Facebook is helping small businesses rocked by the coronavirus with millions of dollars in grants and ad credits, but the window to apply is closing fast.
The social media behemoth unveiled its Small Business Grants Program March 17. It provides $100 million to qualifying small businesses across dozens of countries. Details about the program and eligibility trickled out over the course of a month.
In a Facebook post, Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg later specified that $40 million of the funds are earmarked for 10,000 U.S. businesses that operate “in 34 locations where our employees live and work.”
The maximum grant amount is $4,000 ― $2,500 in cash and $1,500 in optional Facebook ad credits.
Application deadlines by location:
- New York City and Seattle – May 2.
- San Francisco Bay area – May 4.
- All other eligible U.S. locations (listed below) – May 6.
Note: The application portal lists a May 8 deadline for all applications, regardless of location. Facebook did not clarify. To be safe, apply sooner than later.
Who’s Eligible for Facebook Small Business Grants?
The biggest two qualifiers for small businesses are size and location.
To be eligible to apply, your for-profit business must have:
- Between 2 and 50 employees.
- Been in business for more than a year.
- Experienced challenges due to the coronavirus.
- A location in or near a city where Facebook has an office.
The size requirement rules out many freelance businesses, and the locations are primarily in big cities or metropolitan areas.
While Sandberg mentioned 34 locations, the grant application page lumps them into the following 24 areas ― some including surrounding county and metro areas and some not:
- Altoona, Iowa (Polk County)
- Ashburn, Virginia (Loudoun County)
- Atlanta, Georgia (Fulton County)
- Austin, Texas (Travis County)
- Boston metro area
- Chicago (Cook County)
- Dallas (Dallas County)
- Detroit metro area
- Eagle Mountain, Utah (Utah County)
- Forest City, North Carolina (Rutherford County)
- Fort Worth, Texas (Tarrant County)
- Huntsville, Alabama (Madison County)
- Los Angeles metro area
- Newton County, Georgia, metro area
- Northridge, California
- Papillion, Nebraska (Sarpy County)
- Pittsburgh (Allegheny County)
- Prineville, Oregon (Crook County)
- Redmond, Washington
- Richmond, Virginia, metro area
- San Francisco metro area
- Seattle (King County)
- Washington, D.C.
Eligible small businesses can use the funds for workforce investments, rent, advertisement and other operational expenses.
How to Apply for a Facebook Grant
To apply, start with Facebook’s grant application guide, which will walk you through the basic eligibility requirements and the type of information you’ll need to provide during the application.
Input your location at the bottom of the guide, and it will funnel you to a partner website called Ureeka for the actual application. The Ureeka application will have you self-certify that you meet basic eligibility requirements.
Then you’ll be prompted to fill out six sections that go over basic information about your business: contact information, whether it’s minority- or veteran-owned and how long it’s been around.
The last two sections are the most important.
The “Use of Grant” portion requires you to respond to the following prompt:
“Based on how you answered the previous question, please further describe how your use of the grant would make an impact in your local community?”
Use your response to add color to your application.
For the final section, you must provide at least one proof of business, such as a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN), partnership documents, a business license, proof of incorporation or an official registration.
Facebook will take a few weeks to choose the top applicants. In the meantime, the selection committee may reach out with follow-up questions about your business.
Adam Hardy is a staff writer at Codetic. He covers the gig economy, entrepreneurship and unique ways to make money. Read his latest articles here, or say hi on Twitter @hardyjournalism.