Grant Notification Date: March 1, 2024
Grant Application Due: March 27, 2024 at 5pm PST
For translation, please use the UserWay icon in the upper right corner. For additional language translation support, please contact Grant & Project Specialist, Jena Yang at email@example.com.
The Washington State Microenterprise Association (WSMA) is dedicated to strengthening business technical assistance providers as they engage with economic development partners to support the smallest businesses to grow sustainably, equitably and financially throughout Washington state.
Thanks to support from the Washington State Department of Commerce, WSMA is opening this statewide grant opportunity to fund nonprofit organizations in urban settings that provide business training, technical assistance, and access to financing for the smallest businesses in Washington state, with particular focus on those operating in the gig economy.
These partners include nonprofit Entrepreneur Support Organizations (ESOs) also known as Microenterprise Development Organizations (MDOs), Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), Small Business Resiliency Partners (SBRN) and other organizations that serve Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC), veterans, people with disabilities, returning citizens, LGBTQ+ and other very small businesses.
WSMA will be building on prior efforts involving workers/entrepreneurs in the gig economy for the focus of this grant initiative. This grant cycle invites organizations that are eager to showcase their tools, programs and resources that strengthen business services tailored for gig workers/entrepreneurs throughout the state. The gig economy is activity where people earn income providing on-demand work, services or goods. Often, it's through a digital platform like an app or website. Examples of gig workers include freelancers, independent contractors, project-based workers and temporary or part-time hires.
Gig business workers/business owners have often been misunderstood, underserved and isolated from traditional business services. WSMA wants to develop better ways to support gig workers. This labor market is generally composed of people with a side hustle or those who provide freelance work to generate income on their own schedule. These roles offer flexibility and enable folks to supplement their income or simply work when they want. Unfortunately, there aren’t many protections for these entrepreneurs. We want to better understand how to reach and serve these businesses with meaningful, timely and practical business resources.
This quick deployment of very small, focused grants (Total of $80,000 is available for all grants in this round) is targeted toward nonprofits working in urban communities that have experience working with gig entrepreneurs and are familiar with the conditions in which they are operating. We want to continue to map out their unique business needs and opportunities, their pain points, the networks that reach and serve them effectively. The goal is to develop and share tools that will help all of our ESOs partners more effectively provide business training, technical assistance, and financing to support gig business workers/business owners.
Grants approved under this contract may be used to pay project related expenses, including but not limited to technical assistance, training outreach and education materials, translation and interpretive services and efforts to help keep businesses in operation. However, funds may not be used for equipment (tangible property including but not limited to copiers, vehicles, furniture, software and technology infrastructure) nor delivered directly to gig workers or gig businesses. This includes but is not limited to stipends, grants, transportation support, or other funds of any kind provided to businesses and/or business owners. Further restrictions will be highlighted in the contract for services once grants are awarded.
The application period is short with a deadline of Wednesday, March 27, 2024 at 5:00pm, so we encourage you to review these Grant Guidelines as soon as possible.
WSMA is committed to ensuring that equal opportunity is provided to Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC), veterans, woman-owned enterprises, entrepreneurs with disabilities, justice involved entrepreneurs and others historically shut out from funding, training programs, financing and other opportunities. Unfortunately, academic institutions are not eligible for funding at this time.
Eligible applicants are:
Existing, Embedded, or Emerging non-profit Entrepreneur Support Organizations (ESOs), Microenterprise Development Organizations (MDO) or other non-profit organizations located in urban communities of Washington State that support and provide business development services to microenterprises, especially in historically marginalized and under-resourced communities in Washington state.
They must have:
This is a short project period and funds must be expended by June 21, 2024. Activities can begin on the date of contract signing. Initial grant funds will be available to grantees within 20 business days of contract signature with final disbursement of funds upon the submission of the final report.
All applicants will be required to upload a 2024 WSMA Funding Request Form to the grant portal. See Section 10, tab 3 of the Program Guidelines for the format required. Please note, funds can not go directly to gig businesses or gig workers.
Priority areas of focus include Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC), veterans, people with disabilities, returning citizens, LGBTQ+ and other historically marginalized microbusinesses in Washington State.
Because of the specific focus of this short cycle of urban grant funding, there will be a limited number of grants awarded in the amounts of either $10,000 or $20,000 based on the applicant's proposed deliverables and other selection criteria as noted in Item 6.
Application requests should be for $20,000 or $10,000. Applicants will use the 2024 WSMA Fund Request Form in Section 10. A written budget justification for each line item is required.
Grants approved under this contract may be used to pay project related expenses, including but not limited to technical assistance, training, outreach and education materials, translation and interpretive services. However, funds may not be used for equipment (tangible property including but not limited to copiers, vehicles, furniture, software and technology infrastructure). In addition, funds may not be delivered directly to businesses or gig entrepreneurs. Further restrictions will be highlighted in the contract for services once grants are awarded.
Funding will be awarded based on the quality of the strategies, demonstrated relevance to the needs of these gig entrepreneurs, and the capacity of the organization to accomplish the goals of the initiative within the timeline of the grant.
A demonstration of services, resources, tools, etc. being provided by the grantee for small gig based businesses must occur within this grant period.
Applicants may apply for funds to strengthen businesses the organization serves. Funded programs will provide best practice tools, resources, education, training and other supports specifically designed to support gig entrepreneurs in every sector. Programs can include webinars, workshops, or training programs, technical assistance or other innovative strategies to build the capacity of gig entrepreneurs to stabilize their businesses, attract new customers, manage their finances, fine tune their operations or access financing.
