Sonoma County Community champion grant



Grants of $5,000 or $10,000 to help Sonoma County small businesses grow and thrive

The Sonoma Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is a member of Small Business Equity and Recovery (SBER), which provides eligible Sonoma small businesses the opportunity to apply for the Sonoma County Community Champion Grant of $5,000 or $10,000. In tandem with the grant, businesses have access to training and advising support.

Our goal is to help businesses that have negatively impacted financially by COVID-19 grow and thrive.

SBER is funded by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), using funds designated by the County of Sonoma with the goal of helping our businesses recover and thrive in Sonoma County.

Community Champion Grant Overview

If your Sonoma County small business has been in business before January 1, 2022 and you meet the criteria outlined below, you are eligible to apply for this grant.

Before you can apply, you must sign up as a Sonoma Small Business Development Center (SBDC) client. There is no charge for SBDC services or to apply for the grant.

With the help of the SBDC, you will prepare for your application. Grants are $5,000 or $10,000, so the actual number of grants depends on the awarded businesses/grant amounts. Funds are limited so grants are not guaranteed.

Existing Sonoma County businesses may be eligible to receive:

$5,000

1-5 Paid Employees (FTEs)

$10,000

6 or More Paid Employees (FTEs)

Employees must be verifiable via payroll records.

Steps to Apply



All Steps Are REQUIRED to Apply

  1. SIGN UP as an SBDC Client Click Here toSign Up
    If you are already a Sonoma SBDC client: Contact the Sonoma SBDC at info@sonomasbdc.org
  2. SBDC ASSISTANCE: You will be contacted by an SBDC Team Member to verify your eligibility and inform you of Next Steps.
  3. RECEIVE CODE TO APPLY: Once our SBDC Team has confirmed that all required steps have been completed, you will receive a Code to apply in Step 4.
  4. APPLY: Submit your grant application package, including your Use of Funds document, to Creser Capital.
  5. YOU WILL BE NOTIFIED IF YOU ARE AWARDED: If awarded by Creser, the grant will be sent via direct deposit to your business bank account within 90 business days of notice.
  6. FOLLOW UP: Three months after you receive the grant, you’ll provide a report showing how you’ve used the funds.

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible, businesses must meet ALL of the following criteria:

  • Be a for-profit, legally-operating small business located in Sonoma County (nonprofits are ineligible)
  • Have been in business before December 31, 2021 and currently be in business
  • Have a business bank account
  • Have recorded, verifiable payroll for 1 or more employees (sole proprietorships must provide proof of payroll for themselves; this can also be verified through bank withdrawals)
  • Not be an ineligible business (see below)
  • Only one application per business; applying more than once or multiple individuals applying for the same business may be disqualified

Applicant requirements:

  • Applicant must be a partner or owner in the business
  •  Individuals may only apply for ONE business; an individual applying for more than one business may be disqualified

Additional requirements:

  • The funds may only be used for business recovery from COVID-19 impact (your business must have been negatively impacted financially by COVID-19)
  • If you are awarded, you will provide a report on your use of the funds after you have received the award

Ineligible businesses: A business is disqualified if ANY of the following apply to the business:

  • Is a cannabis business
  • Buys or sells weapons
  • It is an ineligible business per the SBA (including but not limited to: real estate investment firms, lenders, pyramid sales plans, and gambling activities); see the SBA website)

Nonprofits are also not eligible for the Champion Grant

Required Documentation

To qualify, you will be required to provide ALL of the following:

  1. 2021 Business Tax Return
  2. A US Government-issued Identification (e.g. Drivers License, Passport, etc.) for the applicant, who must be a business owner or partner
  3. Payroll Records for 2021 – 2022
  4. Business bank account statements (last three months, all pages)
  5. A signed Use of Funds document, which outlines your use of Community Champion Grant funds and how your business was affected by Covid-19
  6. If applicable:
    • Seller’s Permit
    • Any Certificates or Permits that are required for you to run your business
    • Contractors License
    • General Liability Insurance Coverage
    • Lease Agreement, if a brick-and-mortar business
    • Current Worker’s Compensation Insurance (required for payroll)
    • Food businesses will also be required to show proof of their Food Safety Certification

Also required: Once you receive your code you will need to complete an application via the Creser grant portal, which includes your Business Taxpayer Identification Number (federal and state)

Application Period

  • There is no deadline to apply for the Community Champion Grant. The grant is open until all funds are exhausted.
  • The grant is available based on your application and on first-come, first-served basis, awarded by Creser Capital.
  • Note that applicants are NOT guaranteed a grant.

