Need Money for an Angel or Entrepreneurship Program in Your Community? Check Out This Grant Program

By: Marianne Hudson, ACA Executive Director

The 2018 version of a US Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant competition may be just the ticket for multiple ACA members.  The Regional Innovation Strategies program offers a total of $21 million for locally-devised strategies to help more businesses start and grow.  As the program’s director, Craig Buerstatte, put it recently, the program is a “funding opportunity for business accelerators and incubators working to support job creation and economic development, and for venture fund managers, or angel groups working to address funding shortages in startup communities.” 

ACA members have been part of teams that have received these grants in the past, and we see opportunities for ACA members to benefit again in many ways:

  • Create a new angel group or seed fund
  • Initiate a program to attract more accredited investors to angel investing
  • Support education programs from your organization (or set of community entities) for entrepreneurs to become more successful
  • Bring new players to entrepreneurship and angel investing, growing the diversity of these audiences by gender, race, age, and underserved localities (rural areas for example)

All of the details for the Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS) program are in this “Notice of Funding Opportunity.” Proposals are due by August 29, and we recommend you start soon on your planning as there are some government platform requirements that take some time to complete.

It is important to understand that the RIS program is really two separate grant competitions:

  • i6 Challenge:  Supports a coalition of entrepreneurial support organizations to provide proof-of-concept and commercialization assistance to innovators and entrepreneurs.  Regional programs can be physical or virtual, existing or new.  EDA has set aside $16 million for this program, and grants can be up to $750,000 over three years.
  • Seed Fund Support Grant Competition:  Provides funding for planning and activities that lead to the formation of new seed funds that invest their capital in innovation-based startups or help existing angel funds grow or develop new activities.  Funds may also support operations of seed funds.  The total pool of funds for this program is $5 million, and maximum grant size is $300,000, also over three years.

If you are working on a proposal, please let me know.  ACA is happy to write letters of support for ACA members after some vetting to ensure the proposal meets the requirements of the RIS program.  And, ACA is also working on a proposal aimed at educating a diverse group of new angels and a marketing and PR program that helps more accredited investors know of the opportunity and joys of angel investing.  We want to grow the number of active and educated angels initially in one region, but we could also use tools we develop across the US and Canada.  Our aim is to support our members, bringing new angels to existing angel organizations and platforms, and creating new funds and groups.


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