Ethnic minorities in America face real economic challenges. Working families headed by a minority are twice as likely to be poor or low-income compared to working families headed by non-Hispanic whites.[1] Government agencies and private organizations have recognized this disparity, and there are programs in place to try to address it. Some of these programs do involve direct grants to qualified individuals or families. Minority grants address the challenges facing underrepresented communities in various aspects of society. Some awards are highly competitive but quite lucrative, so it is wise to understand the range of opportunities to determine if there's a program that is right for you, your family, or your organization or business. Let's start by agreeing to some definitions. A grant is an amount of money given to someone for a particular purpose. It does not have to be repaid as long as the recipient continues to meet the eligibility requirements. There are no fees. It is not a loan. It is not a gift because there are strings attached. The recipient must use the money for the purpose designated by the grantor. There are two broad categories of minorities, ethnic and non-ethnic. Ethnic minorities in the US typically include African American, Hispanic, Asian American, and Native American. Examples of non-ethnic minorities are people with disabilities and women pursuing a male-dominated field.

Know the Grantors

The US government ultimately funds most grant programs, but applicants almost never deal directly with the Federal government. The law prevents the government from offering any money specifically for any group based on race, language, religion, gender, etc., a rule designed to prevent discrimination. The government cannot set up a program to benefit a particular ethnic minority, no matter how severe the need seems. They can and do give money to other organizations, often at the state or local level, who may fund programs that use more liberal criteria. In almost every case an applicant will deal with a local agency or organization that manages federal money, not with the government itself. That's a good thing because these local organizations are usually easier to reach and less bureaucratic than federal agencies.


Securing grants can be a grueling process. Don't be discouraged if it takes a few tries to refine your vision and skills and to be able to communicate your program to funding agencies. As you work through the application process, continue fundraising and generating revenue in other ways. Minority grants can be the boost you've been looking for to give you that chance at better housing, higher education, or improving the lives of people in your community.