Chanel Stitt Detroit Free Press
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) "ProsperUs" Detroit is a program that helps to empower entrepreneurs by providing training programs and funding opportunities. The COVID-19 pandemic has left business owners feeling uncertain because they don't know how long it will last and how severe it will get. This is why ProsperUs is stepping forward to help with this new Grant Program.
Businesses owned by people of color can now apply for $5,000 grants from Black Leaders Detroit and Prosper US Detroit.
Flagstar Bank distributed $1 million to local organizations in Michigan, Indiana and California that will be awarded to small businesses that have been affected by COVID-19. Michigan businesses will receive funding from a pool of $650,000 and $200,000 is reserved for Native American businesses. When it comes to Detroit organizations, ProsperUS Detroit will award 18 grants from its $100,000 pool and Black Leaders Detroit will award 36 from its $200,000 pool.
Dwan Dandridge, CEO and co-founder of Black Leaders Detroit, said creating a fund for people of color is needed during such a tough year.
"I think that it's going to take a lot more to position us well as a city to support the businesses that are out there," said Dandridge. "One of the things that often happens in the work that we do, you'll find that the money is one thing, but for people of color, knowing that this was created with you in mind gives hope."
The COVID-19 pandemic has left business owners feeling uncertain because they don't know how long it will last and how severe it will get, said Matthew Bihun, loan fund manager at ProsperUS.
"All of these businesses have already suffered since March, for the last eight months without an end in sight," said Bihun. "It's a scary proposition as an entrepreneur to be in this environment where the future is uncertain." More: Michigan small businesses receive nearly $100M in CARES Act grants, state says
More: New trade school coming to the Hope Village neighborhood in Detroit Flagstar Bank chose these two organizations in Detroit to distribute the grants because of their market knowledge of the community, said Beverly Meek, director of community reinvestment at Flagstar Bank. The company's customers are eligible to apply for grants, as well.
"I feel this funding is a real lifeline for these businesses," Meek said in an email statement. "And given the strong response we’ve had, I think we’ve hit at the heart of a huge need. Larger businesses can do things like trim staff, reduce operating hours, swap out products, etc., to stay viable. Many small businesses are already operating on super-tight margins with the fewest employees possible and don’t have the flexibility to adapt the way larger businesses do. There’s also the timing factor. With the holidays coming, the grants will provide much needed capital to help these businesses prepare for the season that many of them depend on to carry them through the year."
The two-page application for the grant closes Friday, Nov. 20, at 5 p.m., and recipients will be notified Dec. 4. The application is available in English and Spanish.
Applicants must submit a finished application, the most recent tax filing, two months of bank statements, a Certificate of Good Standing and a W-9. The business needs to have been in existence for a year or longer and annual revenues cannot be more than $1 million.
In spring 2021, Flagstar Bank will distribute another $1 million to nonprofits that advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion, said Meek. Black Leaders Detroit is a nonprofit that provides capital to organizations and businesses in the city. Much of the organization's financial distributions comes from a fund where people can commit to donating $1 a week. The goal is to have one million people participating in the donation fund. To submit an application for a grant from Black Leaders Detroit, apply at https://blackleadersdetroit.org/bld-flagstar-bipoc-grant.html.
ProsperUs Detroit is a Southwest Solutions program that helps to empower entrepreneurs by providing training programs and funding opportunities. The program also works with community organizations to bring entrepreneurship training to neighborhoods, with a focus on people of color, immigrants, refugees and formerly incarcerated citizens. To apply for a grant from ProsperUs Detroit, visit
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