What is the SBA’s Community Navigator Pilot Program?

Although the Paycheck Protection Program has concluded as of the end of May 2021, the Small Business Administration (SBA) has not stopped efforts to help small business owners. The SBA has recently launched the Community Navigator Pilot Program to distribute $100 million in grants total.

The grants are structured to be between $1 - $5 million per applicant for “a two-year performance period” to “eligible organizations to provide counseling, networking and to serve as an informal connection to agency resources to help small businesses recover from the economic devastation” brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, according to the SBA.

See if you pre-qualify!

What is the Community Navigator Pilot Program?

The Small Business Association (SBA) is now accepting applications for federal grant money. These extra funds aim to help set up support networks nationwide that will reach the “smallest businesses, with a priority focus on those owned by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, as well as women and veterans,” according to a news release on May 25.

The Importance of the Community Navigator Pilot Program

SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman announced that “The Community Navigator Pilot Program is a crucial addition to our SBA programs because it helps us to connect with small businesses that have historically been underserved or left behind. These businesses – the smallest of the small in rural and urban America, and those owned by women, people of color, or veterans – have suffered the greatest economic loss from this pandemic...If we’re going to build back better, we need to ensure that all entrepreneurs have the support they need to recover.”

See the Community Navigator Pilot Program Notice of Funding Opportunity.

Who can apply for the Program?

Small business owners—especially those owned by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, people of color, women, veterans, and Native Americans—can take advantage of this program.

“They need us the most, and they need us now,” said SBA Associate Administrator for the Office for Entrepreneurial Development Mark Madrid. “This initiative underscores our Agency’s commitment to connecting distressed small business resources with SBA resources and grant funding.”

Deadlines to apply for the Community Navigator Program

Competitive grant awards will range from $1 million to $5 million for a two-year performance period. Applicants have until July 12, 2021, to submit their applications at grants.gov. Performance periods are projected to commence in September 2021. Those eligible to apply must meet and demonstrate abilities to support the requirements of this funding opportunity.

What are Community Navigators?

Through the Community Navigator Pilot Program, SBA will work with states, local governments, SBA resource partners, and other organizations in targeted outreach for underserved communities. The Biden-Harris Administration and Congressional leaders supported a $100 million investment, as part of the American Rescue Plan, to establish Community Navigator Programs for individuals with disabilities and/or in minority, immigrant, rural, and other underserved communities across the country.

Getting ready to apply

A best practice for applicants is to get familiar with Federal platforms including Grants.gov, SAM.gov, and Grant Solutions including any account registration requirements that can be completed in advance of Community Navigator funding announcements.

The training materials are below. It’s highly recommended that entities not currently registered in SAM.gov begin that process right away.