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Business Grants For Felons

Written by: John Crawford
Last updated: January 30, 2024

Every year, thousands of ex-felons are released from jail and strive to become productive members of society once again. However, most incarcerated felons struggle to live a normal life upon their release. Potential barriers from securing a long-term job, such as background checks and poor credit scores, hinder ex-felons from earning a stable income.

Fortunately, business funding opportunities and government grants are available to help felons get back on their feet. Business owners, especially those with disadvantages businesses, can look towards federal and private grant resources to boost their ventures. Although the options are limited, organizations, charities, and even correctional facilities offer business grant programs for felons.

Correctional Facilities

While you're in prison, you should take advantage of the resources offered by correctional facilities. Most of them offer programs to teach entrepreneurial skills to inmates. This can be useful for starting and running a small business upon their release. With the right business strategies, inmates can pave the way towards successful business ownership.

On the other hand, you can also learn about practical skills for prospective jobs, such as culinary arts, crafts, or even Microsoft Office.

HelpForFelons.org

In every aspect of life, felons, inmates, and ex-offenders can get guidance and support from Help For Felons. There are many good resources and directories on this site about jobs, legal aid, financial help, housing, and more to help felons with reentry. This organization, a nonprofit organization, strives to give ex-felons the skills and tools they need to lead successful business lives.

Inmates to Entrepreneurs

Established in 2005, Inmates to Entrepreneurs is a non-profit outreach organization that provides financial assistance to former inmates and offenders who want to start their own businesses. Bank software provider Sageworks also supports this initiative, which attempts to make ex-felons respectable members of society. 

This nonprofit offers two free entrepreneurship courses for people with criminal backgrounds: a self-paced online course and an eight-week course offered through Zoom. They also provide CDL grants for those felons who want to obtain a commercial driver's license.

Grants.gov

This website allows you to search for federal government grants. However, you are unlikely to find grants specific to felons. Instead, search for grants specific to your business concept, to your nationality, to your heritage, or other characteristics. Moreover, nonprofit programs are more likely to receive grants than for-profit businesses, so you might consider starting one. The online application process in many of these grant programs can be intricate, but they offer a wide range of funding opportunities.

Freelancer Marketplaces

It's a good idea to start a low-investment business from home. This way, you won't have to worry about credit checks or signing leases. Consider starting a business that lets you work remotely, such as graphic design, freelance writing, website design, or marketing communications.

The three most popular marketplaces where freelancers and independent contractors can find clients are Upwork, Freelancer, and Guru. These websites are intermediaries that handle payments securely so that you can work with customers locally or globally with ease.

GoFundMe

People have raised more than $3 billion through GoFundMe, a personal financing site. The fund-raising platform is used primarily for education, medical expenses, and charitable donations. Creating a campaign takes just a few minutes. You must create a compelling argument to convince angel investors to finance your startup via GoFundMe. 

IndieGoGo

You can use this crowdfunding site to finance new product ideas and inventions. Private organizations and private institutions support many crowdfunding efforts, making them good business ventures for those with unique ideas. Crowdfunding experts will guide you through every aspect of campaign launching and management. Through this platform, you can also connect with angel investors for felons, designers, prototypers, retailers, and manufacturers to help take your product to market.

Prison Entrepreneurship Program (PEP)

Through the PEP's six-month entrepreneurship development program, participants receive one-on-one coaching from volunteers to brainstorm business ideas, create business plans, and develop other business skills. The Hankamer School of Business at Baylor University offers a Certificate in Entrepreneurship for the graduates.

Project ReMADE

Formerly incarcerated people are taught basic business skills through this 12-week entrepreneurship program. The program concludes with a graduation ceremony at Stanford Law School where graduates present their business strategies to a panel of executives.

The Last Mile

Inmates and post-inmates learn valuable business and technology skills at this nonprofit organization. Inmates can build their portfolios in their web development shop while working on client-funded projects and then enter the tech job market when they are released.

Conclusion

Discrimination against ex-felons looking for jobs feeds a cycle of economic insecurity, forcing many to turn to illicit activities to make ends meet. It's no surprise, therefore, that nearly two-thirds of felons get rearrested within three years.

They also face restrictions in the workplace, which further adds to the challenge. Depending on the severity of the felony, they might not be able to hold certain positions involving money handling or working with children. In most cases, starting a business or finding angel investors for felons is the solution for those looking to start over. Are you interested in learning more about the various programs and foundations that can help you? Gov Relations can walk you through several business grant programs to ease your financial needs. Government agencies, both federal and private, offer a variety of resources for those in need, from business grants to business loans with the lowest interest rates. Whether you're seeking funding type for real estate, membership options to enhance your network, or additional resources for undergraduate students aiming to redefine their path, a wealth of help awaits.

John Crawford
John Crawford is a dedicated researcher who has devoted his career to studying the intricacies of government benefits programs and their impact on individuals and communities. Armed with a Ph.D. in Social Policy and a strong analytical mind, John has contributed valuable insights through his extensive research projects. His work informs policymakers, enabling them to make data-driven decisions to improve social care programs. John's commitment to evidence-based research has made him a respected figure in the field, advocating for more equitable and effective government benefit policies.
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