We're Here for You, Central Minnesota: COVID-19 Updates


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Initiative Quarterly

COVID-19 Relief Grant Opportunity


Microenterprise Grants

Pandemic Recovery Funding for Central Minnesota Small Businesses

The Initiative Foundation is pleased to announce a special one-time round of funding to invest in Central Minnesota's smallest businesses as they work to recover from the pandemic.

Thanks to a special grant from the Otto Bremer Trust, one-time grants of up to $10,000 will be awarded to businesses that suffered pandemic-related disruptions and losses. This $500,000 program is designed to support fair economic recovery in Central Minnesota by focusing on small businesses that face barriers accessing capital and resources and which suffered setbacks during the pandemic.

This program is designed to support microenterprises with five or fewer full-time employees and less than $750,000 in annual gross revenue. The effort will prioritize …

  • businesses owned by women, veterans, and community members of color
  • businesses located in small towns and rural areas
  • businesses that opened just prior to or in the early stages of the pandemic
  • businesses that did not access or were not eligible for prior government COVID relief programs.

The application will open on May 9 and will close at noon on Friday, June 10. Businesses without full-time employees may receive up to $5,000, and businesses with full-time employees may be eligible for up to $10,000.

application link

Spanish Poster          Somali Poster

Click on one of the following links to view a sample application in EnglishSomali or Spanish. The application is powered by Foundant, a third-party platform used by the Initiative Foundation for its grantmaking processes. It will feature an eligibility quiz prior to displaying the actual application. The eligibility quiz will ask applicants to affirm that their business is not a nonprofit, church or faith-based organization, or public entity or unit of government. It also will ask applicants to affirm that their business does not ...
  • derive income from passive and/or speculative investments
  • engage in pyramid sales, with sales made by an increasing number of participants
  • engage in gambling
  • engage in activities prohibited by federal or applicable local or state law.

Join Virtual Q&A Session

Public question-and-answer sessions will be offered via the Zoom videoconferencing platform from 4 to 5 p.m. on Thursday, June 2. The recording will be available for online viewing. Applicants will be able to get questions answered and receive access to free technical support in preparing for and applying to this program. Awards will be made by late June.

May 17 Recording          June 2 Session

View the Videos to Learn More

Use of Funds

Funds can be used for a range of past, current or future expenses. This could include operational expenses such as payroll, mortgage, rent or utilities, equipment and supplies, inventory, and other expenses. Additional eligible expenses could include cleaning, equipment, supplies, or infrastructure, or it could offset pandemic-related costs such as digital technologies, website and online infrastructure, marketing to new customers, health and safety upgrades, and others. Owners simply need to make the case that their investment will support the health and viability of their business.

We anticipate rewarding up to 70 small business grants and expect this to be a highly competitive grant cycle in which we will be unable to fund every inquiry. Applications will be scored based on the priorities outlined above and on the following eligibility requirements:

  • The business is considered a microenterprise, with five or fewer full-time employees and annual gross revenue less than $750,000.
  • The business owner can demonstrate annual revenue of at least $25,000.
  • The business is owned and operated by resident(s) of, and physically located within, the Initiative Foundation's region of 14 counties and two sovereign tribal nations in Central Minnesota.
  • The business was operating during the pandemic and is currently open.
  • The business owner is able to demonstrate at least one impact caused by the pandemic such as closure orders, loss of revenue, increased costs, etc.

For questions or to request support to apply for this program, please send an email to relief_funds(at)ifound.org or call the Initiative Foundation at (320) 632-9255.



Ismail Mohamed
Enterprise Academy Program Officer


Jessy Beto
Program Specialist
(320) 631-2057


Brian Voerding
Vice President
for Inclusive Entrepreneurship
(320) 631-2006