May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. And UPS is marking the occasion by awarding grant funding to AAPI-owned businesses.
This $150,000 grant program is part of UPS’s Proudly Unstoppable initiative. And the Asian American & Pacific Islander Chamber of Commerce & Entrepreneurship (ACE) is helping to administer grants.
About UPS and National ACE’s Proudly Unstoppable Grants
Eligible businesses can apply for grants of $5,000. To qualify, businesses must be at least 51 percent AAPI-owned, be a for-profit business in the U.S. 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 is highlighting 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 awarded 27 $5,000 grants in 2021. Past grant recipients include pet shops, bakeries, artists, wellness brands, and even electrical contractors. So businesses in nearly every industry and every part of the country that meet the criteria can apply for funds.
COVID’s Impact on AAPI-Owned Small Businesses
Unfortunately, AAPI businesses have been some of the hardest hit over the past couple years. The pandemic impacted nearly all small businesses in some ways. 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 alongside Reimagine Main Street in 2021. They measured results from AAPI business owners against those from White, Black, Hispanic, and Native 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 business owners. In addition to the actual business challenges, about 40 percent of AAPI business owners reported being blamed for the pandemic. And many experienced vandalism or discrimination over the past two years.
Luckily, the availability of vaccines and declining hospitalizations has many AAPI business owners feeling increasingly optimistic. However, they are less optimistic than the business community as a whole. So programs like the Proudly Unstoppable initiative are still beneficial for evening the playing field for underserved and disadvantaged businesses.
About the Proudly Unstoppable Initiative
The application period for ACE and UPS’s Proudly Unstoppable AAPI grants has closed for this round. And the companies are in the process of notifying winners now.
However, the Proudly Unstoppable initiative is an ongoing program that supports businesses that face all kinds of barriers. To date, the program has awarded more than $1 million in grants. Previous funding rounds have supported Black, LatinX, and LGBTQ+ owned businesses. And this is the second year that UPS and ACE have teamed up to support the AAPI business community. So there are likely to be even more opportunities for a huge array of entrepreneurs going forward.
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