Small Business Grants

Circular Cleveland will offer three business incubation grants this fall.

Circular Cleveland has teamed up with SCORE Cleveland, a business development non-profit organization offering mentorship for entrepreneurs and start-up businesses, to offer three business incubation grants in the fall of 2022.

Each grant is $10,000 and will be awarded to a small businesses or entrepreneur with an innovative idea that addresses material waste and pollution by adopting principles of a circular economy.

Your idea could be worth $10,000. Support in developing your idea into a plan, doing market research, formalizing the business and links to future opportunities through the Hebrew Free Loan Association are included in the grant award.

The circular economy is a model of production and consumption modeled on nature, which uses and reuses everything, endlessly. We need to design goods and processes that make the most of our natural resources, eliminate waste and pollution, create jobs and investment opportunities, and provide a healthy and vital environment for all. Circular economy practices include reducing, reusing, redesigning, sharing, leasing, repairing and redistribution of materials and items for continued or new use.

The principles of the circular economy include reducing, reusing, redesigning, sharing, leasing, repairing and redistribution of materials and items for continued or new use.

Circular Cleveland Small Business Grants will provide financial assistance to businesses that:

  • Are currently an idea, or have operated for less than a year.

  • Are located in Cleveland or plan to launch a new product or service in the city.

  • Cuyahoga County residents may apply if they establish their business in Cleveland.

  • Nonprofits are not eligible to apply.

In addition to the funding, grant benefits include:

  • Exposure to growing circular economy business networks.
  • SCORE coaching to:

    -Perform a market analysis for your idea.

    -Develop a business plan.

    -Register your business with state and local authorities.

    -Prepare presentations to potential stakeholders.

    -Strategize about creating an advisory board.

  • Support from the Cleveland Economic Development ecosystem through Cleveland Neighborhood Progress.


Before you begin your grant application, please make sure that this is the right application for your project by considering how this project contributes to transitioning Cleveland to a circular economy.

Please answer the following questions to determine if your project idea is a good fit for the Circular Economy grant:

  • Is material being diverted from the landfill?
  • Is this idea helping reduce how much virgin material is being consumed in the production and consumption cycle?
  • Does it keep materials in use longer?
  • Does it reduce pollution?
  • Is this helping people change their behavior about how they use and dispose?

Examples of business activities that will be considered include those that:

  • Reduce
  • Reuse
  • Repair
  • Share
  • Lease
  • Redistribute materials to another entity that will be used in their production process

For more information on applying for this grant:

View the Circular Cleveland Business Incubation Grants Webinar


The Small Business Grants with SCORE workshop_9.9.22 Presentation

For more information about the circular economy and Circular Cleveland:


Only one proposal can be submitted by an individual or start-up. A start-up may have an EIN number but will have been in operation for less than 12 months. Successful recipients will commit to providing a final report on their progress, opportunities captured, and barriers and challenges faced.

Applications must demonstrate:

  1. Commitment to the environment and the potential for economic opportunity simultaneously.
  2. The business’ capacity to make change in the waste stream, locally or in a chosen sector – food, plastics, fiber, metals, consumer goods, etc.
  3. Demand for the concept of business product or service.
  4. Economic growth and job growth opportunities.
  5. How they will build off the problem by creating new assets – new networks, connections and opportunities that can be grown for community good.
  6. Willingness to register and operate within the city of Cleveland upon receipt of the grant.
  7. Interest in working with SCORE mentors to advance the business proposition.


Launch: August 29th

Webinar to learn more September 9th, 1-2 pm

Applications Due: October 15th 11:59 EDT

Evaluations: Oct. 6th – 21st

8 Finalists will be announced on Oct. 21st

In-person final selections – November 8th or 9th (interviews with eight finalists)

Same day announcements – Nov. 8th or 9th

Contracts: Nov. 9 – 11th

Fund award: Nov. 15th

Please note: If approved for funding, you will receive an email letting you know, and you will be required to fill out some simple paperwork to receive your funding. If your proposal is declined funding, we are available to talk through the reasons why.