Each proposal will be independently evaluated. WSMA is dedicated to ensuring that funds are distributed throughout the state to achieve geographic and demographic equity.
Successful applications will demonstrate an ability to understand gig business workers/business owners, an ability to reach gig business workers/business owners, demonstrate expertise working with gig workers and owners, able to assess their needs, provide tools that have been effective in supporting gig workers and gig business owners, and an ability to document strategies that have beneficial to gig workers and entrepreneurs.
WSMA encourages applications that inspire innovation, ensure social inclusion and the use of circular economy principles in key sectors of our economy. These sectors include, but are not limited to agriculture/food, childcare, clean materials/clean tech, creative economy/arts, energy/efficiency, home building/construction, life sciences, maritime trades, small scale manufacturing and tourism. Cross-sector collaboration and innovation within and among these sectors will also be prioritized.
In the past, WSMA has received requests in excess of our available grant funds and we may not be able to fund all applicants. This grant cycle seeks to explore the landscape of the gig economy and while we hope to continue to support this work, funding is not guaranteed to continue in future years.
All awarded grantees will be required to submit a Final Report on or before June 21, 2024. WSMA will provide a template for reports and all grantees will be required to use the WSMA Grant Portal for report submission. Please contact the Grant & Project Specialist, Jena Yang at firstname.lastname@example.org for additional details.
Before You Begin: We strongly encourage applicants to create and edit your answers in a separate Word document to copy and paste into the grant portal. Make sure your responses do not exceed the word count for each question. Once you are finished, paste your responses into the online form when you are ready to apply, so that you don’t lose your work. Once , you will not be able to edit your application.
1. Organization Information (if an account is not already set up)
2. Organization's Washington State Legislative and Congressional District
Each proposal will be independently evaluated. WSMA is dedicated to ensuring that funds are distributed to nonprofit organizations serving urban businesses throughout the state to achieve geographic and demographic equity.
Please upload a Word or PDF document up to three (3) pages long addressing the following questions:
1. Describe your organization’s ability to reach and serve gig workers/business owners in your urban area. Provide details of your connections with these workers and how you know you are on track with what they need. Provide examples of how your organization has supported the business needs of gig workers and owners.
2. What research, partners or other information have you used to gather data or understand the needs and gaps in support noted by gig workers?
3. Regarding your outreach, engagement and services for BIPOC-owned businesses in your service area, identify the communities you serve below. Check all that apply:
4. Does the executive director of your organization identify as BIPOC?
5. Identify the communities below for which you currently provide dedicated services and/or seek to provide with this grant funding (check all that apply).
6. List the primary deliverables your organization will provide with these grant funds. How do you intend to use WSMA grant funds? What tools and resources will you provide to gig workers/business owners for their small enterprises?
Here are some possible examples:
1. Amount requested: Requests need to be $20,000 or $10,000. Applicants should only apply for the amount they can practically deploy in the short window of the grant period.
2. Funding Request Form: Please use the format below Tools and Resources for Assisting Gig Entrepreneurs with their Small Businesses Fund Request Form.
Outcomes are vital for understanding the impact of these funds. Identify the projected unduplicated outcomes (people being served, surveyed or supported or work being paid for specifically with these funds) of your proposal. Intensive support for a smaller number of businesses is sometimes as valuable as reaching many companies with limited programing. Gauge your impact carefully. Put a zero (0) if this category does not apply to you.
Jobs & Businesses
Business Training Series (Group based, multiple related sessions with an end date)
Business Workshops/Webinars (a single event)
Technical Assistance (1:1 and small group)
Access to Financing (Loans/Grants)
Demographics of those to be served
Please Note: By entering your name, title, and date into the WSMA Grant Portal, you are:
An application walk through on the WSMA grant portal will be part of the Information Sessions & Grant Portal Walkthrough Webinar on March 6, 2024. You can register HERE. The video will also be posted on the WSMA YouTube Channel.
Yes, the WSMA grant portal also allows applicants to save their work in draft form to come back to before submitting the final version.
Unfortunately, once an applicant submits their application, you can NOT make changes. However, If you accidentally submit before completion of the application, please contact the Grant & Project Specialist, Jena Yang at email@example.com.
The person ultimately responsible for this project should certify the application. This could be an executive director, board president, chief financial officer, etc.
You will receive a confirmation email to the address you provided from firstname.lastname@example.org, which will also include a PDF of your application for your records. You will also receive email communications as your application moves through the review process and if our reviewers require additional information.
You will receive a confirmation email from WSMA staff on or before April 19, 2024 to the address you provided.
You must first click Save Draft. Once this is done, reopen the Project Information tab and an upload graphic (file with an up arrow) will appear and you will use this to upload your document.
Please use the format above (2024 WSMA Grants Funding Request Form) by copying it to a new document (Word preferred) and saving to your computer. You can also download the Word version on our website. Once you fill in your budget justification AND amounts, you can then save this document on your computer. You will then upload this document to the portal using the upload graphic that appears after you click Save Draft (see below).
You must first enter the amount requested from WSMA only, not the total of your project (if it is different) and then click Save Draft. Once this is done, reopen the Funding Request tab and an upload graphic (file with an up arrow) will appear and you will use this to upload your form.