Additional $6 Million in Small Business and Nonprofit Grants Provided Through the City’s Program with the San Diego Foundation

For Immediate Release

March 1, 2022 – San Diego, CA – Continuing efforts to help San Diegans recover from the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mayor Todd Gloria announced today the allocation of an additional $6 million in grants as part of the City of San Diego’s Small Business and Nonprofit Relief Fund program in partnership with The San Diego Foundation. In total, the City and The San Diego Foundation have provided relief to 1,514 small businesses and 166 nonprofit organizations hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic in San Diego.

“This program was intended to help small businesses build back their livelihoods in the aftermath of the pandemic,” Mayor Todd Gloria said. “Thanks to the collaboration of our community partners and The San Diego Foundation, these grants are making a huge difference for our city’s nonprofit and small business owners who need it most.”

Mayor Gloria’s “Back to Work SD” budget allocated a $10 million in financial assistance to small business and nonprofits hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and in historically underinvested communities. The San Diego Foundation provided an additional $2 million to support local nonprofit organizations, increasing the total program funding to $12 million.

“The American Rescue Plan aimed to deliver immediate relief to working individuals and communities struggling with the public health crisis and economic fallout,” said U.S. Congressman Juan Vargas. “Funds from this program, in partnership with other funding sources, are one way that government can help with the economic recovery of our small businesses and nonprofit organizations. I look forward to the continued efforts by the City of San Diego to keep this a priority to help with the livelihoods of constituents in my district and across the region.”

So far, $11.2 million has been allocated to small businesses and nonprofits. The program is closed to new applications; however, some existing applicants may still receive grants. The City is in the process of finalizing expenses and payments to outreach partners before the balance of grant funds are expended.

“Supporting small businesses and nonprofits is fundamental to developing a thriving economy,” said City Councilmember Raul Campillo, representative for District 7 and Chair of the City’s Economic Development and Intergovernmental Relations Committee. “I’m proud to stand alongside our Mayor and my Council colleagues to renew our promise to the families who run these businesses and organizations, to let them know with one resounding voice that we have their backs.”

Relief grants to nonprofit organizations ranged from $5,000 to $100,000. Ten nonprofit organizations received $100,000 grants, including:

  • Casa Familiar
  • ElderHelp of San Diego
  • Elementary Institute of Science
  • Media Arts Center San Diego
  • Monarch School Project
  • New Americans Museum and Immigrant Learning Center
  • Nile Sisters Development Initiative
  • Urban Corps of San Diego County
  • Wesley House Student Residence
  • Women’s History Reclamation Project with the Women’s Museum of California

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, I have supported allocating millions of dollars in economic relief for small businesses,” said City Councilmember Vivian Moreno, representative for District 8. “Small businesses in District 8 are the backbone of the Latino community and are essential to our economy. We look forward to economic resilience for all San Diegans.”

Many of the nonprofit organizations that were awarded grants expanded their services during COVID-19 and/or serve historically underserved demographic groups, such as immigrants and refugees, or homeless students and their families.

“As Co-Chair of the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Committee, I have seen firsthand the struggles that San Diego’s small businesses and non-profits are facing from COVID-19 related economic losses,” said City Councilmember Marni von Wilpert, representative for District 5 and Co-Chair of the City’s COVID-19 Response and Recovery Committee. “I am grateful to the federal government in partnership with The San Diego Foundation for this desperately needed grant program for our hardest hit small businesses and non-profits.”

Relief grants awarded to small businesses were prioritized based on several criteria, including:

  • Having received no prior COVID relief funding
  • Being located in a low-to-moderate income (LMI) geographic area
  • Operating in a highly affected industry like tourism, hair salons, etc.
  • Being owned by historically underrepresented populations like people of color and women

“Our local small businesses owners and nonprofit organizations are the backbone of our economy and serve communities throughout our city,” said City Councilmember Jennifer Campbell, representative for District 2 and Co-Chair of the City’s COVID-19 Response and Recovery Committee. “These grants will bolster their resilience and ensure they can continue to overcome the ongoing economic impacts of the pandemic. Thank you to Mayor Gloria, our federal counterparts and major city partners for helping us secure these needed funds.”

More than 82% of the small business relief grants were awarded to businesses owned by people of color, with 18% Asian-Pacific Islander, 31% Black and 37% Hispanic/Latino. Nearly 60% of small business grants were awarded to female business owners, and 65% of businesses that were awarded grants are located in the Promise Zone and Community Development Block Grant areas.

“This infusion of funding into our local nonprofits and small businesses will help them continue to serve their communities and provide much-needed services to San Diegans as our region continues to recover from the pandemic,” said Mark Stuart, President and CEO of The San Diego Foundation.

Prior to the pandemic, 60% of San Diegans were employed by small businesses. More than 90% of the city’s businesses have fewer than 100 employees. Local partners including the County of San Diego Black Chamber of Commerce, Asian Business Association of San Diego, San Diego County Imperial Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and San Diego & Imperial Small Business Development Center helped connect COVID relief funding to local businesses. Significant assistance and outreach to critical populations in multiple languages was provided by the International Rescue Committee.

“The Nonprofit Relief Fund grant made possible by the City of San Diego and San Diego Foundation has been a game-changer for the Women’s Museum of California,” said Felicia Shaw, Executive Director of the Women’s Museum of California. “Not only has it enabled our small-budget organization to recover from the pandemic, but it is the fuel we need to help put down new roots in an under-served San Diego community where we can make a difference.”

Additionally, as part of Mayor Gloria’s “Back to Work SD” budget, the City has awarded $400,000 in capacity building microgrants to 23 nonprofit organizations. In response to the economic impact of the pandemic, these microgrants of up to $20,000 are designed to build a stronger ecosystem to support small businesses in under-resourced communities. Capacity-building expenses include providing technical assistance to businesses, building websites and directories, hanging banners, and putting on special events, among other activities.

“The San Diego County Imperial Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s goal is to build strong partnerships, create opportunities and request additional resources for the communities in both the San Diego and Imperial Valley regions,” said Ricardo Villa, President of the San Diego County Imperial Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. “This grant program is a great example of what we can accomplish when we work together to support our business community.”

What others are saying:

“The Sherman Heights Community Center is grateful to be a recipient of the small business and nonprofit grants program,” said Daniela Kelly, Executive Director of the Sherman Heights Community Center. “This support is instrumental to our ability to continue to operate and serve the community like we have done since opening our doors in 1994. The grants program is also a source of encouragement for the work that we do and what the future holds.”

“This grant program is a collaborative effort that has been a helping hand to San Diego’s small businesses and communities as the pandemic becomes part of daily life,” said Daniel Fitzgerald, Regional Director of the San Diego & Imperial Small Business Development Center Network. “Entities and people came together to help fill a void, and business owners have shown diligence as well as resilience. We’ve been honored to help in any way we can and will continue to do so wholeheartedly.”

“These small business grants have helped black owned businesses survive the pandemic and support the economic growth of San Diego,” said Donna DeBerry, President and CEO of the County of San Diego Black Chamber of Commerce.

“We commend the City’s efforts to provide grant funding to those that need it most,” said Jason Paguio, President & CEO of the Asian Business Association. “Nearly 275 small businesses in the Asian and Pacific Islander community were able to benefit from this program. These grants are lifelines for small business owners who are still reeling from the economic effects of the pandemic.”


Lorena Nava Ruggero, The San Diego Foundation, 619-309-5179,
Office of Mayor Todd Gloria,