Pennsylvania CDFI Network Historically Disadvantaged Business Assistance Program

In partnership with the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, the Pennsylvania CDFI Network is pleased to announce the opening of grant applications for the Historically Disadvantaged Business Assistance (HDBA) Grant Program.

The Historically Disadvantaged Business Assistance Program is a $10.5 million grant program funded by the American Rescue Plan Act financed in part by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, under the administration of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The program intends to mitigate the negative economic impacts of COVID-19 on small businesses.

The program aims at supporting socially and economically disadvantaged individuals who own at least a 51% interest and control management and daily business operations and meet the definition of “targeted population” as defined by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Community Development Financial Institutions Fund, outlined in the code of federal regulations at 12 CFR 1805.201(b)(3)(iii).

This program is deployed in partnership with the PA CDFI Network’s member CDFIs, the City of Philadelphia Office of Neighborhood Economic Development, the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County Economic Development, and the Pennsylvania Downtown Center. We are grateful for their willingness to assist in the deployment of this program.

Small business owners may already be aware of or have established connections with a corridor, business district or Main Street manager assigned to these designated priority commercial areas. If your business is in a priority designated Commercial Corridor, Neighborhood Business District, Allegheny Together Community, or Main Street area, you can expect to hear from these managers directly.

Grant Prioritization

The program will give priority to small businesses located in:

The Network anticipates a high demand for these funds. Businesses meeting two or more of the program priorities are most likely to receive approval.
Technical Assistance (TA) Component:

As part of the Historically Disadvantaged Business Assistance Grant Program, The PA CDFI Network has partnered with member Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), minority chamber organizations in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, and the Pennsylvania Professional Image Alliance to provide technical assistance to historically disadvantaged small businesses.

If you are a historically disadvantaged (racial or ethnic minority-owned) small business, you may be eligible to receive technical assistance from these organizations. Please navigate to the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development’s landing page to learn more about the technical assistance component and get in contact with these partner organizations.

Eligibility Requirements

To be considered eligible for this grant program, a small business must:

  • Be at least 51% owned and operated by individuals that identify as African American, Black, Hispanic, Native American, Asian American, or Pacific Islander. This target population is based on the U.S. Treasury Department’s definition of disadvantaged individuals that historically lack access to financial services,
  • Generate annual revenues of less than $1 million,
  • Generate 51% or more of revenues in Pennsylvania,
  • Employ 25 or fewer full-time equivalent employees,
  • Have been negatively impacted by COVID-19,
  • Be in operation on or before March 17, 2020,
  • Be in operation when they apply for and receive HDBA grant funding,
  • File a Pennsylvania tax return, and
  • Be current on federal, state, and local taxes.

Ineligible Businesses

Ineligible businesses include:

  • Businesses that are not physically based in Pennsylvania
  • Nonprofit, churches, and other religious institutions
  • Passive real estate firms
  • Real estate businesses in which greater than 51% of their income is rental income
  • Businesses engaged in illegal activity per federal, state, or local laws
  • Businesses in active default with taxes or fees owed to the federal, state, or local government
  • Businesses that are delinquent or in active default on other federal loans through agencies such as SBA, HUD, or USDA.
  • Private clubs and businesses that limit the number of memberships for reasons other than capacity
  • Businesses engaged in any illegal activity, socially undesirable, or those that may be considered predatory in nature, such as pawnshops, rent to own, check cashing businesses, erotic massage businesses, and adult bookstores.
  • Businesses primarily engaged in political or lobbying activities
  • Financial businesses primarily engaged in the business of lending, such as banks, finance companies, and factors
  • Life insurance companies
  • An owner of 20 percent or more of the equity of the applicant is incarcerated, on probation, on parole; presently subject to an indictment, criminal information, arraignment, or other means by which formal criminal charges are brought in any jurisdiction; or has been convicted of a felony involving fraud, bribery, embezzlement, or a false statement in a loan application or an application for federal financial assistance within the last five years or any other felony within the last year.
Grant use and award amount

During the application process, businesses will request a grant amount of at least $2,500 and up to $10,000. The grant amount request should be based on past and anticipated costs associated with, but not limited to, the following:  

  • Working capital
  • Inventory
  • Equipment
  • Safety and security equipment
  • Marketing
  • Costs to support the ongoing operation of the business

Eligible businesses may not use the grant funds for expenses already paid for with other relief measures such as federal, state, or local grants and/or loan programs.

