2018-2019 BEACON Grant Program
The 2018-2019 BEACON Grant Program awarded $50,000 to Ecosystem Builder Organizations that designed innovative and inclusive approaches to supporting women entrepreneurs in Washington, DC. Through the grant program, BEACON aims to support programs that reach underserved populations of women entrepreneurs, expand women's access to capital and resources, and create a coalition of women entrepreneurs who support each other's success.
Ecosystem Builders "drive long-term change by supporting innovation and entrepreneurs." "They work for more startups and fewer barriers for the makers, the doers and the dreamers." Ecosystem builders are entrepreneurs, students, economic developers, politicians, grassroots community organizers, academics, corporate leaders, and journalists - just to name a few. They are non-profit organizations and for-profit companies that express a common goal to solve challenges facing underestimated founders while amplifying their businesses, celebrating their triumphs and investing in their potential.
While the rate of new business creation continues to rise, the ability to scale women-owned firms is stifled by lower rates of employment, sales and revenue. How can we not only help create - but also scale women-owned businesses? How can we diversify the industries within which they are represented? How can we close funding and revenue gaps experienced by new majority founders? How can we amplify the existence of women-owned businesses in order to attract new customers and larger markets?
The 2018-2019 Grant Program aimed to answer these and other questions through practical solutions impacting local women business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs. BEACON awarded grants in tiers of $10,000, $5,000 and $2,500 to women-led, DC-based organizations and initiatives who propose creative solutions to challenges faced by women entrepreneurs.
FreeTruth Financial, Inc.: SecureTheBag Financial Literacy and Entrepreneurship (FLYE) Accelerator: A four-week financial literacy and entrepreneurship bootcamp series concluding with a crowdfunded pitch competition for low-income women of color in Wards 7 and 8. The program will be produced in partnership with a number of DC-based local businesses including Peace Rides, Meals of Dopeness, SweetLove & Liberty and more.
Workafrolic: Mompreneur Mastermind Program: An eight-week, peer-led support and training program tailored to women entrepreneurs with children and businesses under four years old.
The Gemz, Inc.: Developing the Next Generation of Female Entrepreneurs and Innovators: A workshop-based series providing mentorship, curriculum and the “Next Generation Business Fair” to middle and high-school girls in Washington, DC.
Cureate: The DC Women Vendors Fair: An initiative connecting DC-based, women-owned food and beverage businesses to corporate and institutional buyers.
EnrichHER: EnrichHER + Intent Manifesto’s Investor Bootcamp: A program that builds a community of empowered, savvy and investment literate community of women who can direct investment capital into women-led businesses.
Latino Economic Development Center: LEDC Development Technical Assistance Supporting: Ongoing training and services that provide low-to-moderate income women entrepreneurs with business and leadership development, financial capability and lending services.
SEED SPOT: Two-Day Launch Camp for Women Entrepreneurs: A hands-on workshop empowering idea-stage, impact-driven ventures in STEM. This workshop will be produced in partnership with the Association of Women in Science and the Vinetta Project.
Street Entrepreneurs: The Talent Exchange Project- Pursuing Equity in Entrepreneurship: An app-based platform utilizing the social, professional and intellectual capital of the community to equip budding entrepreneurs with incentive-based skill swaps.
Halcyon: Halcyon Fast Forward Lecture Series: A free, accessible series featuring female entrepreneurs and visionaries.
Hera Hub DC: Mentorship Roadshow #2 - Access to Sales: A one-day program connecting women entrepreneurs to networks, skills and sales pipelines.
The Outrage: “We Run This” for Women Entrepreneurs supports an existing female-founded retail and social space providing monthly opportunities for DC womxn-identifying entrepreneurs to connect, engage and support one another.
Goals of the BEACON Grant Program
- 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 of DC's eight wards.
The 2018-2019 BEACON Grant Program is intended for women-led, DC-based organizations and initiatives who propose creative solutions to challenges faced by women entrepreneurs. Organizations are "women-led" if there is at least one woman-identifying founder or co-founder, and/or the C-Suite or executive leadership comprises at least 50% women or women-identifying individuals.
Through the Grant Program, BEACON aims to support programs that reach underserved populations of women entrepreneurs, expand women's access to capital and resources, 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 qualify under the "IMPACT" tier by using partnerships should attempt to confirm the partnership before submitting their application.
