In this new era of technology and social networking, many entrepreneurs have begun bypassing traditional methods of funding for various projects. One such source of funding, the grant, is often overlooked. This may be because grant funding usually requires very specific criteria and an arduous application process. However, there are still many grants that go unclaimed every year. Check out the following to see if one of your projects qualifies.


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Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE)

Outside the City of Chicago, one of Illinois’ most prevalent businesses is agriculture. The Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program provides grant funding in many states, including Illinois. These grants are intended to encourage the use of sustainable techniques, which may be able to help your business save money in the long run. The full list of grants available in Illinois are accessible online.

Women and Minorities in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Fields Grant Program (WAMS)

In an effort to encourage more women and minorities to enter the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields, the USDA has issued grant funding to small businesses with research and related projects. These grants are intended to give career opportunities to underrepresented communities in these fields. According to the USDA, “The goal of the WAMS program is to develop and implement robust collaborations to increase the representation, participation, and entrepreneurial skills and abilities of rural women and underrepresented minorities from rural areas in STEM careers, thereby contributing to economic prosperity in rural areas across the nation.” STEM grant funding is available to Illinois businesses whose projects meet the criteria.

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Illinois DOT Economic Development Program

As part of the state’s Economic Development Program, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) has offered grant funding to assist companies that are improving highways. According to IDOT, “The intent is to make available state matching funds that will be a positive contribution in the location-selection process and to target those projects which will expand the state’s existing job base or create new employment opportunities.” If your company is working on a highway project that improves Illinois or is part of a new development, it may be eligible for grant funding.

Grant funding is not a popular method of financing projects, because applying can be tedious, and there is no guarantee that your application will be approved. However, if your project qualifies, then the grant money will not need to be paid back, so it’s always worth submitting.


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This article was written by Alaina Brandenburger for CBS Small Business Pulse.