BEACON Grant Program: 2017-2018
The 2017-2018 BEACON Grant Program will award one-time grants of $500-$10,000 to women-led organizations based in Washington D.C. to fund projects and initiatives that support D.C.-based women entrepreneurs.
While women's entrepreneurship is on the rise, women still face disproportionate challenges gaining access to capital and other resources that businesses need to thrive. For this reason, the BEACON grant program is designed to incentivize collaboration, inclusiveness, and innovation within D.C.'s entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Organizations are encouraged to submit proposals for a new project or the expansion of an existing project, that will improve resources and opportunities for D.C.-area women entrepreneurs. Applicants are encouraged to partner with other organizations or individuals to develop collaborative proposals that take advantage of the vibrant D.C. community.
Applications will be accepted via the BEACON website between June 1st and July 15th. However, we invite you to preview the application and begin to prepare your submission today!
BEACON Grant Program Goals
- Facilitate partnerships between DC-based organizations that support women entrepreneurs
- Collaborate with leading organizations to continue to develop our ability to identify ecosystem challenges and address them through network connections and resource-based support
- Create a coalition of women entrepreneurs who support each other’s success
- Fund organizations supporting women entrepreneurs who have not previously received funding
- Fund awards that impact women in each Ward
The 2017-2018 BEACON Grant Program is intended for women-led*, nonprofit, for-profit or fiscally-sponsored, DC-based initiatives and organizations with creative solutions to challenges faced by women entrepreneurs. Through the Grant Program, BEACON intends to reach underserved populations of women entrepreneurs, expand their access to capital, and create a coalition of women entrepreneurs who support each other’s success.
- Awards are limited to organizations that are “DC-based” as defined by at least one of the following:
- LOCATION: The organization’s principal office, CEO or high-level management is housed in DC. Organizations are not required to be headquartered in DC but must base their operations within the District. Applicants qualifying under “LOCATION” will have preference over those with no direct tie to DC.
- IMPACT: The organization has demonstrated impact in DC (examples may include but are not limited to present, current or future programming, established partnerships, etc.). Applicants qualifying under this tier will be asked to elaborate in their application. Organizations planning to use partnerships to qualify under the “IMPACT” tier, should attempt to confirm the partnership before applying to the grant program.
- Organizations must be registered on the BEACON Directory.
- Qualified organizations should demonstrate how they would address at least one of the following issues:
- Expand women entrepreneurs’ access to capital
- Provide resources and support for women entrepreneurs
- Create new business opportunities for women entrepreneurs
- Inspire the next generation of women entrepreneurs
- Proposed projects should demonstrate how they will address each of the following criteria:
- Improve resources and opportunities for women entrepreneurs in D.C.;
- Operate inclusively, benefiting diverse women across the D.C. community;
- Fill an unmet or undermet need (i.e. not replicate existing programs);
- Have a concrete budget, scope of work and timeline;
- Include clearly defined goal(s) and metrics for success
Partnerships among DC-based organizations are strongly encouraged but are not required.
Use of Funds
Funds may be used to implement innovative programming, provide direct resources to women entrepreneurs, and/or general operational support. Funds will not be granted to individual entrepreneurs. Organizations, or individuals with fiscal sponsorships, are eligible for this award.
Grant Overview and Timeline
One-time grants of $500-$10,000 will be made to women-led organizations based in Washington, DC to fund projects and initiatives that support DC-based women entrepreneurs.
Initial grant review will be conducted by the BEACON Board, with finalist evaluations computed in conjunction with community voting.
Applications Available for Download: May 20th
Applications Accepted: June 1st - July 15th
Applications Close: July 15th
Community Voting Opens: August 1st
Community Voting Closes: August 30th
Grants Awarded: September 15th
Grant Implementation Period: Date funds are dispersed through one-year after the disbursement date
Grant Review/Impact Assessment: Quarterly, following fund disbursements
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the goals of the BEACON Grant Program?
- To encourage partnerships between DC-based organizations that support women entrepreneurs
- To collaborate with leading organizations in addressing challenges to the DC entrepreneurial ecosystem through network-building and resource-allocation
- To create a coalition of women entrepreneurs who support each other’s success
- To fund organizations supporting women entrepreneurs who have not previously received funding
- To fund awards that impact women in each of DC’s eight wards
Can you provide examples of the types of projects that BEACON would like to fund?
