California Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Program. This Program is funded by the State of California and administered by CalOSBA.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Section Guide

Section 1: Program Overview

Section 2: Application Guidance

Section 3: The Selection Process

Section 1: Program Overview

What is the California Relief Grant Program?

The California Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Program (the “Program”) provides micro grants ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 to eligible small businesses and nonprofits impacted by COVID-19 and the related health and safety restrictions.

Governor Newsom signed into law a comprehensive package providing urgent relief for the small businesses of CA. The package provides $2 billion for grants up to $25,000 for small businesses impacted by the pandemic. Part of the package will be allocated to a new program solely for certain qualified nonprofit cultural institutions (“Nonprofit Arts & Cultural Program”), which will be a separate application process.
Lendistry has been designated by the state to act as the intermediary for the Program to disburse the grant funds.

Who is Lendistry?

Lendistry is a technology partner that hosts and manages the portal for the Program’s grant application and will make grant payments to approved applicants. Applicants will receive notifications from Lendistry on the status of their application and requests for business information and supporting documents, including their business bank account information.

Visit lendistry.com to learn more about Lendistry.

Who else can help me apply for the California Relief Grant Program?

Lendistry’s partners include mission-based lenders and small business advisory and technical assistance providers who are available to help small businesses with the application process. This includes many of the State of California supported small business centers who prioritize the expansion of technical assistance to underserved business groups. Our partners have been organized by location and by language services. You can find our list of partners by clicking here.

What are the key dates for application submissions and funding for the California Relief Grant Program?

Round 3 (Closed Round for waitlisted applicants from Round 1 and Round 2 only, no need to reapply)
Application Opens: March 05, 2021
Application Closes: March 11, 2021
Start of Selection Notifications: March 05, 2021

Nonprofit Arts and Cultural Program (Round 4)
Application Opens: March 16, 2021
Application Closes: March 23, 2021
Start of Selection Notifications: March 31, 2021

Round 5
Application Opens: March 25, 2021 at 9:00 AM
Application Closes: March 31, 2021 at 5:00 PM
Start of Selection Notifications: April 5, 2021

Round 6
Application Opens: April 28, 2021 at 9:00 AM
Application Closes: May 4, 2021 at 5:00 PM
Start of Selection Notifications: May 7, 2021

What are the eligible costs for which I can use the grant funds?

Eligible costs are only those costs incurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the health and safety restrictions such as business interruptions or business closures incurred as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The following are the eligible uses of grant funds:

  • All employee expenses including payroll costs, health care benefits, paid sick, medical, or family leave, and insurance premiums; 
  • Working capital and overhead, including rent, utilities, mortgage principal and interest payments (excluding mortgage prepayments), and debt obligations (including principal and interest) incurred before March 1, 2020 (i.e., in order to be an eligible debt obligation, the loan agreement, promissory note, etc., as applicable, must have been entered into before March 1, 2020);
  • Costs associated with re-opening business operations after being fully or partially closed due to state-mandated COVID-19 health and safety restrictions and business closures;
  • Costs associated with complying with COVID-19 federal, state or local guidelines for reopening with required safety protocols, including but not limited to equipment, plexiglass barriers, outdoor dining, PPE supplies, testing, and employee training expenses;
  • Any other COVID-19 related expenses not already covered through grants, forgivable loans or other relief through federal, state, county or city programs;
  • Any other COVID-19 related costs that are not one of the ineligible uses of funds (see below).

What are the ineligible costs for which I am not permitted to use the grant funds?

The following are the ineligible uses of grant funds:

  • Human resource expenses for the State share of Medicaid
  • Employee bonuses or severance pay
  • Taxes
  • Legal settlements
  • Personal expenses or other expenses unrelated to COVID-19 impacts
  • Expenses for repairs from damages already covered by insurance
  • Reimbursement to donors for donated items or services
Section 2: Application Guidance

How many rounds are there?

There are six (6) selection rounds. We will review applications for eligibility and will start approving grant awards after the close of each application round.

Do I need to apply in each round?

