Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Cambodia4kids.org Beth Kanter
The demand for excellent and affordable childcare is consistently high. The importance of early learning and school readiness cannot be undervalued. Parents working outside the home rely on quality daycare. For minorities seeking to start up a daycare business, local and federal grants are available to assist you in your philanthropic endeavor.
Grants, unlike loans, are funds awarded to prospective business owners that do not need to be paid back. Minority grants are available for underserved categories such as single mothers and African Americans. Two types of grants include nonprofit and for-profit. Nonprofit grants are easier to obtain. Connecting the grant to the community via an early learning initiative such as school readiness will increase your chances of procuring both for-profit and nonprofit grants for a daycare business.
Despite the desire to start a daycare business, the fear of failure can be a deterrent. Fortunately, small businesses are encouraged and supported. For example, President Obama instituted the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) on February 17, 2009 in order to stimulate the economy by offering $787 billion for federal and state agencies and small business rejuvenation. Additionally, at the 2009 Minority Business Summit, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke explained that the Minority Business Development plans to "increase number of small businesses in ethnic communities" to "create 16 million jobs." The development and support of small businesses is most often perceived as positive growth for the nation, and thus the chances of procuring a grant are good.
Grants for women and minorities can be found at Women's Business Grants. A state-by-state guide is available that will link you to the funding agency within your state. Minority grants for African Americans, Native Americans, disabled and single mothers are included on the site. Grants of $100 to $5,000 are awarded with all types of businesses encouraged.
The Minority Business Development Agency is another useful site that includes a grant search by location and type. It also features a discussion forum that allows you to network with other entrepreneurs and prospective business owners. For local state and city funding, contact your state representative and inquire about minority funding sources for your particular business.
The Foundation Center has a list of top funding agencies such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (awarding up to $38 million in grants). Although these philanthropic funders do not offer grants to individuals, you could connect to a community or larger agency such as Head Start. Early Learning and School Readiness are two national initiatives that you could include in your grant proposal that would increase your chances of procuring a more generous grant.
After finding the right grant, you will need to apply. Including goals, detailed expenses and a purpose are essential. Writing clearly and precisely about what you propose to accomplish with the grant and your business is important. Research the demographics of your area so you can refer to the community and explain how your business will benefit families. For instance, if you are applying for a grant for women, you would want to explain how you will help working mothers (single or married) with daycare costs. If your business will be located in a high-risk urban area, you could discuss school readiness or your goals for increasing literacy in preschoolers. Make sure you follow the proper format when witing the grant. It is your first impression, and a poorly written grant could result in a lost opportunity.
Elizabeth Brown holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Connecticut and a Master of Arts in education from Saint Joseph College in West Hartford, Connecticut. She began writing professionally in 2004 and has published op-eds and letters in the Hartford Courant and other local journals. She is currently a Hartford Public Schools Examiner.