Examples of programs/initiatives that meet program criteria could include but are not limited to:
- A new partnership for women-focused pitch competition to attract diverse participants across all eight wards.
- A mentor-mentee matching program with high school or college students to encourage entrepreneurship careers.
- Free or reduced price digital literacy classes or other training that improve on existing training programs in DC.
- Projects to promote inclusion of underrepresented groups such as older entrepreneurs; working moms; people with disabilities; the LGBTQI community; or residents of underserved wards.
How do I determine if my organization is eligible to apply for a grant?
You are eligible for this grant if you can answer “YES” to each of the following questions:
- Formation: Are you a non-profit organization, a for-profit company, or do you have a fiscal sponsor that is one of those two things?
- "Women-Led": Is your C-suite or executive leadership comprised of at least 51% women or persons who identify as women?*
- "DC-based" Is your company or organization based in DC as defined either by “LOCATION” or “IMPACT”?
- LOCATION: The organization’s principal office, CEO or high-level management is housed in DC. Organizations are not required to be headquartered in DC but must base their operations within the District. Applicants qualifying under “LOCATION” will have preference over those with no direct location in DC.
- IMPACT: The organization has a demonstrated impact in DC (examples may include but are not limited to present, current or future programming, established partnerships, etc.) and the proposed project is designed to focus on DC-based women entrepreneurs. Applicants qualifying under this tier must explain their impact in the District, pointing to concrete examples.
What would make a strong grant proposal?
You will likely have a strong grant proposal if you can answer “YES” to each of the following questions:
- Does your proposal demonstrate how your organization plans to address at least one of BEACON’s core areas?
- Expanding women entrepreneurs’ access to capital
- Providing resources and support for women entrepreneurs
- Creating new business opportunities for women entrepreneurs
- Inspiring the next generation of women entrepreneurs
- Does your proposed project encompass all of the following?
- Improves resources and opportunities for women entrepreneurs in D.C.
- Operates inclusively, benefiting diverse women across the D.C. community;
- Fills an unmet or undermet need (i.e. does not replicate existing programs);
- Has a concrete budget, scope of work and timeline;
- Includes clearly defined goal(s) and metrics for success
- Does your proposal involve a partnership with another DC-based organization? (suggested but not required.
Must I live in DC in order to apply for the grant?
See above for "How do I determine if my organization is eligible to apply for a grant?"
Do you fund individual applicants?
The BEACON grant program only funds organizations (see above for "How do I determine if my organization is eligible to apply for a grant?"). An individual who wants to submit a project proposal should identify an organization to serve as its fiscal sponsor.
What is a fiscal sponsor?
A fiscal sponsor is a non-profit organization that offers its legal and tax-exempt status to groups engaged in activities related to the organization’s mission. It typically involves a fee-based contractual arrangement between a project and an established non-profit. The sponsor then provides fiduciary oversight, financial management, and other administrative services to help build the capacity of the project.
Am I required to solidify a partnership with a DC-based organization before I submit the application?
No. However, applicants that plan to partner with another DC-based organization will be evaluated more favorably.
What if I want to use the BEACON grant to start a new organization?
Because of the limited grant amount, BEACON grant funds are not intended for use starting new organizations. However, if you would like to start a new initiative or program and operate independently (without being formally incorporated), we encourage you to secure a fiscal sponsor to support your application.
Can I use grant funds for general operations support?
Yes, funds may be used to support general operating expenses. However, this should be factored into the programmatic budget and not be the sole reason for applying.
What do you specifically not fund?
The BEACON Grant will not be issued to individual entrepreneurs or sole-proprietors who do not have an organizational fiscal sponsor to administer funds.
How will BEACON assess my application?
Applicants are assessed based on their alignment with eligibility criteria, BEACON’s core pillars, and goals of the grant program as described above. Applications are first reviewed and assessed by the BEACON Board. Finalists will then advance to the Community Voting Round. Results of community voting will be considered but not solely determinative in the ultimate selection of grantees.
How many grants will be awarded?
BEACON will award as many grants between $500 and $10,000 as there are deserving applicants, up to the full disbursement amount of $50,000.
How long do I have to implement the grant?
Awardees will have one-year from the disbursement of grant funds to implement the proposed project.
If selected, what metrics will I be required to report?
Awardees are expected to furnish quarterly reports after the disbursement of funds. Details of reports will be shared with grant recipients.
I have further questions: how do I get in touch?