A Nonprofit Business Accelerator Is Offering Grants to Veteran Small Business Owners

Again and again, year after year, if there’s one problem seasoned entrepreneurs face in getting their businesses off the ground, it’s access to capital. The Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University has been studying veterans’ barriers to entry since 2017, and capital is always the main theme.

Founders First, a non-profit organization with a mission to empower diverse groups of business owners and entrepreneurs, is offering grants to 25 seasoned small business owners to help alleviate some of their cash shortages.

Named for Stephen L. Tadlock, Navy veteran and brother of Founders First CEO Kim Folsom, the Tadlock Grant offers $1,000 in microinvestments to qualified business owners. To qualify, a business founder must be a US military veteran, have an active US business, and employ between two and 50 people.

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Applications are possible from now until October 18, 2022. Scholarship recipients will be announced on Veterans Day, November 11, 2022.

“American veterans give back to our country every day, and post-service, it is critical that they receive support from family, friends, and local communities to succeed in their post-service careers,” said Folsom, founder and CEO of Founders First said in a statement.

The Census Bureau’s 2021 Annual Business Survey found that veteran-owned businesses account for 5.9% of all businesses in the United States, employ 3.9 million workers and contribute an estimated $177 billion in annual payrolls. Other surveys found that ownership by experienced companies could be as high as 9.1%, employ six million Americans, and generate around $1 trillion in annual revenue.

According to the US Small Business Administration, veterans are 45% more likely than non-veterans to be self-employed. Access to capital has always been a difficult issue for this group, as it has for many entrepreneurs, but the global COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the problem.

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Founders First specifically targets entrepreneurs from underserved communities for grants and assistance such as the Stephen L. Tadlock Grant for US military veterans. Even if a seasoned entrepreneur does not make the final cut for this particular grant, they may still be eligible for one of Founders First’s other job creation grants.

The nonprofit organization offers other leadership and entrepreneurship education programs with rolling application deadlines. They vary in length from 60 days to three months and allow graduates to apply for other bar scholarships while learning to start or grow their business.

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In addition to the application requirements, veterans interested in the Stephen L. Tadlock Scholarship are asked to create a one- to three-minute self-produced pitch video as part of the process. Qualified experienced business owners can apply for the Veteran’s Grant on the Founders First website.

— Blake Stilwell can be reached at [email protected] He can also be found on Twitter @blakestilwell or on Facebook.

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