We know many convicted felons are aspired to start their own business upon release. In this connection, a small business grant can help them to land the business concept into reality. However, you will not find too many small business grants for ex-felons. Even so, there are some federal grants and federally guaranteed loans available for them.

The biggest benefit of these small business grants is the business owners don’t have to pay them back. Because of this benefit, felons could face huge competition during the grant application process. This article will explore these grants for ex-felons that can help them to start their own businesses.


Grants.gov is the place where you can find more than1000 federal grant opportunities for small business owners. All of these grant options aim to help every small business owner to expand their businesses. Although it is not designed particularly for felons, they can take advantage of this grant.

But how will they apply for these grants? Well, at first, they have to create a workspace account with all the necessary information. Then, they can search for grants that match perfectly with their eligibilities and requirements. After that, they have to apply for that grant online.


GrantWatch is a non-profit organization that offers many funding options for small business owners. It features approximately 1200 small business grants out of a total of 28,000 grant programs. Fortunately, a criminal record will not cause any harm to the grant application. So, any individual with a felony conviction can take advantage of these grants for ex-felons. However, the individual has to subscribe to GrantWatch to avail of these grants. The company offers several membership plans that vary from $18 per week to $199 per year. Besides, it offers a free trial for new members. In a free trial, you can have limited information about some grant programs completely free. But to apply for those, you have to buy a subscription plan.

FedEx Small Business Grant Contest

This business grant contest is designed for any US-based for-profit small businesses with an employee strength of 1-99.  It aims to offer grants of up to $50,000 to ten small businesses that become winners. Apart from these ten winners, it also provides grants of up to $20,000 to other winners.

Fortunately, it has no issue to fund those businesses that are run by an ex-felon. So, as an ex-felon, you can participate in the grant contest and receive the grant by becoming the winner. However, the entry period for this contest expires in 2022. But you can check all the eligibility criteria on their official website. This will definitely help you prepare for the next round of contests.

State and Regional Small Business Grants

Apart from all the above grants for ex-felons, there are some small business grants available for them. The state where you reside may offer some additional small business grants through various organizations, including:

  • Local churches or other religious organizations
  • Economic development centers
  • State government websites

These grant programs usually aim to help small businesses to start or grow. Most of them do not exclude people with felony records. So, you can take advantage of these grant programs as an ex-felon. All you have to do is to have a close look on the internet.

Final Thoughts

Apart from these grants, you can find many loan programs to help small businesses to grow. As an ex-felon, you might face barriers that could make it really difficult to be eligible for business funding. However, depending on your current situation, you may find some business grants for ex-felons that work best for you. These grants will help create second chance jobs for felons in the form of small businesses.

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