Non-Profits: Apply & Help Support Small Business Recovery

***Application for eligibility is now closed. 5/24/21.

As part of Cook County’s Community Recovery Initiative, Cook County established the Small Business Assistance program in 2020 to help address the impacts of COIVD-19.  Through the program and its 35+ partners, thousands of businesses have received free services to support resiliency and recovery. Cook County plans to expand the program and provide technical assistance to assist with recovery through the remainder of 2021.

Cook County seeks to identify 20+ organizations to join our network and further aid the recovery of small businesses. We encourage small business organizations located in Cook County to apply. Representatives from business support organizations, government and philanthropic communities will evaluate statements of interest. Selection criteria include the following factors:

  • Experience with delivering technical assistance to small businesses
  • Service area and/or sector focus
  • Ability to reach businesses within Cook County (note: only organizations that reach suburban Cook County can receive Cook County CARES Act funding, but we are actively seeking additional funding for organizations located in Chicago),
  • Prior performance in a program where applicable
  • Capacity to service business during this challenging time

If selected, your organization will be invited to participate in a County-wide network and qualify for funding. Selected partners in the initial round will receive detailed information about responsibilities and the grant period by Jul 1, 2021, but we will seek to invite additional partners over time as we raise additional funding.

Essential Information and Dates: 

Please complete this interest form by noon on Monday, May 24 to be eligible for consideration. Questions may be directed via either of the following channels. We will aggregate all questions into FAQs that will be updated and shared below.

  • Information session: We will host an optional information session on Thursday, May 13 from 3-4pm CT.  Please access through the link provided.
  • Most organizations will receive $15,000 to deliver outreach services to promote resources available for small businesses. A smaller subset of qualifying partners will receive at least $50,000 to provide technical assistance to small businesses.
  • All partners receiving County funding will need to incur expenses by December 30, 2021.
  • We plan to monitor additional sources of funding that will allow the continuation of activities beyond 2022.

If you have questions or can’t attend the information session, please email info@cookcountysmallbiz.org. All questions will be summarized in a document and shared via our listserv.

FAQs  

(last updated: May 18)

Eligibility

1. Can for-profit businesses receive funding as partners of the program?

  • This program is designed to provide funding to non-profits that provide support services to businesses. For-profit businesses are not considered eligible.

2. Are there funds available for organizations that only serve businesses in the city of Chicago?

  • Currently, we have funds in place for organizations that serve businesses located in suburban Cook County. We aim to build a network that provides support throughout Cook County, including city of Chicago. We encourage Chicago-serving organizations to complete the interest form to be considered for future funding as it becomes available.

Interest Form

3. I was not able to attend the optional partner information session, what was discussed?

  • During the information session, we provided an overview of the program, partner roles and financial reporting questions. To view the materials from the session, click here.

4. Is there a way to preview the interest form?

  • Yes, please click this link to preview the interest form.

5. The interest form asks to upload supplemental documents. Is this required, and what sort of documents should be uploaded?

  • Uploading supplemental documents to your interest form is optional. We encourage interested organizations to upload any documents to support their application such as impact reports, program brochures, or anything else you would like evaluators to know that was not captured in the interest form.

6. What should I do if I forgot to include something in my interest form or if there is something else that I would like evaluators to know about my organization?

Partner Types

7. What are the roles and responsibilities of different partner types?

  • To view detailed roles and responsibilities of partner types, please view page 3 of the interest form preview.

8. On the preview of the interest form I see that there are some questions that are required for organizations interested in the Technical Assistance Provider role that are not required for organizations interested in the Referral Partner role. If my organization is interested in both partner types, do I need to do an application for each?

  • No. If your organization is interested in both partner types, choose “either partner type” on question 10 of the interest form. If you choose that option, all required questions for both partner types will appear in the form.

9. Can an organization serve as a Technical Assistance Provider and a Referral Partner? Can an organization receive funding for both roles?

  • No, the role of Technical Assistance Providers encompasses the responsibilities of Referral Partners as well as other responsibilities around technical assistance for BSOs, which is reflected in funding. Organizations can only participate in the program as one partner-type.

10. How many businesses are Technical Assistance Provider partners expected to serve?

  • Technical Assistance Partners are expected to hold 15 one-on-one business advising sessions per full-time employee dedicated to the project per week. Those 15 appointments can be made of new or existing clients of the program.

11. How will Technical Assistance Provider source and receive clients through the program?

  • All program partners will support outreach efforts that will drive prospective small businesses to a centralized intake platform. The program coordinator will match Technical Assistance Provider partners to clients through the platform.

12. How should Technical Assistance Provider partners staff the program?

  • If selected as a partner, Technical Assistance Providers will be expected to dedicate a minimum of one full-time equivalent (FTE) staff member or contractor to the program. Some Technical Assistance Providers may receive funding for more than one FTE, but this would only be expected if partners agreed to this during contracting.
  • Technical Assistance Providers should expect to reserve several hours a month for executive-level staff to provide program oversight and administration.
  • Other staffing considerations may include several hours each month for marketing, or administrative team members.
  • Costs from any personnel or contractors associated with this program are eligible program-related expenses. Financial reports will ask that partners include the percent of time that each associated staff person spends on this program.
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