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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.

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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!

16 volunteers read nearly 3,000 Ready for Business Fund applications

by GSBA Staff
| May 06, 2021

When GSBA and Comcast Washington expanded the Ready for Business Fund's footprint across the state by opening eligibility to BIPOC, LGBTQ, and/or women-owned small businesses across Washington with the program's second round of funding, we knew we would receive a sizable number of applicants. But as the application period came to a close, we couldn't help but pick our jaws up off the floor with the 2,994 business owners who submitted applications. These businesses were considered for a grant alongside the 400 applicants who previously applied during the program's first round of funding last summer. 

Thankfully, we had 16 community leaders and small business advocates step up to the plate to serve on our selection committee. Each volunteer reviewed over 100 applications and made the truly difficult decisions in selecting our 66 grant recipients. GSBA thanks each member of the selection committee who donated their time and skills to this effort.

Meet the members of the Ready for Business Fund, Round 2, Selection Committee:

selection committee headshots_joseJosé Vazquez (he/him)
Director of Programs for Ventures Nonprofit

Born and raised in a small town in Zacatecas, Mexico, Jose is a graduate of the University of Missouri-KC where he holds a B.A. in premedical studies and an M.Ed. in Educational Administration. He is a Board of Directors member at Entre Hermanos Seattle where he has served as President and Vice President. He also serves as Diversity and Inclusion Director for the Emerald City Softball Association. His passion for education drives his need to help others, especially BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ communities. He is very involved with the Seattle LGBTQIA+ volleyball, softball, and kickball leagues and uses those opportunities to connect players to resources in the area.

selection committee headshots_tylerTyler Mesman (he/him)
Coordinator – Board and Special Projects at Forterra
At Forterra, Tyler works with the Board of Directors to coordinate organizational strategy, manage work plans and execute special projects across the organization. Prior to Forterra, Tyler worked as a fundraiser and consultant for Democratic campaigns and progressive ballot initiatives across Washington. His proudest achievements were helping approve comprehensive, inclusive sex education for Washington’s youth and working with a historic BIPOC-led coalition to pass statewide police reform and accountability measures. Outside of work, you can find him testing new recipes in the kitchen, checking a book off his list, camping near an alpine lake, or showering affection on his two flat faced kitties.

selection committee headshots_toniToni Baumann (she/her)
Volunteer / Senior Marketing Professional
A Seattle area resident since 1998, Toni has volunteer experience with Habitat for Humanity, United Way, and Big Brothers / Big Sisters. Expanding to work with LGBTQ organizations is a purposeful step during this time of social unrest and injustice; she is excited to help organizations access needed capital through the Ready for Business program.

selection committee headshots_aliciaAlicia Crank (she/her)
Chief Development Officer for AtWork!

Alicia Crank is the Chief Development Officer at AtWork!, a highly supportive and innovative conduit between people with disabilities and employers in the community. Prior to this role, she was a leader in major fundraising and partnership roles at YWCA Seattle | King | Snohomish, CityYear Seattle and Washington Business Week. A Detroit native, Alicia held several leadership positions in corporate banking, education, business and the nonprofit sector in Silicon Valley. Having moved to Greater Seattle in 2014, she is now one of only a few women of color in corporate philanthropy. Alicia has served on several boards and commissions centered around equity and inclusion, and currently serves on City of Edmonds Planning Board as well as Vice Chair of the Snohomish County / Paine Field Airport Commission.