Unless you are applying for the Nonprofit Arts & Cultural Program, you do not need to reapply in each round. If you submitted a complete application during an application window, meet the eligibility requirements and are waitlisted for that round, your application will be rolled over into the next round you are qualified for.

If you are an eligible nonprofit cultural institution that would like to apply for the separate Nonprofit Arts & Cultural Program, you will be required to complete a new application for this program to be considered, even if you have already applied in other rounds. However, you will not be eligible to receive a grant through the Nonprofit Arts & Cultural Program if you have otherwise been awarded a grant in a separate round and should not apply to this program.

My application was started, but unfinished before the application window closed. Do I need to restart my application?

If you started an application during the application window and your application is incomplete, you can log into your account with Lendistry to submit a complete application. Doing this as early as possible increases your chances of being selected but does not guarantee you will be selected.

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

You will receive a confirmation email from [email protected] to confirm your application has been received. If more information or documents are needed, Lendistry may contact you by email, phone and/or text (if authorized) and assist you with completing your application and verifying the information you submitted. Lendistry is available to assist you in understanding what business information is needed and how to upload documents.

Confirmation emails come from Lendistry at [email protected] If you did not receive a confirmation email after submitting your application, please check your spam folder for emails from [email protected] and add the email address to your email account’s safe sender list.

TIP: Place “Lendistry” in your search bar.

Does it matter which Partner organization services a grant application in my area?

You may select any Partner that serves your area. Each county and all languages will have at least one Partner from which businesses can choose to apply. Some counties and languages will have more options than others. You can research Partners that serve your county at CAReliefGrant.com. You are able to select the one that you think best fits your needs, as they can also provide other financing assistance for you, like working capital loans, equipment loans, as well as technical assistance to help you and your business.

TIP: Only apply to one organization as this will help to reduce delays in the process. Applying multiple times will not improve your chances to secure a grant, and will delay your application.

I'm reviewing the list of partner institutions and looking for the one that would fit me best. There are several groups listed for my county. Can I apply through various organizations?

No. Submitting through multiple organizations will only delay your application from being processed. Select the one that you think best fits your needs, as they can also provide other financing assistance for you, like working capital loans, equipment loans, and technical assistance to help you and your business.

What documents will I need to submit as part of my application?

Businesses will need to provide the following items at different stages of the application process. For step-by-step instructions of all information needed for the application, please refer to the Application Instructions. Application Instructions can be found at CaReliefGrant.com.

  • Complete a grant application (made available through an online portal);
  • Upload selected financial and organizational documents; and
  • Self-certify the accuracy of information by signing a certification. 

The following information is required from all applicants in Stage 1:

  • A copy of the signed certification form referenced above.
  • Most recent tax return filed, or for nonprofit entities, IRS Form 990 filed (2019) – provided in an electronic form for online upload, such as PDF/JPEG or other approved upload format. 
  • An acceptable form of government-issued photo ID, provided in an electronic form for online upload, such as PDF/JPEG or other approved upload format. 

Once selected for funding, applicants will be required to provide additional documentation as set forth below and re-certify to the accuracy of information provided.  

The following information is required from all applicants in Stage 2:

  • Copy of official filing with the California Secretary of State (which must be active), if applicable or local municipality for your business such as one of the following, which must be provided in electronic format for upload, such as PDF/JPEG or other approved upload format:
    • Articles of Incorporation
    • Certificate of Organization
    • Fictitious Name of Registration
    • Government-issued Business License
  • For eligible nonprofit entity applicants, a copy of the entity’s most recent IRS tax exemption letter.
  • Verification of bank account via electronic registration or other approved review process.

 

Are the application questions posted on the website so that I can prepare to answer the questions before beginning the actual application?

You can refer to the Application Instructions, which takes you step-by-step through the application process. Application Instructions can be found at CAReliefGrant.com.

How much can my business apply for?

Grant amounts will range from $5,000 to $25,000. The grant amount for which a business is eligible is based on its gross annual revenue, as documented on its most recent tax return.

Owners of multiple businesses, franchises, locations, etc. will be considered for only one grant and are required to apply for their business with the highest revenue.

