Grant Program

The application cycle for the 2017-2018 BEACON Grant Program is now closed.

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.

Applications for the 2017-2018 grant cycle have closed.

Help us congratulate awardees for the 2017-2018 BEACON Grant Program!


Black Female Founders: To support women of color entrepreneurs in an eight-week pre-accelerator program that aims to build confidence, social capital, and community.

Black Girl Vision: To support a crowd-funded pitch competition connecting women of color entrepreneurs to capital, investors and business development support.

ByteBack: To complement ByteBack’s technical training programs with new programming focused on entrepreneurship for women entrepreneurs in underserved areas of D.C.

Canady Foundation for the Arts: To support the Miss Media Conference, a one-day conference educating and empowering young women of color to develop critical skills in media arts and connecting them to local women of color media entrepreneurs.

Cee Smith Media Group: To support “Hustle Camp”, a weekend-long training for LGBTQ entrepreneurs who operate within the creative arts sectors, innovate beyond the status quo and serve the queer community.

Design Choice: To create a "skills first" directory connecting D.C.'s women freelancers to job opportunities, helping to create new business opportunities and address the gender-pay gap.

District Mugs: To help improve the lives of homeless women in D.C. by increasing opportunities for consumers to purchase coffee mugs made by homeless women.

Francie Pants LLC: To support a workforce development program that offers free sewing classes and contracting opportunities in support of women’s financial independence.

Global Empowerment Solutions: To support “Holiday Hustle”, a full-service training and retail program that turns a six-week business development curriculum into a unique retail showroom that increases new business opportunities for women entrepreneurs.

HeraHub: To support a mentorship roadshow responding to women entrepreneurs’ challenges with time constraints, access to seasoned mentors, and the need for directly applicable advice.

MET Community: To support a cross-cultural program that inspires, connects and supports aspiring Latina women entrepreneurs in D.C. and connects them to African-American and Asian-American women-owned businesses in the area.

Nubian Hueman: To support an eight-week course teaching young girls in Wards 7 and 8 how to manufacture, market, merchandise and manage a fashion-related business.

Springboard Enterprises: To support a special series of "Dolphin Tank" pitch competitions that will partner with other diverse D.C.-based, women-serving organizations to expand the impact and reach of pitch competitions.

Tech Lady Hackathon 2017: To support a one-day event providing training, workshops and civic-hacking opportunities specific to women in tech.

TechMoxie: To support low-income women in geographic areas underrepresented by women-owned business for a six-class course in digital and social media literacy. 

The Black upStart: To support women of color entrepreneurs from Ward 8 in a three-week business development program that fuses culturally-relevant curriculum with go-to-market opportunities.

The Mentor Method: To create an online video and curriculum-based resource featuring local experts that will empower non-technical women founders to create products and navigate the entrepreneurial landscape.

Walker's Legacy Foundation: To ensure women entrepreneurs have childcare while attending a mom-focused entrepreneurship training program.

Zora & Amelia: To support pop-up retail opportunities for women-owned business in D.C.


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:

  1. 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? 
  2. "Women-Led": Is your C-suite or executive leadership comprised of at least 51% women or persons who identify as women?*
  3. "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:

  1. Does your proposal demonstrate how your organization plans to address at least one of BEACON’s core areas?
    1. Expanding women entrepreneurs’ access to capital
    2. Providing resources and support for women entrepreneurs
    3. Creating new business opportunities for women entrepreneurs
    4. Inspiring the next generation of women entrepreneurs 
  2. Does your proposed project encompass all of the following?
    1. Improves resources and opportunities for women entrepreneurs in D.C.
    2. Operates inclusively, benefiting diverse women across the D.C. community;
    3. Fills an unmet or undermet need (i.e. does not replicate existing programs);
    4. Has a concrete budget, scope of work and timeline;
    5. Includes clearly defined goal(s) and metrics for success
  3. 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?