- Applicants must be registered on the BEACON Directory as either a woman-owned business or a resource for women-owned businesses.
- Applicants must be legally incorporated as either a for-profit or non-profit entity. Individuals (including sole-proprietors) and fiscally-sponsored initiatives are ineligible to apply.
- Qualified organizations should demonstrate how they would address at least one of the following pillars (deemed "categories" on the official application):
- 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 all of the following criteria:
- Improves resources and opportunities for women entrepreneurs in DC;
- Operates inclusive, benefiting diverse women across the DC 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.
- Partnerships among DC-based organizations are strongly encouraged but are not required.
- If ultimately selected for a BEACON Grant Award, applicants will have to obtain a Clean Hands Certification Form from DC Government. Certification is not required to apply but is required if ultimately selected to receive a BEACON Grant Award. Applicants can obtain this certification online and few a full overview of the process here.
Use of Funds
BEACON will distribute up to $50,000 total, segmented into three tiers: $10,000, $5,000 and $2,500.
Funds may be used to implement innovative programming, provide direct resources to women entrepreneurs, and/or support general operating expenses for organizations aligned with at least one of BEACON's four pillars: (1) expanding access to capital, (2) providing resources and support, (3) generating new business opportunities, and (4) inspiring the next generation. Awardees will have one-year from the date of disbursement in order to implement their grant award.
June 27: Applications open with Grant Launch Program @ We Work 80 M SE
July 31 (11:59 pm EST): Application deadline
On or around August 8: Notice sent to all eligible applicants that have advanced to the Community Voting Round
August 13: Community Voting Begins
August 25: Community Voting Ends
August 25-September 21: BEACON Grant Selection Committee scores and selects awardees
Late September: BEACON Awardees publicly announced
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.
- Projects to promote inclusion of underrepresented groups such as senior entrepreneurs; working moms; people with disabilities; the LGBTQI community; or residents of underserved wards.
Click here to view previous awardees.
How do I determine if my organization is eligible to apply for a grant?
Your organization is 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?
- Composition: Is your company or organization "women-led"? Organizations are "women-led" if there is at least one woman-identifying founder or co-founder, and/or the C-Suite or executive leadership comprises at least 50% women or women-identifying individuals.
- Placement: 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.
4. Affiliation: Is your organization registered on the BEACON Directory as either a woman-owned business or a resource for women-owned businesses?
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?
No, individuals are ineligible for funding. Awards will only be made to legally incorporated entities (non-profit organizations or for-profit companies).
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. Partnerships could include but are not limited to co-sponsorship, co-production, funding, hosting, etc.
I'm partnering with another company/organization. Can we submit separate applications?
BEACON will not review duplicate applications, even if submitted from separate entities. If multiple applicants submit the same application, BEACON will review and score the first application that is submitted. If using partnerships, we encourage you to determine and identify the strongest applicant before submitting.
Can I use the BEACON grant to start a new organization?
BEACON grant funds are not intended for use starting new organizations. However, if you would like to start a new initiative or program, we advise you to partner with an existing organization that could qualify for funding.
Can I use the BEACON grant for operational 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 will the BEACON grant not fund?
The BEACON Grant will not be issued to individual entrepreneurs or sole-proprietors who are not legally incorporated as either a for-profit company or non-profit organization.
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.
Applicants are first reviewed and assessed by BEACON to determine eligibility. Eligible applicants will then advance to the Community Voting Round. The winner of the Community Voting Round will receive a two-hour "Hack Your Business" strategy session with Pipeline Angels DC, a three-month Gold Membership package at Hera Hub DC (including a 80 hrs/month hot desk, $90/month in room booking credits, two guest passes, and access to all member events), a feature on the "Get Found, Get Funded Podcast," and special recognition at the BEACON Grant Awards.
All applicants that advance to the Community Voting Round will be reviewed and scored by the BEACON Grant Selection Committee to determine final awards.
Awards will be announced in September 2018.
If selected, what metrics will I be required to report?
Awardees are expected to furnish quarterly reports after the disbursement of funds. Specific metrics will vary based on the structure of projects. Details of reporting requirements will be shared with grant recipients.
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.
I have further questions. How do I get in touch?
Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org