May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. And UPS celebrates the occasion by awarding grants to companies owned by AAPI.
This $150,000 grant program is part of UPS’s Proudly Unstoppable initiative. And the Asian American and Pacific Islander Chamber of Commerce and Entrepreneurship (ACE) is helping administer the grants.
About UPS and National ACE’s Proudly Unstoppable Grants
Eligible businesses can apply for $5,000 grants. To qualify, businesses must be at least 51 percent owned by AAPI, be a for-profit business in the US with no more than three locations or affiliations with a national brand, and be adversely affected by the pandemic .
In addition to the grant program, UPS highlights AAPI entrepreneurs on its website. And the company is offering a limited edition Express Box designed by AAPI artist Mojo Wang.
This is the second year for this program, which has awarded 27 $5,000 grants in 2021. Previous grant recipients include pet stores, bakeries, artists, wellness brands, and even electrical contractors. Therefore, companies in almost every industry and every part of the country that meet the criteria can apply for funds.
Impact of COVID on AAPI Owned Small Businesses
Unfortunately, AAPI companies have been some of the hardest hit in the last couple of years. The pandemic affected almost every small business in some way. But a rise in anti-AAPI rhetoric and hate crimes has added additional challenges for many businesses in this community.
National ACE conducted a national survey in conjunction with Reimagine Main Street in 2021. They measured the results of AAPI business owners against those of white, black, Hispanic, and Native American business owners. The survey found that AAPI business owners are less likely than many of their peers to currently see signs of business recovery. They also expect a longer road to recovery than white and Hispanic entrepreneurs. In addition to real business challenges, about 40 percent of AAPI business owners reported being blamed for the pandemic. And many experienced vandalism or discrimination in the past two years.
Fortunately, the availability of vaccines and declining hospitalizations are making many AAPI entrepreneurs increasingly optimistic. However, they are less optimistic than the business community as a whole. Therefore, programs like the Proudly Unstoppable initiative remain beneficial in leveling the playing field for underprivileged and disadvantaged businesses.
About the Proudly Unstoppable Initiative
The application period for the ACE and UPS AAPI Proudly Unstoppable Grants has closed for this round. And the companies are in the process of notifying the winners now.
However, the Proudly Unstoppable initiative is an ongoing program that supports businesses facing all kinds of barriers. To date, the program has awarded more than $1 million in grants. Previous funding rounds have supported Black, Latino, and LGBTQ+-owned businesses. And this is the second year that UPS and ACE have teamed up to support the AAPI business community. Therefore, there are likely to be even more opportunities for a wide variety of entrepreneurs in the future.
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