EMBRACE Grant for Vermont Microbusiness

In response to COVID-19, the Vermont Community Action Partnership and the Micro Business Development Program came together to establish the EMBRACE (Economic Micro Business Recovery Assistance for the COVID-19 Epidemic) direct grant program. Thank goodness for the acronym! 

EMBRACE issues $5,000 grants to businesses with five or fewer employees.

Upcoming Application Round

The EMBRACE grant will open for new applicant existing businesses on December 1, 2021 and will open for returning applicants on March 1, 2022.

Unlike previous rounds, EMBRACE grants will be available to start-up businesses - those who are seeking to open their own business through a special application process starting January 18, 2022.

The grants will be awarded on a first come, first served basis. Please plan on spending an hour completing the application form.  

***IN ORDER TO ACHEIVE GEOGRPAPHIC DISTRIBUTION, WE ARE CURRENTLY ONLY ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS FROM THOSE WHO ARE LOCATED IN FRANKLIN AND WINDSOR COUNTIES. IF YOU ARE NOT LOCATED IN EITHER OF THESE COUNTIES, PLEASE WAIT UNTIL THIS MESSAGE NO LONGER APPEARS TO APPLY. ***

Existing Businesses: APPLY TODAY

Start-Up Businesses: Click Here to Start the Process

Once you application is submitted, please allow up to 14 business days for application processing by a Grant Specialist.

  
For questions please contact Lindsey Woodie - (802) 445-1314 or LWoodie@broc.org


Qualifications for Existing Businesses

1a) You must be a Vermont state resident age 18 or older.

1b) Have an active Vermont-based micro business. Either your business was legally registered with the State of Vermont on or before 12/31/2021, or you've filed 2021, 2020 and/or 2019 tax returns with a schedule C and have documentation proving your current business status (Example: Current Financial Statements & Current business bank account statements).

2) Your household needs to have been negatively financially impacted by COVID-19.

3) Your household income must be at or below 80% of Vermont state median household income. Household Income includes all the funds available to support a household and includes both taxable and nontaxable income, includes all sources of income of any persons living in your household. This refers to individuals, including children, who lived in your home for any period of time during the year and who may or may not be related to you. For this application it DOES NOT include unemployment income. There is a table below to see if you qualify or the application will automatically calculate this based on income and the number of people living at your residence. This figure is based on the average of your last 12 months of income. 

4) Not be engaged in the following: Cannabis-related services (this includes CBD), Firearm Sales, Lobbying, Franchise / Chain, Consultant / Service Provider with exactly 1 client, Nonprofit organization.

5) Previous recipients of EMBRACE grant funding may apply starting 3/1/2022.

6) Have not received Covid-19 relief support through other American Rescue Plan Act-funded programs (for example; Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), VT Economic Bridge Grant, Sole Proprietor Stabilization Grant). If you've received other public funding to support your business through this pandemic, we encourage you to connect with us (see contacts for our grant specialist above) and confirm you're eligible. (You probably are, but best to check before you dive into this application.)

Qualifications for Start-Up Businesses

1) You must be a Vermont state resident age 18 or older.

2) Your household needs to have been negatively financially impacted by COVID-19.

3) Your household income must be at or below 80% of Vermont state median household income. Household Income includes all the funds available to support a household and includes both taxable and nontaxable income, includes all sources of income of any persons living in your household. This refers to individuals, including children, who lived in your home for any period of time during the year and who may or may not be related to you. For this application it DOES NOT include unemployment income. There is a table below to see if you qualify or the application will automatically calculate this based on income and the number of people living at your residence. This figure is based on the average of your last 12 months of income.

4) You must have a completed business plan including one-year financial projections prior to your application submission date. Your business plan will be reviewed as part of the grant application process. You will be contacted by the grant counselor once your assessment is complete.

5) You must completed a minimum of one hour of business counseling with a Vermont Micro Business Counselor prior to your application submission date. Business counseling is provided to you at no cost by The Micro Business Development Program. (The purpose of these sessions is to help you write a business plan if you do not have one, or, if you do, to ensure it is current and optimized. The counseling sessions must be completed, and your plan approved before the grant funds will be distributed. Additional counseling is available as needed.)

6) Can not be engaged in the following: Cannabis-related services (this includes CBD), Firearm Sales, Lobbying, Franchise / Chain, Consultant / Service Provider with exactly 1 client, Nonprofit organization.

7) Have not received Covid-19 relief support through other American Rescue Plan Act-funded programs (for example; Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), VT Economic Bridge Grant, Sole Proprietor Stabilization Grant). If you've received other public funding to support your business through this pandemic, we encourage you to connect with us (see contacts for our grant specialists below) and confirm you're eligible. (You probably are, but best to check before you dive into this application.)

