grant from Charlotte Is Creative awarded to a local creative entrepreneur.