Women-owned businesses throughout 10 western Wisconsin counties are eligible to apply for a new grant. Red Letter Grant is a nonprofit program designed to encourage more women to take risks and to lead in building a more innovative region and state. Originally focused on startups, the group has launched a relief fund to help existing businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The relief fund will prioritize minority women business owners: persons of color and the LGBTQA population. According to the Center for Responsible Lending, an estimated 90% of minority and women business owners were shut out of the Paycheck Protection Program, creating gaps in emergency funding. WEDC has also created the Small Business 20/20 Program and the Ethnic Minority Emergency Grant initiative to support small businesses and micro-enterprises adversely economically impacted by the COVID-19 virus.

The Red Letter relief fund is working to close gaps and support those who may not have qualified for those state or federal funding pipelines. To qualify for the relief fund grant, business owners must not have received federal or state relief aid in the pandemic thus far, and must have three or fewer employees. Minority-owned businesses will have priority in the grant process.

The group launched a fundraising campaign as part of Giving Tuesday to raise funds to be disbursed to 15 business in the form of $1,000 grants. A diverse judging team oversees the application process and conducts the interviews. The application deadline is May 18, 2020. Apply here.