Rolling Out

How to apply for the White House’s grant competition

How to give your business the chance to receive a historic amount of money

Black and Brown businesses have a chance to receive up to $3 million of funding for the next four years, thanks in large part to Don Cravins Jr.

For Cravins, it began when he was a child living in southeastern Louisiana. The son of two business owners, he watched the couple struggle to meet payroll some weeks and get fewer opportunities than their White counterparts. When he grew up, his mission was clear and concise — help level the playing field for minority business owners.

Now, he is the first Under Secretary of commerce for Minority Business Development, where he leads the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency. The agency has existed for over 50 years, but didn’t become a permanent federal agency until President Joe Biden made it one in 2021.

After receiving $100 million, the agency plans to fund proposals for up to $3 million over four years per guarantee in the Capital Readiness Program. The program was created to help entrepreneurs who are applying, have applied or plan to apply to Treasury’s State Small Business Credit Initiative or other government programs that support small businesses.

For more details, and to apply for the grant, visit this website. The deadline to apply is Feb. 28.

Cravins recently spoke to rolling out about the grant, as well as his personal journey to the White House.

What was the motive for launching the Capital Readiness Program Grant competition?

I’ve only been in this job for a few months, but what I’m most excited about is we’ve got an opportunity to really make systemic change in our nation’s history. The Department of Treasury created a program, a couple of years back under President Biden’s leadership, called the State Small Business Credit Initiative. President Biden allocated billions of dollars to that program with the intent of equity. How do we get equity, capital equity, money, in an equitable way to people of color? One part of that is the $100 million fund that was given to the Minority Business Development Agency.

You’ve been in this line of work for decades now. What keeps you going?

… Sitting at those dinner tables, wondering if we were going to be able to make payroll, wondering if we were going to be able to support those men and women who worked for our business, would they be willing to maybe allow us to pay them the following week because we were still waiting on receipts? That’s when it started for me.

Growing up, I was a state legislator in Louisiana. I represented people of color and businesses of color during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and watching that was not only hard for all businesses, White, Black, but it was increasingly hard for Black businesses because our businesses don’t have the nest eggs that some of our White brothers’ and sisters’ businesses had with family money. So it continued for me throughout my life, working on Capitol Hill at the National Urban League, where I served there as well, and now here the Department of Commerce.

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