The portal, funded by Wells Fargo, is intended to help small businesses and nonprofits thrive again in the city and is part of Houston's Fund for Social Justice and Equity, which works to invest in resources that benefit communities of color.
The portal was announced during a July 26 press conference featuring board members from the fund and Arcy Muñoz, vice president of social impact, sustainability and public affairs for Greater Houston at Wells Fargo. Grants will be delivered over a three-year period and are estimated to be able to help over 500 small businesses and nonprofits in the Houston area.
According to a July 26 release, Wells Fargo’s contribution is part of its $420 million Open for Business fund, which was created in response to the small businesses that were disproportionately affected by the pandemic.
During the press conference, Winell Herron, the fund's communications chair, said businesses and nonprofits will have the opportunity to apply for grants that range from $10,000 to $65,000.
Board President Thomas Jones said the grants are being given out are for “tangible asset acquisitions”—such as help with buying land, buildings or equipment. To qualify, a business or nonprofit must be in the Houston area with 50 employees or fewer, be led by people of color and have been established by Dec. 31, 2021.
According to Mayor Sylvester Turner, who is also the chair and co-founder of the fund, the fund will help keep the dreams of small businesses alive in the city. Around 97% of businesses in the Houston area have fewer than 500 employees, Turner said, while 35% of businesses with 50 or fewer employees are minority owned.
“Small businesses have an enormous impact for many communities throughout our city,” Turner said during the press conference. "These small businesses are their lifeline and what makes an area special.”
Gena Jerkins, executive director of the fund, said sample applications are available on the fund’s website in English, Spanish, Vietnamese and Mandarin. She said there are plans to hold informational sessions for those applying.
Before attending, Jerkins advised small businesses and nonprofits fill out a sample application so they can come to the sessions with questions.
“It is indeed a competition,” Jones said. “I would love to say we could accommodate everyone, but we can’t.”
Applications for the grants will end Aug. 23 at 11:59 p.m. More information can be found here.