One area where felons struggle after release from prison is “finding employment”. Even when they are able to find employment, Felons may be limited to entry-level minimum wage jobs. Depending on the state of residence and personal expenses, a minimum wage job may be insufficient for a felon.
Higher paying positions may require that job applicants do not have any felony convictions or any convictions in the last 7-10 years. The above-stated requirement disqualifies many felons during the hiring process.
Furthermore, felons convicted for murder, assault, armed robbery, and sex-related crimes may find it particularly hard to find employment. This is because most employers try to ensure the safety of the customers and staff. To ensure that everyone is safe, many employers choose not to hire people who may endanger the customers and staff.
To solve the employment problem, some felons choose to start their own business. The problem that potential business owners have is finding capital. This situation is even harder on felons because many financial institutions may refuse to give them a loan.
A solution to this problem is ‘a business grant’.
Difference Between a Grant and a Loan
A grant is not the same as a loan. A loan refers to money that is borrowed from an individual. After an agreed period, the loan is usually paid back with interest. A grant is a money given to an individual who needs it for a determined purpose. The condition for giving out a grant is that the money will be used for the stated purpose.
If you are a felon who would like to start your own business, you should start looking into business grants.
Here, we will list some business grants that fund felons. We will also provide you with a list of everything you should know about business grants for felons.
Everything you should know about business grants for felons
1. You do not need to pay back a grant: The individual, organization, or agency that gives you the grant does not expect payment. Rather, they are funding a business or new idea.
2. To receive a grant, you may need to meet some conditions: Before you are given a grant, you will have to be seen as eligible. To be eligible to receive the grant, you will need to meet certain requirements. The requirements differ according to the organization providing the grant and the purpose for which the grant is being given. In some cases, you may need to sign an agreement stating that you have met the necessary requirements.
3. Grants will not affect your credit score: Some felons have good credit scores after leaving prison and despite this, they are unable to get business loans because of their criminal record. The good news is that they can apply for business grants. Being given a business grant will not have a negative impact on their credit score. However, defaulting on a loan payment can cause a decline in their credit score.
4. Some grants are paid periodically: Some business grants are paid periodically or renewable. Before you are given another grant, your sponsor may examine what you did with the previous funds. If you did not follow through with your business plans, your funding will be discontinued.
In these cases, you will need to submit updates to continue receiving funds.
5. Business grants are not gifts: If you have received a business grant, you should endeavor to use it judiciously. There are conditions attached to receiving grants. If you squander the business grant you may be sued and become ineligible to receive further assistance.
6. You cannot use federal government grants to fund religious activities: If you receive a grant from the federal government, you cannot use this to fund any religious activities. If this should happen and it is brought to the attention of the government, you will not be considered eligible to receive any other business grant.
7. Having a criminal record does not disqualify you from receiving a business grant. However, convictions for theft, fraud and corporate crimes could make it hard to trust a felon who is applying for a business grant.
Read also: College grants for felons
Business grants for Convicted felons
1. Federal government grants
Grants.gov is a website where all the types of grants you can get from the federal government are listed. These grants are not for felons alone. However, if you qualify for a grant, being a felon will not mean automatic disqualification or ineligibility to receive a grant.
You will have to use the filter on the website to find the grant that fits your needs and your vision.
2. State, regional and local grants
Some states and communities have programs designed to help felons who want to start their business after being released from prison. Some of these programs include providing funds for the felon to use for their business.
At times, these grants are not sponsored by the state. Sometimes groups within the community, local non-profit organizations, religious groups try to provide grants for felons.
However local groups and organizations do not have a lot of money to provide grants for all felons within the region. Therefore, doling out these grants may be on a first-come basis. Furthermore, the felon may need to show dedication before they are given a grant.
3. Correctional facilities
Felons may be able to acquire useful business skills while incarcerated. The skills acquired cannot be considered as monetary grants. However, these skills are usually handiwork or courses that can be used to earn money. Some of these include beauty courses, culinary classes, computer classes, writing and business courses.
4. Community funded grants
There are numerous online communities where people in need of money can ask for donations. A felon can use such platforms to beg for funding. with this method, the felon is reliant on the goodwill of those who sees his/her request.
Furthermore, it could take a long time to raise the funds that the felon needs for their business. In some cases, the money raised may be insufficient. In a few cases, the individuals may get donations that exceed their request.
Platforms for community-funded grants include GoFundMe, Kickstarter, and IndieGoGo.
In such cases, the platform used may collect a certain percentage from the donations.
5. Non-profit organizations
A large number of non-profit organizations are involved in helping felons open businesses. The way the theses organizations help vary. Some organizations provide knowledge, mentorships, and others may provide cash grants.
If you have applied for a federal business grant and your application has been rejected, all hope is not lost. Do some research and look for organizations and individuals who give business grants to felons. Apply to as many organizations as possible and wait for a response.
Robert Gomez was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. He currently lives in Northern California with “the wifey,” “the kids,” “the dog,” and “that cat,” 🙁 He is also a former journalist who has interviewed murderers on death row. Felonyfriendlyjobs.org was born to help ex-felons get a second chance in life.