Invest in Small Business Resiliency

Small businesses are the heart and soul of our economy, the backbone of our communities, and they're working hard to recover from hardships left behind by the COVID-19 pandemic. With small businesses being America's largest employer, this unprecedented hardship puts millions of employees at risk, directly impacting the livelihood of families and communities across the country. 
GSBA and Comcast Washington co-created the Ready for Business Fund in 2020 to support small businesses. This spring, we're proud to return with our third round of funding, issuing $2,500 cash grants and support services to over 85 small businesses owned by LGBTQ+ community members; Black, Indigenous, and People of Color; and women - in addition to businesses located in rural areas across Washington State.

To date, the Ready for Business Fund has raised over $400,000 to support small business resiliency and has issued grants to over 130 recipients over two years.

Donate below to help us reach even more small businesses in need.


By making a donation to the Ready for Business Fund, you are directly empowering small business owners and strengthening your community. Donations of any size can make a difference for small business owners in addressing fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable, lost sales, and other working capital expenses that could have been remedied sooner if that COVID-19 pandemic not occurred.

Join the challenge and become a Ready for Business donor to strengthen the economic recovery for small and minority-owned businesses. Twenty percent of funds raised will be used for wrap-around services from GSBA including consulting, advertising, and membership for recipients, as well as administration of the grants.

For more information contact GSBA Deputy Director Ilona Lohrey (She/her) or call the office at 206-363-9188.

In the News

How a nonprofit helped this Seattle bakery survive the pandemic (KING 5 Evening)

Ready for Business Fund begins distribution of small business grants (425 Business)

Powerful partnership delivering lifeline to struggling Seattle small businesses (Crosscut)

Grant program for Hill and CD small businesses doubles in size (Capitol Hill Seattle Blog)

New grant fund moves money from big conglomerates to local small businesses
 (The Stranger)

Apply for Small Business Relief

The application period for the third round of the Ready for Business Fund is now open and will close on Sunday, June 26, 2022.

Too often, systemic barriers get in the way of people from marginalized backgrounds making their entrepreneurial dreams come true and establishing sustainable income for themselves, their families, and their communities. This can look like lacking capital investment, the reverberating impact of generational poverty, environmental factors, and more. The COVID-19 pandemic brought so many of these disparities front and center for small businesses owned by LGBTQ+ people; Black, Indigenous, and People of Color; and women. The Ready for Business Fund was established to help level the playing field for these communities, giving them a small boost so they can strengthen their business, give back to our local economies, and provide for themselves and their families.

Businesses who are selected for a grant from the Ready for Business Fund receive a $2,500 cash grant and wrap-around support services including GSBA membership, technical support, marketing, and consulting. This grant does not have to be repaid, and it can be used for any purpose to help the business in its resiliency. 

Priority will be given to small businesses within the communities who historically have less impact to resources through entrepreneurship and are impacted by systemic barriers, including those owned by LGBTQ+ people; Black, Indigenous, and People of Color; and women, as well as businesses located in rural areas.

Watch the video below to hear more about Ready for Business

 Ready for Business Fund_Round 3 Launch Video

Meet some of our Ready for Business Fund recipients!

Everybody eats at Carnella's table

by GSBA Staff
| Mar 19, 2021

You Only Live Once. Live Right! This phrase is Carnella Linder’s motto. After the last year we have all experienced, this phrase resonates now more than ever. Carnella is a two-time GSBA Scholar who grew up in the Rainier Beach neighborhood. Her business, YOLO West Coast, was born to help fund Carnella’s ultimate goal of starting a non-profit that would address the sheer lack of resources for homeless youth and young adults in South King County. Of the six emergency shelters for young adults in King County, only one is located in South King County and has the smallest number of beds—just 12. Carnella seeks to increase this number and provide emergency night shelter and other support services from case management to financial advice, mental health and substance abuse counseling, and GED prep.

CarnellaWhat year did you open YOLO?

Yolo West Coast has been a dream of mine for over 12 years. I was finally able to get the business established in March of 2019.

The objective, work, and goals of YOLO are unique and innovative. How did you come up with the idea?

When I became homeless at age 17, I had to travel from South Seattle to North Seattle just to receive the proper housing resources to keep me off the streets and get me into college while also trying to work. These resources should have been in my backyard or at least closer than 20+ miles away. I am the only one of my close friends that went to college, has stable housing or consistent income. I’m also the first in my family to go to college. I feel like more of my peers and people of color across King County could benefit from the opportunities I was given up north. Although I made many accomplishments, I was stripped of my culture, and I felt isolated. It was rather depressing at times. Why weren’t these services in my neighborhood?

I realized I wanted to bring these resources to my neighborhood, and I have been on a mission ever since. I went to college to gain the knowledge and tools to provide the best quality of care as a social service worker and open my own young adult night shelter and performing arts center in South King County. But I started thinking about how I didn’t have any seed money to start a non-profit. I’m actually very poor. How could I raise money? Then I asked myself, how do I keep money coming in once I raise enough money to open?

I looked at my program goals and thought, what if I could provide job training and jobs through my business, in addition to helping people find long-term stable employment? And that’s when my short-term fundraising strategy of YOLO West Coast turned into a long-term for-profit business idea.

YOLO West Coast will provide delicious soul food for the community, seasonal events, employment, on-the-job training, life skills, and one-day housing.

I started YOLO West Coast catering and event service to generate sustainableScreenshot 2021-03-19 130658 revenue to open and operate my future non-profit: The Amazing Grace Center, a young adult housing shelter and performing arts center. The performing arts center and its events will offer the community a safe space to gather for culture, creative expression, and experiences through the arts. Most shelters and resource or community centers rely on government funding that is rarely guaranteed or easily accessible. I don’t want to offer people life-changing opportunities and then have it disappear due to lack of consistent funding so, I created my own funding source with YOLO WEST COAST.

Have you always wanted to be a business owner?

Yes. I have always wanted to be my own boss and own my own business.

How have you pivoted your businesses to meet the challenges and obstacles brought on by the pandemic?

I have not been able to produce events or cater big gatherings because of the COVID-19 regulations. It has made the expansion of my business very difficult. I can still sell individual orders in a restaurant/fast food fashion by using a delivery service.

How has being a Ready for Business grant recipient helped you and your business?

The Ready for Business grant helped me expand my storage and cooking space to prepare more orders, more frequently for deliveries during COVID.

Screenshot 2021-03-19 130255These days, what keeps you going?

My twin boys are my biggest motivation. Knowing how poor I grew up, going without meals, heat, hot water, or shelter some days and what I went through to survive the streets. I don’t want my kids ever to have to suffer as I did. I won’t let them. My dreams and passions keep me motivated. I’m not going to be satisfied until I make it to where I want to be. I love helping people. And I want to make a difference in peoples’ lives, not just a profit.

What’s next for YOLO?

To keep promoting and working on staying afloat during COVID. My main goal is to start throwing and catering events again soon so I can hire more employees, expand products and services, and raise the seed money I need for my long-term goal of opening the Amazing Grace Center.