Understanding The Amber Grant

Grants for women-owned businesses can be found on a variety of websites. If you don’t like government websites (like the Small Business Administration), you’ll have numerous options that are a bit sketchy.

Women-owned businesses don’t have to worry: WomensNet helps them find grants, loans, and other funding. There is still work to be done, though. However, if you’re serious about starting your own business, this website will be a vital resource for you.

About Amber Grants

In 1998, WomensNet introduced the Amber Grant. The grant was created as a tribute to Amber Wigdahl, a very special young woman who died before realizing her business dreams when she was just 19 years old.

All five boroughs of New York City (and all over the United States) are eligible for this grant program.  Amber Grants are awarded monthly, and each award is worth $10,000. The winner will be automatically entered into the drawing for the $25,000 Amber Grant at the end of the year. You may be able to earn $35,000 by the end of the year after taking a few minutes to fill out an application.

Types Of Amber Grants

WomensNet awards 400,000 dollars worth of grants to women-owned businesses throughout the year. You need to fill out only one application to be considered for all of these grants. 

Monthly Amber Grant

Five finalists are chosen each month from all applications. The monthly Amber Grant grant winner will be selected from those finalists. The other four finalists receive $1,000 each. Those who are awarded the $10,000 Amber Grant every month qualify for the $25,000 grant awarded at the end of the year.

$25,000 Annual Amber Grant

Two separate $25,000 grants are awarded to women-owned businesses every year. One of their previous monthly Amber Grant winners will receive a $25,000 grant. Another $25,000 grant will be awarded to a previous $10,000 winner of their Business Category Grant.

The Marketing Grant

They provide “hands-on” marketing assistance to a woman-owned business twice a year. They conduct strategic sessions with: 

  • Their Advisory Board members and other WomensNet “friends” attend events.
  • Support for executing a marketing plan by a professional agency.

The Non-Profit Grant

$10,000 is awarded to a non-profit business or organization every quarter. Women make up around 75% of the workforce for non-profits. This one’s for you if you’re dedicated to providing a good or service to your community as part of your non-profit.

Business Category Grants

A woman entrepreneur who completes the Amber Grant application can receive up to $10,000 (for the month the application is submitted). The Amber Grant also offers a $10,000 Business Category grant every month. They’ve discovered that some business categories are underrepresented in securing grant funding.

In other words, applicants who fall under certain business categories are automatically qualified (once per year) for the $10,000 Monthly Business Category Grant. Please see the calendar below. It is possible to submit the same application for the Category grant until the month in which your category occurs. Twelve category winners are selected to receive a $25,000 grant at the end of the year.

  • January: Skilled Trades
  • February: Health & Fitness March: Food & Beverage
  • April: Sustainability
  • May: Mental & Emotional Support
  • June: Business Support Service
  • July: Animal Services
  • August: Hair Care & Products
  • September: Education & Child Care
  • October: Creative Arts
  • November: Skin Care & Wellness
  • December: Fashion Designers

Mini-Grants

Their Advisory Board members each have access to funds to give out “Mini-Grants” (up to $2,000) during the year. Sometimes, women business owners need a smaller grant, but one that is still vital. In 2022, a total of $48,000 will be made available for Mini-Grants.

Amber Grant Application

Applications are easy to fill out. Describe your business dream and yourself in a few words. You will not have to fill out long, complicated forms. Your business becomes instantly eligible for all grant programs when you submit one application. Grant winners are announced by the 23rd of the following month. 

It is not necessary to “sound corporate.” The past grant winners are women who have simply shared their hearts. The judges look for business skills and passion in grant requests. There is no such thing as a small business dream. The Amber Grant has been awarded to inventors, bakers, and scientific researchers. Ultimately, what matters the most is YOU – the woman (or women) who runs the business.

If you are interested in applying for one of these grants, please visit their applications page. Application fees are $15 through a secure checkout process. All businesses and individuals must provide the following details. 

  • Full name
  • Email address
  • Business name
  • Web or Facebook page
  • Your business idea

Tips For Writing A Winning Amber Grant Application

Startup businesses have a hard time getting free money. It’s, therefore, crucial to give your best effort in every grant application you submit, including WomensNet’s Amber Grant program.

In other words, you don’t need to write a long business plan; instead, emphasize why your business or product is legitimate and worthy of funding. A couple of years ago, Women’sNet’s Amber Grants advisory board told me this is what the best applications would include.

Those who had successfully applied for grants had also offered these suggestions:

Address questions on the application directly and fully

The Amber Grant application contains many writing prompts designed to get a clear picture of the business concept and the entrepreneur’s vision. Even though a company’s website and social media profiles provide plenty of information, they don’t always tell the whole story. Your application should provide all the information a potential client needs to understand your business.

Questions specific to your situation include:

  • What is your company’s story?
  • What is its significance for you? 
  • What inspired you to come up with this idea? 
  • What has been the experience of starting it so far?
  • Where does your motivation come from? 
  • Why are you interested in this business idea?
  • Can you describe the challenges and opportunities? 
  • What would you do with the money if you were awarded the grant?

Do Your Research

You can apply for a grant the same way you would for a job. Consider reading about past grant recipients, learning about the sponsoring organization, and adhering to the specific requirements outlined (usually, an FAQ page is helpful). You should model your applications after those successful in other grant programs.

Length Of the Application

It should take more than 200-300 words to describe how you came up with your business idea, why you believe now is the time for it to be launched, how large your market is, and what the response has been thus far. It would be good to hold off applying until you have more information about your business.

Nevertheless, don’t fill your application with irrelevant information to make it longer. Stop at 800 or 1,000 words if you can outline your idea, who you are, and what you will use the money for. Alternately, use 2,000 words if you need to make your point more effectively. However, if you go beyond that, you’re likely to be too specific or repeat yourself.

In recent months, Amber Grant applications have been averaging approximately 600 words, and Amber Grant recipients – the ones who won – have averaged nearly 850 words.

Do’s and Don’ts

You should write your application in a program such as Pages or Microsoft Word to have a copy in your files. By saving a copy, you can recall what you wrote and use it as a template for writing other applications in the future.

When possible, link to your company or brand’s website. If you do not have one, you can share links to social media accounts, such as LinkedIn or to other sites that describe the story you’re telling.

Assume that the grant committee members are not experts in your field. This is likely to be the case. It’s, therefore, best to avoid using jargon or buzzwords that only you will understand, as this will confuse the people reading your application.

Whether you win a grant depends on how well your business fits with what the committee is looking for. Therefore, please do not consider it a comment on the competitiveness of your business or the inventiveness of your idea.

Taking the time to fill out a grant application is valuable because it forces them to think about what they’re trying to sell, to whom, and why their solution is better than anything else available. Simply applying for an Amber Grant will likely give you clarity about your business regardless of whether you win it this month.

Are you interested in learning more about different grants and programs that can help you with your living situation? Check out the rest of Gov Relations’ blog section today!