Application review and approval process

Applicants are required to complete a preliminary application to collect basic requirements. Once scored, qualified preliminary applications will move forward with full application due diligence to assure that businesses receiving the funds are legitimate and to prevent fraud. The PA CDFI Network will accept applications for a period of three (3) weeks from February 5 through February 23, 2024.Applicants will receive notification within two (2) months, and grant awards will be released within four(4) months.

This program is managed by the Pennsylvania CDFI Network. We have contracted with Community Reinvestment Fund (CRF) to oversee the application process. Applicants will hear from both organizations during the application process.

Grant recipients will have a tax liability for this grant which will be treated as additional income by the IRS. The Network will issue 1099 tax forms to grantees required to receive them.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can funds be used for?

Grants may be used for, but not limited to, the following:

  • Working capitol
  • Inventory
  • Equipment
  • Safety and security equipment
  • Marketing
  • Costs to support the ongoing operation of the business.

Eligible businesses may not use the grant funds for expenses already paid for with other relief measures such as federal, state, or local grants and/or loan programs.

How can I determine if my business is located in a high crime rate municipality?

Click this link to find your municipality: HDBA High Crime Municipalities

What if my business has multiple locations in more than one municipality? Which address should I enter on my application?

Small business owners that have more than one location are encouraged to apply with the address that best fits the highest number of program priorities.

I have a franchise business with multiple locations. Can I apply for assistance for each location?

No. Businesses with common ownership can only apply once. If you own multiple franchises or multiple locations for your business, you may only apply one time.

I own multiple businesses. Can I apply for each business?

No. If you own multiple businesses, you may only apply one time for one of your businesses.

How do they decide who will receive the grant?

The PA CDFI Network will have a scoring system based on the program priorities.  It is possible that if the top scoring applications exceed the amount of funds available, a random selection process will occur among the top scoring applications.

What documents will I be required to submit as part of my application?
  • Preliminary applications will not require submission of any documents.
  • Businesses that are move on for consideration after the preliminary application will have to submit the following documents via electronic format (scans and PDF versions):
    • Completed IRS Business Tax Return for 2022, or 2023 if completed
    • Photo ID (Driver’s License/Passport)

Additional documentation may be required depending on the circumstances and to clarify any discrepancies found in the application review process.

When will I know if I am preliminarily qualified for the grant? Will I be contacted directly?

You will be notified on a rolling basis following the application window. The application window will close and not allow new applications after 11:59 PM on Friday, February 23, 2024.

The PA CDFI Network will begin reviewing all applications after the close of the application period on Friday, February 23. The grant selection process will take a few weeks after the close of the application period on February 23. Notice about approvals will occur on a rolling basis starting as early as March 8. We anticipate that all applicants will receive notice no later than May 31 as to the status of their application, whether it is approved or declined.

We appreciate your patience and ask that you refrain from contacting Community Reinvestment Fund (CRF), our grant processing partner, or the PA CDFI Network as to the decision status for completed applications prior to March 8.

Once I am preliminarily qualified, how long will I have to complete my due diligence?

Businesses will have two weeks to respond with additional information once they are contacted by Community Reinvestment Fund (CRF)

How long will it take once I have completed my due diligence to receive funding?

Preliminary applications that are qualified as “preliminarily approved” will receive notice of the full application and due diligence beginning on March 8th, 2024. Once this stage is completed, it may take up to four (4) months to receive funding.

When do I have to have my application submitted to be considered?

The application window will close and not allow new submissions after 11:59 pm on February 23. You will not be able to make any changes to your application once the application window is closed. New applications cannot be started or accepted after February 23.

Will everyone who applies receive a grant?

No. The PA CDFI Network anticipates a high demand for these grants.

Eligible businesses will be scored based on the program criteria. Priority will be given to minority-owned small businesses impacted by COVID-19 located in low-income census tracts and/or a municipality with a crime rate higher than the state average.

All grants will go to historically disadvantaged businesses that have traditionally experienced discrimination when seeking financial services and financial products. These businesses are at least 51% owned by persons who are African American Black, Hispanic, Native American, Asian American, or Pacific Islander.

Additional priority will be given to businesses located in one of following priority commercial areas:  Commercial Corridors (for Philadelphia) Neighborhood Business Districts (for Pittsburgh), Allegheny Together communities (for Allegheny County), and active Main Street Program areas (in other parts of the state).