2018GSBAStaff-EliLevi Coffin (they/them)
Business Training Specialist and Grant Manager at GSBA

They received their BA from the University of Minnesota in Political Science and Gender, Women, Sexuality Studies. As young, white, queer & trans professional they strive to show up as a resource and advocate for their community supporting QTBIPOC entrepreneurs and business owners. Levi has a deep passion for creating engaging, transformative, and educational spaces that center BIPOC, Queer, and Trans equity.

selection committee headshots_zenoviaZenovia Harris (she/her)
Chief Executive Officer at Kent Chamber of Commerce

In 2019 Zenovia was appointed as the Chief Executive Officer for the Kent Chamber of Commerce, becoming the first African American CEO to lead the chamber in its 70+years. Her role serves as the spokesperson for the business community in Washington's sixth largest and one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the country. Zenovia is a certified diversity professional who served as the President for the Washington Diversity Council Advisory Board. She also currently serves on the Board of Directors for Goodwill of the Olympics & Rainier Region. In the last decade, Zenovia has worked in higher education, sales and marketing, and has owned her own businesses.

selection committee headshots_alyssaAlyssa Pizarro (she/her)
Strategic Partner & Diversity Officer, Business Impact NW

“I believe we are stronger together. Coming from an organization that provides training and lending to small businesses, it is an honor to be part of a community process that uplifts businesses, particularly those most impacted by COVID, putting BIPOC, LGBTQ and women-led businesses first, with the GSBA.”


Laura CliseLaura Clise (she/her)
Founder & CEO of Intentionalist

Laura is the founder and CEO of Intentionalist, a Seattle-based social enterprise that makes it easy to #SpendLikeItMatters and support small businesses and diverse communities through everyday decisions about where we eat, drink and shop. Laura can sing and/or order ice cream in more than ten languages, and proudly serves on the IslandWood and Athlete Ally board of directors.

selection committee headshots_johnJohn Matthews (he/him)
Co-Founder of Oak Fern Web Development

John is a Seattle-based entrepreneur with nine years of local startup experience. He lives in North Seattle with his husband Roan. John co-founded Oak Fern Web Development in 2015 to make intuitive, unique, and intelligent digital magic a reality for local business owners.



julioJulio Cortes (he/him)

Senior Communications Officer at City of Everett  
"I'm the Senior Communications Officer at the City of Everett and also manage our City marketing efforts. The pandemic has had a devastating effect on our economies and businesses of all kinds are feeling the impact. Now more than ever we must come together and show empathy and support to our business community. I look forward to playing a role in the economic recovery efforts led by this team." 

crystalCrystal Gamon (she/her)
Senior Property Manager at Urban Renaissance Group
Born and raised in Seattle, Crystal has an emotional connection to the community and deep desire to help it thrive. Crystal can often be found volunteering her time with several local organizations and lending her voice to advocate for those in need. Crystal and her wife currently reside in Mill Creek with their three daughters.




deaunteDeaunte Damper (he/him, they/them)
NAACP King County LGBTQ Chair

"With so many things impacting our community I’m honored to be joining GSBA and Comcast stepping forward to provide the Community with this resource."




lizLiz Dunn (she/her)
Owner of Dunn & Hobbes, LLC

Liz is the owner of Dunn & Hobbes LLC, a local real estate development and property management company. Liz is passionate about supporting other entrepreneurs; more than half of her retail and restaurant tenants are women-owned, BIPOC-owned, or both, and she is an active angel investor in tech, alternative energy, cannabis and consumer-facing companies.

dominique_28Dominique Stephens (she/her)
City of Seattle

"Native of Seattle, ensuring all I do is for the growth and honor of BIPOC LGBTQ communities."





rozRoz Edison (she/her)
Owner of Marination/Super Six 

Roz is the co-owner of Marination and Super Six. When she is not serving as the "Director of Many Things" for her company, she enjoys travel, spicy food, and a nice, long Law and Order marathon.



selection committee headshots_taraTara Jensen (She/Her)
Data Operations Manager at Quantum3 Group, LLC 

"I have been wanting to get more involved in the LGBTQ community and luckily I have a great contact in Ilona Lohrey (GSBA VP of Membership & Programs) to get me started. I work in Kirkland at Quantum3 Group, LLC, and play softball with Rain(bow) City Softball. I am involved in the LGBTQ community in a limited way and given our current climate, I would love to do more!"