Eligible Business Gross Annual Revenue Grant Amount Available
Annual gross revenue of at least $1,000 up to $100,000 $5,000
Annual gross revenue greater than $100,000 up to $1,000,000 $15,000
Annual gross revenue greater than $1,000,000 up to $2,500,000 $25,000

 

Are the revenue thresholds for the grant amounts based on GROSS revenue?

Revenue is determined based on the IRS tax form definition of “Gross Sales” (less any returns and allowances) as reported on Line 1.c. on both the 1120 (corporate return) or 1120S (S-Corp return); on Line 3 on IRS Schedule C for single member LLCs and sole proprietorships; on Line 1.c. on Form 1065, for partnerships; on Line 1.c. and Line 2 on Form Schedule F for farming businesses; and Line 12 on Form 990 for non-profits. Schedule E is not eligible.

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

Owners of multiple businesses, franchises, locations, etc. will be considered for only one grant and are required to apply for the business with the highest revenue.

If my business is a partnership or has multiple owners, and some are low-wealth, and others are not, what is the % of ownership that must be low wealth?

51% of ownership to determine eligibility for Low-Wealth status.

Am I eligible for the program if my revenue for this year is less than $2.5 million, but last year and the years before, it was more than $2.5 million?

Grants are available only for businesses and nonprofits with gross annual revenue of $2.5 million or less (based on the most recent tax return or Form 990, as applicable). Revenue is determined based on the IRS tax form definition of “Gross Sales” (less any returns and allowances) as reported on Line 1.c. on both the 1120 (corporate return) or 1120S (S-Corp return); on Line 3 on IRS Schedule C for single-member LLCs and sole proprietorships; on Line 1.c. on Form 1065, for partnerships; on Line 1.c. and Line 2 on Form Schedule F for farming businesses; and Line 12 on Form 990 for non-profits. Schedule E is not eligible.

My business is incorporated outside of CA, but I generate the majority of my business revenue in CA. Am I eligible to apply?

Eligible businesses must have a physical address and operate in California.

Are real estate companies/brokers/sales agents 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 companies (including 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 government-issued photo ID 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 are acceptable.

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

An application must be submitted by the majority owner of the business. Applicants will need to certify that the application is being submitted on behalf of the applicant by the majority owner of the applicant as a condition to receiving the grant. Only one business owner can apply. 

Are recipients of county/city business relief funds eligible to apply, and will that be considered in any way in the process?

Yes, county/city relief recipients may apply. However, funds from this grant cannot be used to cover the same expenses that the county/city relief funds covered.

Are Federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)/ or Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) recipients eligible to apply, and will that be considered in any way in the process?

Yes, PPP and EIDL recipients may apply. However, funds cannot be used to cover the same expenses for the same period that the PPP/EIDL funds covered.

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

No. Owners of multiple businesses, franchises, locations, etc. will be considered for only one grant and are required to apply for their business with the highest revenue. Applicants will need to certify that the application is being submitted on behalf of the applicant by the majority owner of the applicant and that the applicant is the owner’s business with the highest revenue as a condition to receiving the grant.

If I receive an award, will I have to pay it back?

No. The award is a grant and is not a loan that is required to be repaid. However, the State of California has the right to seek all available remedies for failing to comply with the terms and conditions of the grant, including, without limitation, if the grantee was ineligible, used funds for unauthorized purposes or made false statements in connection with the grant application.

Do I have to pay taxes on the grant proceeds?

Yes. Prior to February 15, 2022, you will receive tax information related to the grant proceeds, which you will need to report on your tax returns. Please consult with a tax professional for additional information.

I do not own a computer. How can I apply?

The grant application is mobile-friendly. However, we strongly recommend using Google Chrome on a computer for optimal experience. If using a mobile device, you may need to view the application in landscape (horizontal) on your device to access all information and disclosures.

I lost physical verification paperwork. Can I send a screenshot from the site (i.e., Secretary of State)?