I meet the program priorities. Why was my business not selected to receive the grant?

There is a high demand for minority-owned small businesses that have been economically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and a limited amount of funding available. Unfortunately, we cannot accommodate every eligible business that applies for this grant.

How much can a business apply for?

Grant amounts will range from $2,500 to $10,000. The grant amount for which a Business is eligible is based on the amount applied for. Owners of multiple businesses will be considered for only one grant.

How long will I have to complete my application?

Applications will open on February 5, 2024, and remain open for 19 days. It is not a first-come, first-serve program. However, we encourage you to apply as soon as you can.

If my business is a partnership or has multiple owners and some are minorities while others are not. What is the % of ownership that must be a minority?

51% of ownership is required to determine eligibility for minority-ownership status.

Are only W2 employees counted in the requirement of 25 employees or fewer?

To be eligible, a business must have 25 or fewer full-time equivalent (FTE) employees at the time of their application. To count FTE employees, apply one for a 1 FTE for a full-time person and 1/2 FTE for any part-time employee no matter how many hours the employee works. Then sum to determine total employment for this requirement.

Am I eligible for the program if my 2022 revenue is less than $1 million but my 2021 revenue (and the years prior) were more than $1 million?

The revenue limitation is based solely on your 2022 business revenue as reported on your business’ relevant IRS tax form, definition: Gross Sales (less any returns and allowances). This is reported on:

  • Line 1.c. on both the 1120 (corporate return) and 1120S (S-Corp return)
  • IRS Schedule C for single-member LLCs
  • Line 3 for sole proprietorships.

If your 2022 business revenue was less than $1 million, you are eligible for this program regardless of your business revenues in the previous years.

My business is incorporated outside of Pennsylvania, but most of my business’ revenue is generated in-state. Am I eligible to apply?

Eligible businesses must operate primarily in Pennsylvania and must file a Pennsylvania tax return and must have 51% or more of business revenue generated from PA operations.

Are real estate companies, brokers, or sales agents considered eligible grantees?

Real estate professionals who practice real estate as their operating business and file a Schedule C on their personal tax returns are eligible. Passive real estate companies and investors who file a Schedule E on their personal tax returns are not eligible. Real estate businesses in which the majority (>51%) of their income is rental income are also not eligible.

A driver’s license is a required document. Is a State ID allowed instead of a driver's license? Or would other forms of picture identification be allowed?

Yes, any government issued Photo ID will be accepted. State ID, or a passport would be other forms that could be accepted.

Do I have to submit documentation to verify ownership? Do multi-owner companies have to submit for one owner or all?

We will need information from only the owner that is filing the application. Only one business owner can apply.

How will I know you have all my information to be considered?

You will receive a confirmation email from to confirm your application has been received. If more information or documents are needed after you have been preliminarily qualified, CRF will contact you by email and work with you to complete your application or verify the information you submitted. CRF is available to assist you in understanding what business information is needed and how to upload documents.

Confirmation emails come from If you did not receive a confirmation email after submitting your application, please check your Spam Folder for emails from and add the email address to your email account’s safe sender list.

I have a criminal history, am I eligible to apply?

Yes, individuals with a criminal history are eligible to apply. The Historically Disadvantaged Business Assistance Grant Program follows the certification and program eligibility requirements for the Small Business Administration (SBA). The criterion for exclusion is:

The business will only be excluded if 20% or more of the business is owned by individuals facing felony charges. The parole/probation exclusion is now limited to 20% owners whose probation or parole commenced within the last five years for any financial felony involving fraud, bribery, embezzlement, or a false statement in a loan application or an application for federal financial assistance. If you have a criminal history of any non-financial felony (as mentioned above) in the past year, you are also locked out of applying.

If I apply, can I receive help in completing the application?

Yes, we have technical assistance partners available to assist you in completing the application.You may find a list of their contact information here.


February 5th, 2024 – February 23rd, 2024

The application process closed effective Friday, February 23, 2024. Click here to sign up for our mailing list to stay in the loop for future grant opportunities.

Language Support

Community Reinvestment Fund (CRF), the service provider for this grant program, is available to provide e-mail support in English and Spanish for any questions or issues that you may experience while completing your application. They can be reached by e-mail at

Language support is also available in select Asian languages. Please contact the Asian American Chamber of Commerce in Philadelphia or Pittsburgh to receive language support.