The California Dream Fund is administered by the California Office of the Small Business Advocate (CalOSBA) through select centers of the Technical Assistance Expansion Program (TAEP).

PLEASE NOTE: Lendistry is the sole entity designated as the Intermediary of the California Dream Fund (the “Program”). This site (cadreamfund.com) and the other websites available on or through this site (the “Designated Sites”) are the only approved websites designated for the administration of the Program. Any other website purporting to administer or otherwise act as an Intermediary in connection with the Program may be fraudulent. As such, you should exercise extreme caution and avoid providing any information (personal or otherwise) in connection with the Program on or through any website other than the Designated Sites. Further, neither Lendistry nor any of its partners will charge any fees to apply for a grant under the Program and we recommend that you avoid any third parties purporting to charge fees for you to apply.

Program Overview

The California Dream Fund Grant Program (CDFG or Dream Fund) was created in 2021 by Senate Bill No. 151 (Government Code Section 12100.63) to provide microgrants up to $10,000 to seed entrepreneurship and small business creation in underserved small business groups that are facing capital and opportunity gaps.

The California Small Business Technical Assistance Expansion Program (SB TAEP) was created in 2018 to expand the services of federally awarded small business technical assistance programs that provide one-on-one, confidential, free, or low-cost consulting and training to small businesses and entrepreneurs in this state. SB TAEP was enacted in Government Code Section 12100-12100.69.  The Office of the Small Business Advocate (CalOSBA) within the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) is charged with administering and providing oversight for SB TAEP.

The Dream Fund provides approximately thirty-five million dollars ($35,000,000) in one-time grant funding to eligible small businesses (start-ups) that have completed a training program through one of the 2021-22 SB TAEP awarded centers.

To qualify for a grant, applicants must have completed an in-depth training program with participating centers through the Technical Assistance Expansion Program (TAEP). When their training is complete, eligible participants will receive a Certificate of Completion and unique application code, which will be required to apply for a grant of up to $10,000 through Lendistry. Most of the eligible training programs in the TAEP network are currently full, and training is underway.

Eligibility Requirements

Grantees: Small Businesses and Nonprofits
A small business or small nonprofit must satisfy the following criteria to be eligible to receive a Dream Fund grant:

    1. Must meet the definition of an eligible small business (see Definitions on pages 4-7);
    2. Verified completion of a business training program and one-on-one consulting with an SB TAEP funded Center (“SB TAEP Center”);
    3. Have registered the business or obtained a business license in the State of California after July 1, 2019;
    4. Have submitted required documentation to start the business in the State of California;
    5. Have submitted a self-certification attesting to their eligibility for the Dream Fund grant;
    6. Have obtained a certification from the SB TAEP Center that attests to their eligibility for and completion of required Dream Fund training; and
    7. Have owner(s) that are domiciled in the State of California.
Definitions

Definitions that pertain to this Program are provided below.

A. “Small business” for the Dream Fund Program means a business with 5 employees or less and $1 million or less in annual receipts.

B. “Small business technical assistance center” includes a federal small business technical assistance center or any established 501c(3) nonprofit community-based organization the mission of which includes economic empowerment of underserved microbusinesses or small businesses and entrepreneurs and that operates entrepreneurial or small business development programs which provide free or low-cost services to California’s underserved businesses and entrepreneurs to enable their launch and sustained growth. For the purposes of this grant opportunity, a small business technical assistance center must be part of the 2021-22 SB TAEP network.

C. “Nonprofit” includes an established business that has registered or intends to register as a 501c(3), 501c(4), 501c(6), or 501c(19) nonprofit that certifies that it is a mission-driven social enterprise.

D. “Dream Fund Grant” means a seed fund grant of up to $10,000 distributed through the selected third-party administrator (i.e., the contractor) to eligible small business founders.

E. “Underserved small business groups” means businesses owned by women, minorities (people of color), veterans, individuals without documentation, individuals with limited English proficiency, and business owners located in low-wealth, disaster-impacted and rural communities. The majority (at least 51%) of the business must be owned and run on a daily basis by individual(s) in said group(s).

