After leaving prison, felons face a multitude of problems in the outside world.
Not the least is the inability to find a job.
Given this, many felons may look to start their own businesses.
However, this opportunity has its own uphill battles, such as funding.
Grants offer a foundation stone to starting a business.
Still, there are many questions convicts must face: how do felonies play into applying for grants?
What are the requirements associated with grants for felons in Texas?
Read on to learn more with this comprehensive guide.
What Are Grants?
A grant is a government-funded reward for individuals looking to advance either in research, education, or business.
It allows opportunities for those who need federal assistance to complete their goals without having to pay back the money at the end.
Grants are given based on their place in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA), which details the types of businesses eligible for funding.
What Are Grants Used For?
Grants allow for ideas to come to fruition by supporting entrepreneurs with funding.
Oftentimes, grants are used for public services, to help create new economic opportunities, and to assist research.
Grants are awarded by different categories, covering a wide variety of organizations.
Common grant applicants are universities, research labs, non-profits, state or local governments, and businesses.
How Do Grants Help Felons?
Of course, there is a laundry list of eligibility requirements felons must meet for traditional loans or award programs.
Given that, Texas grants seek to ease the process for ex-convicts.
As well, some grants for felons help cover rent and bills.
These require thorough paperwork before applicants can be approved to enter the grant’s collection of possible awardees.
However, not all grants are open to felons, so check before applying.
Do Felons Qualify for a Loan in Texas?
Like many states, Texas allows felons to apply for loans.
However, this is where most support ends—banks have the final say on whether or not a person is worthy of a loan, and government-sponsored loans tend to have a lower cap.
Many banks will reject loan requests outright if they find the requester has a past criminal record, no matter how minor the infraction was.
While many banks are changing hearts and allowing further investigation before denying loans, there is still prejudice against ex-convicts.
It’s difficult for many convicted felons to find reliable financial aid by most mainstream options.
Types of Grants Eligible for Felons in Texas
Texas is known for wanting its felons to recuperate and rejoin society.
While there may be hiccups along the way, there are numerous grants for felons in Texas.
Federal Government Grants
Federal Pell grants are one of the best grants for education, scholarships, and student aid.
Pell grants are reserved for those in dire need of educational funds, and, thus, can only be applied for if a person is below a certain income.
The U.S. Small Business Administration is another federal grant for small businesses.
This option lets applicants apply for their business idea, regardless if it’s a physical location, online, or a service.
Lastly, there are general Federal Grants.
These will come in many different categories and are highly competitive.
State Government Grants
In Texas, there are multiple programs and grants from federal programs.
However, these are monitored and distributed by the state government itself.
You will need to be at the low-income limit or under to be approved for Texas grants.
A few examples of these Texas grants include:
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
- Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
Local Government Grants
Government grants provided by local Texas governments require information from your municipality.
If you are looking for local grants, check with your city’s or county’s governing bodies to see if there are any opportunities for you.
Private Organization Grants
Private organizations may have the authority to give out grants.
However, to get a grant from a private organization, you should check over the requirements and tax code.
Requirements for private grants may be more direct and have a smaller niche to fill.
These requirements will be listed when you apply, so carefully review them.
Some may relate to not only income and education levels, but also the business concept.
The tax code of the private organization can help you find out if the organization is allowed to make grants.
Under some tax codes, businesses may not be viable options for grants.
If you see a grant that appears suspicious, check that the company is reputable to make sure it’s not illegal.
How to Apply for Grants as a Felon
Applying for grants as a convicted felon can be stressful.
There is always a risk of being denied or rejected for past criminal history.
However, most government grants have become overwhelmingly supportive of ex-convicts.
Process of Government Grant Proposals
Obtaining a grant comes in a process that involves three major phases, from announcement to implementation.
- Pre-Award Phase: Applicants must apply with their idea based on announcements. These announcements give context as to what the grant is for and how to apply.
- Award Phase: Decisions on who made the cut. Applicants will learn if they are successful or if they need to re-evaluate their business plan or model.
- Post-Award Phase: Businesses receive the grant and start working on their goals. In this phase, you will need to prove that the grant money is going towards the business idea.
For applicants, the busiest section is the pre-award phase.
This is where all of the paperwork, interviews, and other work is centered.
Grants will appear on various sites, such as grants.gov.
Once you find one you’d like to apply for, complete your logins and paperwork.
Some small business grants may ask for proof of residency or something similar, while others may request interviews.
Process of Applying for College or University Grants
University grants are extremely popular, both with returning students and young adults applying for financial aid.
However, most educational grants are not offered to felons, with the exception of the Federal Pell grant.
Applying for school grants is similar to government grants, except with the addition of interviews and essays.
In addition, the Pell grant doesn’t allow any felony drug convictions unless you have completed the appropriate drug program for your sentence.
Grant and Scholarship Options for Felons
Most educational grants and scholarships for felons are often specifically designed for ex-convicts that need federal student aid.
Some of these options are the Prison Education Foundation scholarship, Transcending Through Education Foundation scholarship, and the Charles W. Colson scholarship.
Most of these come from foundations centered on giving financial assistance to felons for continuing education.
If you are looking for university grants or scholarships for higher education, check out similar foundation websites or the Federal Pell Grant program for more opportunities.
Can You Own a Business in Texas if You Are Convicted of a Felony?
In Texas, you can still own a business even if you are a convicted felon.
In fact, there is no law that makes an ex-convict owning a business illegal.
In order to run a business, you must have two things: money to support your idea and a business license.
Both of these can be hard to come by with an ex-convict status.
The U.S. Small Business Administration Grants (SBA)
The Small Business Administration (SBA) works with upcoming small establishments across the United States.
Their grants help new businesses start and their grants are felon-friendly.
Applying for a grant from the SBA is a lengthy process, but one that has the best outlook for felons.
How to Get a Business License After Being Convicted of a Felony?
After you are convicted of a crime, obtaining a business license becomes harder as do many career options and choices.
While obtaining a business license as an ex-convict can happen, if your crime falls under a list that infringes on protected groups, you won’t be able to go into certain fields.
On top of this, an attorney may weigh in on your case, providing their own opinion.
Jobs for Felons That Don’t Require a Grant
Currently, there are a number of jobs that felons can apply for in Texas.
Most of these jobs can be categorized as general labor work (technicians, foremen), transport (trucking, delivery services), and retail (Goodwill).
However, some of these options have a limit of said felonies being ten or more years old.
Companies Hiring Felons
Here is a general list of companies that hire felons:
- Hoodz International, with felonies over seven years
- Pizza Hut
- ATCI Contracting
- M&V Trucking, Inc.
- Goodwill, if applicants are honest about their criminal record
- Southwest Airlines, with felonies over ten years old
Are Background Checks Required?
Background checks will always happen with jobs.
However, after seven years, Texas doesn’t report felony convictions for checks.
If you are before this time frame, it’s best to be open about your criminal history.
Here are some common misconceptions and the truth:
- “Felons can’t get grants or scholarships.”
- False! Numerous grants and scholarships are offered to felons, but the pool isn’t as big as for non-felons.
- “Felons can’t return to school.”
- False! Felons are encouraged to return to school. Many scholarships are for felons finishing their education.
Felons can receive a business grant and scholarships.
In fact, there are many opportunities for grants for felons in Texas, just not as many as for non-felons.
However, with a determined attitude and focused mindset, the options for returning to school or owning a business can become a reality.