No. Screenshots will not be accepted as a form of receipt. We recommend contacting the California Secretary of State (https://www.sos.ca.gov/business-programs/business-entities/service-options) for information on how to obtain copies of certain documents. In the absence of copies of organizational documents, we may require proof of payment of applicable Secretary of State fees and/or Franchise Tax Board payments evidencing active status in California. Required proof of payment may include cancelled check, email confirmation of payment or bank statement reflecting payment.

Do I need to provide receipts of my purchases (i.e. PPE)?

You do not need to provide receipts of purchase as part of the application process. However, we recommend that you retain all of your records related to the grant and the use of funds for at least three years.

I am undocumented. Can I apply for a grant?

Yes. Non-US owners can apply for a grant but will be subject to ITIN verification through IRS Form CP565.

My business is active, however the Secretary of State’s website is reflecting it as inactive. What documents can be provided to show that my business is active?

We may require proof of payment of applicable Secretary of State fees and/or Franchise Tax Board payments evidencing active status in California. Required proof of payment may include cancelled check, email confirmation of payment or bank statement reflecting payment.

Are wineries and breweries ineligible because they restrict patronage to individuals over 21 years old?

No, wineries and breweries are generally eligible as long as they meet all other eligibility requirements. Ineligibility for businesses that restrict patronage for any reason other than capacity does not apply to a business that is required to restrict patronage solely to comply with applicable law, regulation and/or ordinance.

Are non-profits that use a fiscal sponsor eligible?

Non-profits using a fiscal sponsor are only eligible if the nonprofit is separately registered as a tax-exempt organization pursuant to either Code Section 501(c)(3), 501(c)(6), or 501(c)(19) and meets all other eligibility requirements. Non-profits cannot rely on the fiscal sponsor’s tax-exempt status for eligibility.

The application requests personal information from individuals involved in the business. I am concerned about how this information is being used.

The security of your personal information is of the highest priority for us. Many of the categories of personal information that we collect are requested to assist us in determining and verifying your eligibility for a grant. We also request certain personal information for the purposes of compliance with Office of Foreign Assets Control requirements and other requirements related to the enforcement of economic and trade sanctions. As this is a grant program funded by the State of California and administered by its designated agencies, certain of your personal information and application materials may/will also be shared with the State of California and/or its designated authorized representatives, including without limitation the California Office of the Small Business Advocate and the California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development.  Any information and records in the possession or control of a California government agency or department are subject to disclosure pursuant to the California Public Records Act.

We do not sell your personal information to advertisers or other third-parties for financial gain. Any sharing of personal information with third-parties is done in accordance with Lendistry’s privacy policy (available here) and is primarily for the purposes of making available and/or providing Lendistry’s products and services to you, including this grant.

My non-profit’s tax-exempt status is based on a group exemption based on a parent or supervising entity. Can I receive a grant based on this group exemption?

Generally, a nonprofit entity that files under a group exemption is only eligible to receive a grant if (1) the applicant under the group exemption files a separate tax return tied to the applicant’s separate tax-ID number and (2) the applicant meets all other eligibility requirements for the grant.

Who is a permissible “authorized representative” for executing a nonprofit’s certification and grantee agreement?

A nonprofit’s business certification and grantee agreement must be executed by the organization’s executive director or equivalent senior managing officer of the organization. This individual must be the same individual listed on the organization’s Statement of Information filed with the state.

Section 3: The Selection Process

How will grant recipients be determined?

Lendistry will analyze for selection all applications entered into the Portal. Lendistry will consult with the California Office of the Small Business Advocate (CalOSBA or the “office”) and design the program selection for prioritization of impacted businesses. Grants will be prioritized, to the extent permissible under state and federal equal protection laws, in accordance with the following criteria:

1. Geographic distribution based on COVID-19 health and safety restrictions following California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy and county status and the Regional Stay Home Order.
2. Industry sectors most impacted by the pandemic, including, but not limited to, those identified as in the North American Industry Classification System codes beginning with:
• 61 – Educational Services
• 71 – Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation
• 72 – Accommodation and Food Services
• 315 – Apparel Manufacturing
• 448 – Clothing and Clothing Accessory Stores
• 451 – Sporting Goods, Hobby, Musical Instrument, and Book Stores
• 485 – Transit and Ground Passenger Transportation
• 487 – Scenic and Sightseeing Transportation
• 512 – Motion Picture and Sound Recording Industries
• 812 – Personal and Laundry Services
• 5111 – Newspaper, Periodical, Book and Directory Publishers
3. Nonprofit mission services most impacted by the pandemic, including, but not limited to, emergency food provisions, emergency housing stability, childcare, and workforce development.
4. Disadvantaged communities tracked by socioeconomic indicators that may include, but are not limited to, low to moderate income, poverty rates, unemployment, educational attainment, and other disadvantaging factors that limit access to capital and other resources.

Grants to eligible nonprofit cultural institutions will be prioritized on documented percentage revenue declines based on a reporting period comparing Q2 and Q3 of 2020 versus Q2 and Q3 of 2019.

When will I find out if I received an award?

Decisions will be made on a rolling basis following the close of each application period.
You will be notified directly by email if you are selected to move forward, approved for funding, waitlisted or not selected. Lendistry intends to send selection notifications on the following dates for each round:

• Round 1: Start of Selection Notification: Businesses will start getting award notifications a couple days after close.
• Round 2: February 11, 2021
• Round 3 (Closed Round): March 5, 2021
• Round 4 (Arts & Cultural Program): March 31, 2021
• Round 5: April 5, 2021
• Round 6: May 7, 2021

Please add Lendistry to your safe-sender list in your email and check your spam for email messages from Lendistry. Once notified of approval, your application will be subject to additional verification requirements before grant funds will be disbursed. It is also recommended that you allow Lendistry to send you messages via text (this will be requested during the application process).

Will everyone who applies receive a grant?

No. There are several million small businesses and nonprofits in California, and we anticipate an overwhelming demand for these grants. Eligible businesses will be scored based on COVID-19 impact factors incorporated into the Program’s priority criteria. The Program will prioritize distribution based on priority key factors (see above question on How Will Grant Recipients Be Determined?)

Will I be notified if I am not selected?

You will be notified directly by email if you are approved for an award, waitlisted or not selected. Please add Lendistry to your safe-sender list in your email and check your spam for email messages from Lendistry.

What are the different selection decisions?

WAITLISTED: Applicant is preliminarily determined to meet the eligibility requirements for the grant and is in line for validation. This grant is not first come, first serve, but there is a limited amount of funding. Applying does not guarantee funding.

SELECTED: Applicant has been selected for pre-approval, subject to further validation. Being selected does NOT guarantee funding.

APPROVED FOR FUNDING: Applicant has been fully validated and approved for funding. Applicants will be sent a grantee agreement via DocuSign, which must be signed for funds to be released.

NOT SELECTED: Applicant does not meet the program’s eligibility requirements or is considered an ineligible business. Applicant will not receive a grant. If the program has ended, this means you were not selected.

I have received an email with a waitlisted or selected decision. What should I do next?
If you have received a waitlisted communication, please be patient and wait for further communication. You will be notified if you are selected for a grant.

If you have received a selected decision, sign into the Portal and upload all requested documents AND complete the bank verification if you have not done so already.

If there are any issues with your documentation or bank verification, a member of the Lendistry Validation Department will contact you via phone, email, and/or text. Please allow up to 7 business days for us to reach out to you to assist you with clearance.

I have received an email with a waitlisted or selected decision. What should I do next?

If you have received a waitlisted communication, please be patient and wait for further communication. You will be notified if you are selected for a grant.

If you have received a selected decision, sign into the Portal and upload all requested documents AND complete the bank verification if you have not done so already.

If there are any issues with your documentation or bank verification, a member of the Lendistry Validation Department will contact you via phone, email, and/or text. Please allow up to 7 business days for us to reach out to you to assist you with clearance.

My documents and bank information has been fully validated and I have been approved for funding. When will I receive funding?

Once fully validated and approved for grant funding, you will be sent a grantee agreement via Docusign. Funding will not be released unless and until the grantee agreement is fully executed.

Once we have received a fully executed grantee agreement, please allow up to 5 business days for funding to be received.

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