                                             Qualifying Income


More about EMBRACE

•Vermont’s Micro Business Development Program, Project E.M.B.R.A.C.E. grant program is designed to assist underserved Vermont micro business owners that have been financially impacted by COVID-19.

•This program will provide grants of $5,000 to qualifying micro business owners on a first come, first served basis.

•You will be required to provide a list of how you will spend the grant funds based on COVID-19 and your business industry. These funds CAN NOT be used to reimburse any expense.

•The expense list will be verified by an administrative staff to ensure eligibility, appropriateness and completeness. If purchases exceed the funding amount ($5,000), details of the other funding source(s) will need to be verified.

•If approved for the grant you will be required to utilize the funds only for the listed expenses and will be required to show receipts for the purchases.

•Plan on allotting up to one full, uninterrupted hour to complete it. If you do not complete it in one sitting, your work will not be saved, and you will have to start over.

• You will be asked to provide a written narrative for some of the questions.

•Consider writing your answers before you sit down to complete the application.

•After funding is awarded, a follow-up survey will need to be completed by applicant. We may ask for a testimonial and a picture of you and your business at that time.


Frequently Asked Questions & Best Uses for Funds

Eligibility

(Q) Does unemployment count as income, for this grant?

(A) No.

(Q) Can I receive a grant if I have received or applied for other ARPA Funding?

(A) No.

(Q) Do I need 2019/2020 tax documents?

(A) No.

(Q) Do I need current financial statements?

(A) No.

(Q) Do I need to have a written business plan?

(A) No. Unless you are applying as a start-up business.

(Q) Can I apply for this grant even though I received one from another grantor within the last year?

(A) Yes, However, you may not receive funding for the same purpose or expense. You may receive EMBRACE Grant funds for the second time only if you apply after 3/1/2022.

(Q) I operate as a sole proprietorship under my own name and as a result do not have to register my business name with the VT Secretary of State. Is it a requirement that I must have my business registered with the VT Secretary of State to apply for this grant?

(A) No, you must have been registered with the state of Vermont as a legal business entity or Doing Business As (DBA) as of December 31st, 2020 or show proof of business activity through 2019/2020 taxes (schedule C).


Best Uses of Funds

•The Vermont Economic Recovery Grants are being issued to help provide economic support to your business, which has been impacted by the COVID-19 public health emergency.

•The funds can be used both to pay necessary expenditures that your business incurs, & costs directly associated to your business's response to COVID-19.

•These grant funds can not be used for expenses that were covered by funds received from another federal source. These funds should only be used for forward looking expenses, that were incurred after that period for which federal funds were issued.

(Q) Is there a time limit on when I can spend the grant?

(A) Yes. Eligible businesses must certify that they will spend all grant funds by November 30th, 2022.

(Q) Can the funds be used for personal bills?


(A) Funding CAN NOT be used to pay personal bills.

(Q) Can the funds be used for the purchase of new or used equipment?

(A) Yes, as long as the equipment is needed to operate their business and the purchase of that equipment was not possible due to a disruption of income from COVID-19 or the equipment was needed due to COVID-19 (such as a non-contact thermometer, new plexiglass to separate cashiers from customers, etc).

(Q) Can the funds be used for a business website?

(A) Yes, if the website is needed to operate their business and the purchase of that service was not possible due to a disruption in income from COVID-19 or was needed due to COVID-19 (i.e. to expand online retail or online marketing to win customer share).

(Q) Can the funds be used to pay for personal rent?

(A) Funding CAN NOT be used to pay any personal bills.

(Q) Can the funds be used to purchase or repair a vehicle?

(A) Yes, but the vehicle/equipment must be business specific and cannot be used for any vehicle/equipment that is also used for personal matters.

(Q) Can the funds be used for the purchase of inventory I need to make my product(s)?

(A) Yes, if the inventory is needed to operate their business and the purchase of that inventory was not possible due to a disruption in income from COVID-19 or the inventory was needed due to COVID-19 (such as a fabric to make masks, hand sanitizer, etc).

(Q) Can the funds be used to pay down personal debt?

(A) Funding CAN NOT be used to pay personal bills.

(Q) Can the funds be used to pay down business debt?

(A) No, funds cannot be used to pay for past expenses.

(Q) Can the funds be used as prepayment on a business lease (for space or equipment)?

(A) Yes, for the period up to November 30th, 2022 if making the prepayment was not possible due to a disruption in income from COVID-19 or the lease was needed due to COVID-19 (such as additional dining room space to accommodate new guidelines or additional manufacturing space to make a COVID-related product)

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