How To Get Small Business Grants For Felons

Considering the discrimination ill misconceptions surrounding the daily life of felons and ex-convicts, it’s understandable why you would think it’s nearly impossible to turn your life around. Even finding a regular day job after release can be hard. What more will it be when we talk about starting a business?

However, if you’re fully decided on being an entrepreneur, the first thing that you should do is to change your mindset into a positive one.

It will really be difficult, but keep in mind that there are countless programs and organizations that can help. The government, alone, has several business grants for felons that can help you get back up on your feet and successfully start a small business of your own.

That said, what specific grants for felons can you apply for, and how can you look for more? This is what we’re going to walk you through in the following sections.

What Are Small Business Grants

A business grant is a sum of money awarded for a business from a government or other organization. The money is typically given in order to help the business start up, expand, or create jobs.

There are many different types of business grants, but they all essentially provide funding for businesses that may be struggling or for businesses that are working on new and innovative projects. Business grants can come from the government, from private organizations, or from foundations. The requirements and application process for each type of grant will vary, but the overall goal is to provide financial assistance to businesses.

The Best Small Business Grants for Felons

The US government offers several grants for felons to start a business. This is the first thing that you should browse through since they are the most legitimate and reliable grantors around.

For reference, small business grants are one of the best ways to start being an entrepreneur if you’re a felon and you don’t have access to large finances and other related resources. It will be better than a loan since you won’t have to risk going into debt if things go wrong on the first try.


Here are some of the best programs that you should consider:

1. Reentry Employment Opportunities Program

The Reentry Employment Opportunities or REO Program is officiated by the US Department of Labor. This offers felon-specific grants, which are suitable for youths, young adults, and fully-grown adults.

This program’s goal is to help the said group to enter society again by giving them the capability to either be a part of the workforce or form their own in the process.

Along with the REO grant, you will receive a hands-on guide from the department. You will be regularly monitored, evaluated, and assisted in ensuring that both you and the grant are in a good place. Note, though, that the amount you will receive will vary. The application process is also highly competitive and strict.

2. Boots to Business Grant

Boots to Business Grant is another program reserved especially for felons who are looking to obtain financial assistance to start a business. This is handled by the US Small Business Administration and offers a grant of up to $5,000.

The good thing about the Boots to Business Grant is it thoroughly prepares the grantee to start a business. Apart from the money, you will get access to free courses and classes revolving around entrepreneurship. They will also provide you with the necessary tools that you will need to successfully manage your business.

3. DOJ Grants for Felon Reentry

The US Department of Justice offers several programs to prepare felons for their reentry into society. You can expect around ten grants for various felons, some of which are directed to aiding in starting a business.

To add, the department also has programs designed for helping ex-convicts be a part of a career through a workforce, which can be a good path to take if you want to collect experience first before indulging in being an entrepreneur. Amounts will vary depending on which program you apply and qualify for.

4. Rural Business Development Grant Program

If you’re a felon planning to start a business in rural areas, then the Rural Business Development Grant Program is definitely worth checking out. This isn’t exclusive only for ex-convicts, but you can still rest assured that you can apply for the program despite your background.

Here, you have the choice to apply for a specific grant amount. It will be evaluated depending on what kind of business you want to start and what your current capabilities are in terms of financial standing. This makes it a versatile choice for aspiring entrepreneurs. Just expect the lengthy application process tied with it.

State-Specific Grants for Felons;

State-specific grants are as helpful. These are also backed by the government, so you won’t have anything to worry about eligibility either. The only issue is these have more limited coverage. You can only apply for the grants if you live in a certain state or you plan on starting a business in the said location.

Without further ado, here are some grants you can check out under state-specific grants:

5. Ohio: New Small Business Grant

Felons who are living in Ohio should look into the New Small Business Grant. Check-in with your local government and ask the terms for this grant program since it’s one of your best choices as an ex-convict. This is a rather new program. Even so, expect its legitimacy and generosity. If qualified, you can have $10,000 worth of grants at most.

Although the New Small Business Grant is exclusive, you should still take your chance in asking if it’s already available in your state.

6. Ohio: MicroEnterprise Grant

Another Ohio-exclusive grant program is the MicroEnterprise Grant. Its goal is to help entrepreneurs, both soon and present, survive the social and economic challenges they face in their businesses.

As of the present, the program offers as much as $25,000. This is not exclusive only for ex-convicts, but it stays as one of the best choices considering their goal. That said, you should apply for this grant if you’re a felon who is planning to start a business. It will also suit those who are already managing one but aren’t garnering the desired profit.

7. Minnesota: Microgrants Personal Grants for Felons

Felons living in Minnesota should find the Personal Grants for Felons program helpful for their needs. It’s mainly offered by the state’s Microgrants, a government-backed organization that especially provides financial assistance.

The said program offers $1,000 for personal grants. It may seem a little small compared to the previous grants, but it will still be a big help. You can use it to buy equipment, stocks, or even aid in the exact opening of your future business.

Organization Thats Provides Small Business Grants for Felons

If you want more comprehensive access to grants for felons, here are some of the platforms that you can go to find programs yourself:

1. Inmates to Entrepreneurs

Inmates to Entrepreneurs is a non-profit organization that mainly helps formerly incarcerated felons get back up on their feet. They offer grants, counseling, advice, and many more, all of which will be handy in starting a business with your kind of background. You can also expect in-depth training that will revolve around business and workforce management to fully give you that advantage.

2. Help for Felons

Similar to the former, Help for Felons is also an organization dedicated to helping felons with financial needs, career assistance, and everything that an ex-convict may need in entering society again.

That said, you can expect the organization to provide resources regarding possible grants, scholarships, job opportunities, housing assistance, and likes.

3. is a site that contains information on all existing government grants. It will serve as a handbook that you can use to search through a list of countless programs. All you need to do is to enter relevant keywords like “felons,” “business grants,” “startup,” and “entrepreneurs.” The only con here is it can be difficult and overwhelming to find the right grant for you.

Other Options for Getting Financial Grants as a Felon

Of course, grants aren’t your only option to obtain financial assistance for your soon-to-be business.

Below are some more financing options that you can check out:

  • Angel Investors or private investors that offer to fund for aspiring entrepreneurs, felons included, in order to help start a business.
  • Crowdfunding Sites or sites like GoFundMe that will let you start a site where people can donate to you to help achieve your goal.

Your options are basically endless as long as you exert the time and effort to search for grants and programs that will suit you.


Being a felon shouldn’t stop you from having your career. With the right resources at hand, you’ll find yourself striving like a regular person in no time.

To make the hunting process easier, it will definitely be best if you start with the grants we discussed above. Take note of each program’s requirements, eligibility, and coverage, and start choosing from there. You should also exert time and effort to prepare yourself and stand out from the competition.

Read About More Grants

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

To give you a clearer view of the topic, below are some frequently asked questions that may help:

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