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Resilience Fund awards grants to businesses struggling from pandemic

June 12, 2020

Struggling business owners and entrepreneurs in Appalachian Ohio counties and Mid-Ohio Valley counties of West Virginia facing economic challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic are encouraged to apply for the Resilience Fund. 

Qualified businesses can receive a grant amount between $500 and $3,000. Funds can be used to purchase business inventory, pay rent and utilities, secure staff jobs and support other needs that may be hindering operations. 

The fund was established by the Athens County Foundation, Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs, Rural Action, Sugarbush Valley Impact Investments, the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio and the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation. A representative from each institution sits on the grant committee to assess applications and decide award winners. 

Applications are reviewed weekly by the grant committee, with the intent to inform funding recipients no later than a month from application.

“Time-consuming bureaucracy is the bane of any small business’ existence, since cash flow is often so tight,” said Faith Knutsen, director of social innovation and entrepreneurship at the Voinovich School. “The Resilience Fund is seeking to support sustainable businesses that need a specific funding gap filled in order to continue their sustainability and growth. Expeditious funding is even more important in times like these, when a fast restart or business pivot is necessary.”

When applying for funding, Knutsen encourages business owners and entrepreneurs to highlight how the funding will help to continue their business’ ongoing efforts to sustain operations, such as lockdown procedures and/or product and service modifications. 

“There has been a sudden shift in the regional and national economy because of the pandemic,” Knutsen said. “Some small regional businesses have been able to pivot their offerings to fit the new needs, such as the distillers who are making hand sanitizer and the artisans who are making masks. Others with business models based on multiple on-site clients in close quarters face unexpected and significant expenses to fit new requirements to offer their products and services. A small grant during a massive unplanned product or service adjustment can make all the difference.”

Businesses can also receive information about loans, capital investments and other grant sources from the six funders or other regional providers. 

Eligible applicants are businesses, social enterprises, sole proprietors and entrepreneurs from Adams, Ashtabula, Athens, Belmont, Brown, Carroll, Clermont, Columbiana, Coshocton, Gallia, Guernsey, Harrison, Highland, Hocking, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Lawrence, Mahoning, Meigs, Monroe, Morgan, Muskingum, Noble, Perry, Pike, Ross, Scioto, Trumbull, Tuscarawas, Vinton, Washington counties in Ohio and Calhoun, Doddridge, Gilmer, Jackson, Mason, Pleasants, Ritchie, Roane, Wirt and Wood counties in West Virginia. 

Funds are available for nonprofit and for-profit enterprises. The grants do not need to be paid back. The Resilience Fund also is accepting tax-deductible donations. More information about the grant is available at