Female Entrepreneurs: Apply to Red Backpack Fund by April 12

Fashion and feminist philanthropy find a new intersection with The Spanx by Sara Blakely Foundation. In response to COVID-19’s impact on woman-owned small businesses, the Foundation donated $5 million to GlobalGiving to establish the Red Backpack Fund.

1,000 female entrepreneurs, majority women-owned businesses, and nonprofits in the United States will receive a $5,000 grant, totaling $5 million in funding from The Spanx by Sara Blakely Foundation. Funds go toward majority women-owned small businesses’ immediate needs in the face of coronavirus, as well as supporting their long-term recovery once the crisis has passed.

On April 3, 2020, SPANX’s Sara Blakely announced her $5 million commitment to supporting female entrepreneurs through the Red Backpack Fund. (Image Credit: GlobalGiving and Sara Blakely)

“My hope is that this gift will help alleviate some of the pressures caused by this horrible pandemic,” Blakely wrote in her Instagram announcement. “I know first hand what it’s like to be a small business owner. As a woman it can be lonely and scary, especially during a time like this. Small business is the backbone of our culture and I want to help.”

Blakely’s campaign is possible in partnership with MasterClass, a leading online education portal for professional development, and GlobalGiving, the organization leading the application and fund dispersion process.

According to the Fund’s FAQ, applications are available to “majority women-owned businesses and nonprofits with annual revenues less than $5M and with fewer than 50 individuals on staff.” Applicants must be able to demonstrate that COVID-19 is causing hardship for their business or nonprofit.

The application window covers only a week, so serious applicants should sign up for email updates about the first and future application opportunities. The first application window opens at noon ET on April 6th, and closes at 11:59 PM on April 12th. The first 200 grantees will be announced the week of May 11th.

After that, the Fund plans on accepting new applications in monthly application cycles held May through September, with 200 new grantees announced each month. As to the future, the Fund has issued an open call for crowd funding and additional donations to expand the giving window.

It’s a wonderful opportunity for female entrepreneurs, both from a financial standpoint and an inspirational one. With the catastrophic impact of COVID-19, many small businesses are in need of a lifeline–but more importantly, they’re in need of a reminder to keep moving forward.

In addition to the $5,000 grant, each selected entrepreneur will receive a free annual All-Access Pass to MasterClass’s 80+ instructors, including an entrepreneurship course led by Blakely herself. The goal of this program is to connect female entrepreneurs with the resources and professional education they need to succeed.

But that’s not the only gift Blakely has in mind for her entrepreneurs.

The Red Backpack Fund is named for Blakely’s “lucky red backpack from college,” which she wore daily when she started Spanx, a women’s clothing brand that has since become a household name. As the official icon for The Spanx by Sara Blakely Foundation, the lucky red backpack symbolizes “starting small while dreaming big.”

Every grantee will receive her very own lucky red backpack. According to Blakely and GlobalGiving, “It’s a wonderful reminder that everything you need to succeed is already on your back.”

If you are a female entrepreneur or small business owner impacted by COVID-19, consider applying for one of these exciting grants. In the interest of expanding the Red Backpack Fund’s grant opportunities, you may also consider donating to the fund through GlobalGiving.

Author’s Note: The Red Backpack Fund will continue to hold monthly application cycles May through September, 2020. Applications open on May 4, June 1, July 6, and August 3. If you missed the first or subsequent application cycles, check back regularly for more information at www.globalgiving.org/redbackpackfund.

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Author: Maggie May

Maggie May is a small business owner, author, and story-centric content strategist. A Maryland transplant by way of Florida, DC, Ireland, Philadelphia, and -- most recently -- Salt Lake City, she has a passion for finding stories and telling them the way they're meant to be told.

3 thoughts on “Female Entrepreneurs: Apply to Red Backpack Fund by April 12”

  1. i saw this on ABC today April 21/2020 the closing date to apply is April 12 202??? how is this helpful to those of us, self employed. small business owners who are impacted by coronavirus who just heard about this today?

    1. Hi Brenda! The 4/20/2020 closure was just for the April application cycle. The Red Backpack Fund will re-open applications monthly May through September, and they start announcing the first grant recipients in mid-May. I’m not sure yet when the May application cycle will open, but I’ll do my best to update this post when it does!

  2. I really could use a helping hand with my small business.This Covid Virus may make me close my business due to lack of funds. I’ve never seen it this bad. I’m trying, however, it is extremely difficult right now.

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