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$500 Million California Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Program Opens Today

$500 Million California Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Program Opens Today

Could your Elk Grove or Sacramento small business or nonprofit use some financial help right now? If, like thousands of local small businesses and nonprofits still reeling from the most recent Coronavirus related shutdowns, the answer is yes, you’re in luck. Today, the California Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Program opens with nearly $500 Million in financial aid. Depending on your revenue, you could be eligible for $1,000 to $25,000 in assistance. To help answer questions and guide businesses and nonprofits through the application process, recently state officials launched the website, along with a series of free virtual grant workshops. The state also released an all business application guide, as well as an all nonprofit application guide.

The much needed aid is part of a larger package of financial relief announced by Governor Newsom earlier this month. In addition to the grant program, eligible businesses can now defer their sales taxes, access additional loans, tax credits for hiring, and more. This latest series of business relief efforts comes as the negative business impacts of this months new stay-at-home orders continue to reverberate across the state. It also comes against the backdrop of the pending federal stimulus Bill in Congress, signed by President Trump over the weekend, which is expected to bring additional financial help to struggling businesses.

Applications Open Today

When do the grant applications open? Applications for the first of two rounds of grant funding open today December 30th at 6AM PST. When do the grant applications close? First round applications close on January 8, 2021 at 11:59 PM PST. Is the process first-come first-serve? No! The application process is not first-come first-serve. If I apply in round one, when will I know whether or not I’ve been approved or denied the grant? According to, approval notifications go out January 13th, 2021. Since there are two rounds of funding, do i need to apply twice? No. “Applicants who submitted their application and all documentation in the first round do not need to reapply. Qualified applications are automatically rolled over into the next funding round for consideration.” This according to the grant program website. It is not yet clear when round two funding opens.

Is My Small Business Or Nonprofit Eligible?

According to program officials, any small business or nonprofit must satisfy certain eligibility criteria. These include the following:

  • Must meet the definition of an “eligible small business”. An “eligible small business” means (i) a “small business” (sole proprietor, independent contractor, 1099 work, and or registered “for-profit” business entity (e.g., C-corporation, S-corporation, limited liability company, partnership) that has yearly gross revenue of $2.5 million or less (but at least $1,000 in yearly gross revenue) based on most recently filed tax return) or (ii) a “small nonprofit” (registered 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(6) nonprofit entity having yearly gross revenue of $2.5 million or less (but at least $1,000 in yearly gross revenue) based on most recently filed Form 990)
  • Active businesses or nonprofits operating since at least June 1, 2019
  • Must currently be operating or have a clear plan to re-open once the State of California permits re-opening of the business
  • Impacted by COVID-19 and the health and safety restrictions such as business interruptions or business closures incurred as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Able to provide organizing documents including 2018 or 2019 tax returns or Form 990s, copy of official filing with the California Secretary of State, if applicable, or local municipality for the business such as one of the following: Articles of Incorporation, Certificate of Organization, Fictitious Name of Registration or Government-Issued Business License
  • Business must be able to provide acceptable form of government-issued photo ID
  • Applicants with multiple business entities, franchises, locations, etc. are not eligible for multiple grants and are only allowed to apply once using their eligible small business with the highest revenue

Ineligible businesses include businesses without a physical location in California, nonprofit businesses not registered as either a 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(6), and government entities, among others. Note that although businesses without a physical location are ineligible, home-based businesses are eligible for the program.

What Documents Will I Need To Apply And How Do I Apply?

Interested business owners must apply through one of the program partners listed on grant program website. The full list of partners can be found at Required documents include a signed certification, business financial information and a government issued photo ID. Required business financial information includes your most recent tax return filed (2019 or 2018), along with a copy of official filing with the California Secretary of State, if applicable, or local municipality for the business such as one of the following: Articles of Incorporation, Certificate of Organization, Fictitious Name of Registration or Government-Issued Business License.

How Will Grant Recipients Be Decided?

According to the program website, a business must satisfy the eligibility criteria and submit all the required documentation. Eligible businesses are then scored and ranked against several COVID-19 “Impact Factors”. Specifically, these factors include the following:

1. Geographic distribution based on COVID-19 health and safety restrictions following California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy and county status and the new Regional Stay At Home Order;
2. Industry sectors most impacted by the pandemic; and
3. Underserved small business groups served by the State supported network of small business centers (i.e., businesses majority owned and run on a daily basis by women, minorities/persons of color, veterans and businesses located in low-to-moderate income and rural communities). 

More About The New Business Grant Program

“As you all know, small businesses form the economic heart of every community. The State of California and CalOSBA are committed to ensuring all small businesses have access to the support, resources and capital they need – and this support is fundamental to California’s COVID-19 response. The $500 million California Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Program announced by the Governor and the Legislature provides that support through a network of partners to ensure reach to highly impacted small businesses in disadvantaged communities, underserved small business groups, and in geographies and industries disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 health and safety restrictions.”

California Office of the Small Business Advocate

To administer the massive new $500 Million program, California enlisted the help of Lendustry as its financial partner. According to its website, Lendistry is “a minority-led, technology-enabled CDFI and CDE small business and commercial real estate lender. Lendistry ranks second nationwide in SBA Community Advantage lending, providing responsible financing to small business owners and their underserved communities. Lendistry is a member of the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco, headquartered in a Los Angeles Opportunity Zone.”

The California Office of the Small Business Advocate in an email to announcing the new grant program said, “Lendistry is partnering with other Community Development Financial Institutions and technical assistance providers to help provide assistance to small businesses who might need 1:1 support before, during and after the application process.”

For more information visit

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About The Author

Chris Lodgson

Chris Lodgson our News & Events Editor. Chris is a researcher and regulatory analyst at a legal information company, where he creates and delivers legal content on current issues on a daily basis. Originally from New York City, he's also a local organizer, business owner, and social media-marketer supporting Sacramento County Black-owned businesses.


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