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U.S. Small Business Administration: Community Navigator Pilot Program

Deadline: July 12, 2021

The Small Business Administration (SBA) is committed to ensuring that the nation’s small businesses receive the support they need to access federal relief programs that can help them weather the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The focus of Community Navigator Pilot Program is to reach and support underserved small businesses, including micro and rural businesses, with emphasis and those owned by women, veterans, and socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.

The Community Navigator Pilot Program will strengthen outreach to underserved businesses by partnering with organizations with established relationships and experience within their communities. The Community Navigator Pilot Program is designed to provide high quality technical assistance with pandemic relief programs and recovery services to small businesses and entrepreneurs. Recovery services can include financial assistance, access to capital, contracting and procurement assistance, marketing, operations, and business development, export and industry specific training, among other areas of technical assistance to aid businesses in stabilization and expansion. Programming that focuses on supporting communities where English is a second language and that offers technical assistance in languages other than English is encouraged.

“Hub” and “Spoke” “Navigator” Model

The “Hub” and “Spoke” approach features a lead organization – a “Hub” – at the center of a network of “Spoke” organizations that deploy trusted messengers to work with businesses in targeted communities. These networks leverage the business development expertise of the central “Hub” organization and the community credibility of spoke organizations to better connect business owners in underserved communities with critical services and assistance programs. Key principles for effective use of this model includes the following:

“Hubs” at the center of action:

• “Hubs” coordinate navigator activities via regular meetings, joint planning, and collaborative strategy development.
• “Hubs” drive and coordinate the communication strategies with SBA, including planning outreach events, and webinars, and coordinate activities with SBA District Offices and Resource Partners.
• “Hubs” develop training curricula to prepare “Spoke” to work with businesses 1:1 serving as a clearing house for best practices on outreach, education, and 1:1 counseling.
• “Hubs” train and help “Spoke” with document preparation and data collection
• “Hubs” receive and distribute technical knowledge and updates received from SBA.
• “Hubs” obtain prior approvals from SBA, as outlined in the terms and conditions for the award.
• “Hubs” collect and synthesize evaluation and performance metrics for all parties, including “spokes,” and produce reports to the SBA in a timely manner.
• “Hubs” translate all Hub produced documents and materials into languages required by communities served through “Spoke” and for ensuring that data and performance metrics are translated into English for submission to SBA.

“Spokes” are trusted ambassadors:

• “Spokes” are dedicated to engaging direct outreach and 1:1 loan, grant, and relief assistance application preparation for businesses and to providing additional technical assistance as needed.
• Skilled in providing technical assistance to small businesses in areas including, but not limited to financial literacy, credit counseling, financial assistance, accessing government contracts and exporting.
• Provide in-language technical assistance.
• “Spokes” focus on reaching or exceeding agreed upon goals for participation in aid and technical assistance programs by underserved communities (socially and economically disadvantaged, rural, veterans, women, and individuals with disabilities).
• “Spokes” conduct focused, grassroots outreach including phone calls, texts, emails, and other forms of engagement and outreach.
• “Spokes” provide linguistically and culturally knowledgeable experts such as CPAs, attorneys, or other professionals to offer counseling for entrepreneurs in underserved communities.
• “Spokes” work to amplify communications via earned and paid media and leverage other trusted partners like schools, churches, and local elected officials.
• “Spokes” collect client’s data in accordance with required metric collections outlined in the performance management section and furnish such information to the “Hub” for additional analysis and reporting in a timely manner.

Effective “Hub” and “Spoke” networks are data-driven and accountable:

• An effective network supports underserved businesses to complete necessary paperwork to engage with SBA programs and services, including loan packaging assistance and assistance finding lenders or other sources of financial assistance.
• “Navigator” networks keep track of applicants assisted by documenting loans/grants and other assistance program metrics.
• “Navigator” networks establish numerical goals for applications filed and loans/grants received and track progress.
• “Navigators” track business technical assistance and business training provided.
• “Navigator” networks provide service to assist applicants denied loan/grant approvals to resolve outstanding matters to secure qualified funding opportunities.

“Hub” will be responsible for:

• Creating and following regulations and policies.
• Managing consortia agreements.
• Providing technical assistance
• Formulating partnership goals and objectives.
• Overseeing operations of activities, programs, and paid staff.
• Creating and following a strategic action plan.
• Translate all “Hub” produce documents and materials into languages required by communities served.

Amount: $100,000,000 has been appropriated to make up to 100 awards that cover a project period of 24 months. Award ranges are as follows:

• Tier 1 – $5,000,000: Applicants must identify a minimum of five service areas (markets) not within the same state serving a total service population of greater than 500,000.
• Tier 2 – $2,500,000: Applicants must focus on supporting an individual state, region, municipality, or city with total service population of greater than or equal to 500,000.
• Tier 3 – $1,000,000: Applicants must focus on supporting a region, municipality, city, tribal or rural community with total service population of less than 500,000.

• A Nonprofit having a 501(c) status with the IRS
• An economic development organization or similar organization
• Native American tribal organization (other than Federally recognized tribal governments)
• Native American tribal government (Federally recognized)
• County governments
• State governments
• City or township governments
• SBA Resource Partners
• Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs)
• Women’s Business Centers
• Veterans Business Outreach Centers (VBOCs)
• Community Development Financial Institutions
• Nonprofit Colleges and Universities

Applicants must have been in operation for two years or more.

Link: https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/view-opportunity.html?oppId=333792


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