Community Champion Grant FAQs

Please note: Creser Capital will not be answering any questions regarding the application process. All questions should be answered on the FAQs below, but if you still require assistance please direct all questions to the SBDC.

What exactly am I signing up for?

A $5,000 or $10,000 grant for your small business; this is a grant, so it does not need to be repaid.

As part of this, you will need to complete various steps and provide documentation to verify your eligibility.

After that, you provide documentation to a grant processor, who ensures you’ve qualify and awards the grants.

Sonoma SBDC does NOT award grants, only helps get you through the process. Completing the SBDC support process does NOT guarantee you award of the grant.

Grants are awarded separately by Creser Capital.

What are the qualifications to apply?

Business requirements:

To be eligible, you must meet ALL of the following criteria. You must:

  • Be a for-profit, legally-operating small business located in Sonoma County (nonprofits are ineligible)
  • Have been in business before January 1, 2022 and currently be in business
  • Sign up with the Sonoma SBDC and receive Business Advising support for your application
  • Have a business bank account
  • Have recorded, verifiable payroll for 1 or more employees
  • Not be an ineligible business (see below)
  • Apply only once per business; applying more than once or multiple individuals applying for the same business may be disqualified

Applicant requirements:

  • Applicant must be a partner or owner in the business
  • Individuals may only apply for ONE business; an individual applying for more than one business may be disqualified

Additional requirements:

  • The funds may only be used for business recovery
  • If you are awarded, you will provide a report on your use of the funds three months after you have received the award

Ineligible businesses: A business is disqualified if ANY of the following apply to the business:

  • Is a cannabis business
  • Buys or sells weapons
  • It is an ineligible business per the SBA (such as real estate investment firms, lenders, pyramid sales plans, and gambling activities); see the SBA website)

Am I guaranteed a grant?

No.

Your Business Advisor (if you choose to meet with one) will help you finalize your Grant Application and also help you with any other business assistance you might need.

Grants will be available on a first-come first-served basis until the entire $500,000 fund is exhausted.

What is the deadline to apply?

There is no deadline to apply for the Community Champion Grant & Training Program. Those completing the grant and training will be awarded a grant on a “first come, first served” basis.

I am a sole proprietor and do not have ‘payroll’; can I still apply?

Sole proprietorships must provide proof of payroll for themselves; this can also be verified through bank withdrawals.

Is there any cost to apply or for the business advising?

There is no cost. Sonoma County business owners who qualify and go through the process are eligible to apply and receive a $5,000 or $10,000 grant for their businesses.

These grants are available on a “first come, first served” basis by application to Creser Capital, based on your ability to meet the qualifications. Creser Capital will award the Champion Grant.

Grants are NOT guaranteed for all applicants.

I live in Sonoma County but my business is in another county. Is my business eligible?

No, your business must be licensed in Sonoma County, as the money for this program is from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds allocated to Sonoma County.

I live in another county, but my business is in Sonoma County. Is my business eligible?

Yes, as long as your business meets all the above criteria.

I have multiple business locations; can I apply for each?

No, only one application per person, per business. If you apply for more than once, or for more than one location for your business, you may be disqualified.

I don’t have 2021 tax return for my business; can I still apply?

No, your 2021 tax return will be used both to prove that you were in-business in 2021, as well as your gross sales.

How do I prove my business start date?

Your 2021 taxes prove that you were in business before January 1, 2022. For this reason, you must have your 2021 filed tax return that demonstrates that you were in-business at least some portion of 2021.

My business is a partnership. How do I apply?

To apply, you will create and submit one application for the business.

If I am awarded the grant, how long until I receive the funding?

From the time you hear that you have been approved for a grant, it can take up to 90 days to receive your check.

How long do I have to spend the funding after I receive it?

You are expected to spend it promptly per the spending details you provided with your application.

Afterward, you will report on the spending and verify that it has been spent as intended for business purposes.