FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Section 1: California Grant Relief Program
Overview

What should I do first when applying for a grant?

1. Watch the application video on the Videos On-Demand page of this website
2. Review the application guide (available on the homepage of this website) and gather your documents
3. Apply through a partner

How do I check if my application has been completed?

1. Sign into the Portal using the partner page you submitted your application through.
2. If your application has been completed, your status will say “Pending Document Upload”. Click “Upload Documents & Bank Info” to complete the application process. If your application is incomplete, you will need to click “Edit Application” to complete it before you can upload documents.

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.

On November 30, 2020, Governor Newsom and the State Legislature announced the allocation of $500 million to the Program to be administered by the California Office of the Small Business Advocate (CalOSBA) at the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development.

Lendistry has been designated by the state to act as the intermediary for the Program to disburse the grant funds.

I called the call center and requested a call back that I did not receive?

The call center will call back in the order received. Please note that the call center will not offer call-backs two hours before closing so all call-backs will be placed on the same day. Please be sure to answer ALL calls you receive for 2 hours after you have requested a call-back.

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 www.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 1

Application Opens December 30, 2020 at 6:00 AM PST
Application Closes January 13, 2021 at 11:59 PM PST
Start of Approval Notifications January 15, 2021

We will review applications for eligibility and will start approving grant awards after the close of each application round. Applicants who submitted their application and submitted all documentation in the first round do not need to reapply; qualified applications for eligible businesses will be rolled over into the next funding round for consideration.

Round 2

Application Opens TBD
Application Closes TBD
Start of Approval Notifications TBD

We will review applications for eligibility and will start approving grant awards after the close of each application round. Round 2 is the final application window for the Program. Grant awards for businesses in the second application window will be made in two decision rounds for funding.

Section 2: Funding Rounds
Overview

How many rounds are there?

There are two application 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?

No. If you submitted a complete application during an application window, meet the eligibility requirements and are not awarded a grant in the first round, your application will be rolled over into the next round for consideration.

How will grant recipients be determined?

First, applications will be reviewed to determine whether the applicant meets the eligibility requirements. Eligible businesses will then 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, including the following:

  • Geographic distribution based on COVID-19 health and safety restrictions following California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy, county status and the new Regional Stay At Home Order which can be found at https://covid19.ca.gov/safer-economy/
  • Industry sectors most impacted by the pandemic
  • Underserved small business groups served by the State supported network of small business centers (i.e., businesses majority owned and run on a daily basis by women, minorities/persons of color, veterans and businesses located in low-to-moderate income and rural communities)

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 approved for an award, waitlisted or not selected. Lendistry intends to send approval notifications for the first round weekly starting on or around January 13, 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, including the following:

  • Geographic distribution based on COVID-19 health and safety restrictions following California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy, county status and the new Regional Stay At Home Order which can be found at https://covid19.ca.gov/safer-economy/
  • Industry sectors most impacted by the pandemic
  • Underserved small business groups served by the State supported network of small business centers (i.e., businesses majority owned and run on a daily basis by women, minorities/persons of color, veterans and businesses located in low-to-moderate income and rural communities)

    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.

    Application Guidance

    My application was started, but unfinished before the first application window closed at 11:59 PM on January 13th. Do I need to restart my application?

    If you started an application during the first application window and your application is incomplete, you can log into your account with Lendistry to submit a complete application during the second application window.

    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 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 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, overhead (including rent, utilities, mortgage principal and interest payments (excluding mortgage prepayments)), debt payments (principal and interest) incurred 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; or
    • Any other COVID-19 related expenses not already covered through grants, forgivable loans or other relief through federal, state, county or city programs.

    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

    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. 

    • 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 or 2018) – 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. 

    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 their 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 and also to determine minority- or women- or veteran- ownership 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 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?

    Small business relief grants are provided to eligible small businesses and nonprofits. The application does not require any information regarding the immigration status of the business owner(s). However, business owners 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.

    Will grants be considered under the public charge rule?

    Small business relief grants are provided to eligible small businesses and nonprofits. These grants are not considered under the public charge rule. The public charge policy considers an individual person’s use of public benefits, and other individual circumstances, including income, financial status, assets, and other factors. If you have questions about your specific case, please consult qualified immigration assistance here.

    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 is 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.

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