Supporting the organizations that support entrepreneurs

The goal of the Entrepreneurship Partner Grant is to encourage the formation of entrepreneurship support programs and to develop startup and emerging growth companies in the state of Wisconsin.

How it works

This program from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) provides grants to eligible nonprofits so they can, in turn, provide funding support and technical assistance to startups. The program has grants available for new or pilot projects and for established projects with demonstrated results. The program operates on a competitive basis and will have multiple application cycles throughout the year.

Partner requirements

Entities eligible for Entrepreneurship Partner Grant funds include communities, nonprofit organizations, educational institutions and other entities that operate a nonprofit entrepreneurship assistance program in Wisconsin. Programs that focus on underserved populations are especially encouraged to apply. Applicants are generally required to demonstrate a minimum of one year of program results for the traditional grant. Those with a new program will generally apply through a competitive application process. Please reach out to WEDC to discuss your project and determine how WEDC can best support entrepreneurs in your community.

Program requirements

Eligible applicants will provide information on program management, operating plans, entrepreneurship resources and use of funds. Applicants will identify matching funds to funding provided by WEDC according to amount requested.

Entrepreneurship Partner Grant recipients may provide funding to companies participating in the assistance program. WEDC must approve the type of funding being provided to participating companies and individuals. Loan repayments and/or investment returns to the recipient may only be used to support direct program costs or to provide capital to companies participating in a current or future cohort of the assistance.

Recipients will be required to match WEDC funds 1:1 with cash funds or eligible expenses. Matching funds may be from cash or valid program expenses and may be dedicated to operating expenses.

Evaluation criteria

The evaluation criteria for FY24 include:

  1. Project alignment with eligible activities; feasibility of work plan; identification of goals and target market, relevant experience and track record of the applicant organization and its collaborators, extent of collaboration and community support for the project, potential for replication of the project in other areas of Wisconsin, and alignment of the project with other business/economic development strategies
  2. Need, financial soundness of the project budget, impact of WEDC funds, and efficiency to assist the most individuals
  3. Identification of measurable, feasible and impactful outcomes
  4. Evidence that the project reflects an impactful solution to a demonstrable need unmet for the targeted population or location