F. “Minority/Person of Color-owned small business” means the following racial or ethnic groups: African American/Black, Asian, Native American or Alaska Native, or Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander; or LatinX/Hispanic.

G. “Veteran” means an individual who served on active duty with the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard for any length of time and didn’t receive dishonorable discharge or served as a Reservist of member of the National Guard and were called to federal activity duty or disabled from a disease or injury that started or got worse in the line of duty or while in training status.

H. “Veteran-owned Small Business” means a small business that is 51% or more owned and controlled by an individual or individuals in one or more of the following groups: Veterans (other than dishonorably discharged); Service-Disable Veterans; Active Duty Military service member participating in the military’s Transition Assistance Program (TAP); Reservists and National Guard members; or Current spouse of any Veteran, Active Duty service member, or any Reservist or National Guard member; or widowed spouse of a service member who died while in service or of a service-connected disability.

I. “Low wealth areas” means a city and/or county within California with a poverty rate of at least 150% of the California statewide poverty rate per the most recently updated data available from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates thirty days prior to the first day of the applicable application period.

J. “Rural communities” means all territory, populations, and housing units that are located outside of urban areas (50,000 or more people) and urban clusters (at least 2,500 and less than 50,000 people). Urban areas and clusters are determined by population density and size available per the most recently updated data available from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates thirty days prior to the first day of the applicable application period.

K. “Disaster-impacted” means all territories included in a state or federal emergency declaration or proclamation.

L. “New Business Start” means a new business entity established following substantive counseling at a SB TAEP Center. This is established by the following verified conditions:

    • the client completed the Dream Fund participant training program;
    • the client obtains the necessary licenses and permits to operate their business with help from the SB TAEP Center;
    • the client has established a physical location for their business; and
    • at least one of the following qualifying events:
        • the client has made a first sale 

        • the client hired at least 1 employee 

        • the client created a business banking relationship 

        • the client has spent money on business expenses (this may include legal and accounting fees); and/or 

        • the client obtained third-party or owner capital for the business.

Ineligible Businesses

The following businesses are not eligible for a grant award under the California Dream Fund:

    1. Businesses that registered prior to July 1, 2019;
    2. Businesses without a physical location in California;
    3. Nonprofit businesses not registered as either a 501(c)(3), 501(c)(6) or 501(c)(19);
    4. Government entities (other than Native American tribes) or elected official offices;
    5. Businesses primarily engaged in political or lobbying activities (regardless of whether such entities qualify as a 501(c)(3), 501(c)(6) or 501(c)(19));
    6. Passive businesses, investment companies and investors who file a Schedule E on their personal tax returns;
    7. Churches and other religious institutions (regardless of whether such entities qualify as a 501(c)(3), 501(c)(6) or 501(c)(19)) , other than a school, child care, or other educational business affiliated where (i) greater than 50% of the gross annual revenue is derived from the school, child care facility or educational business and (ii) the grant will be used only for eligible costs and expenses directly related to the school, child care, or other educational business, and no portion of the grant will be used for any normal profit or overhead of the church or other religious institution;
    8. Financial businesses primarily engaged in the business of lending, such as banks, finance companies and factoring companies;
    9. Businesses engaged in any activity that is illegal under federal, state or local law; and
    10. Businesses of a prurient or sexual nature.

Grants to Eligible Small Businesses

(based on business industry, which may be amended at CalOSBA’ s discretion)

This program will rely on the small business’s NAICS code (as reported on the small business’s most recent tax return if available, or the small business’s attestation to eligibility from the SB TAEP) to validate business type. 

Business Type for $5,000 Grants
E-Commerce/Marketplace
Childcare—Operating In-Home
Small Lab/Makers Space
Service/Professional/Cottage Industry
Brick-and-mortar business (operating under a sub-lease and not primary occupant, co-working space, etc.)
Construction Trade (unlicensed non-general contractor and other subcontractors without license)
Transportation (semitruck, towing truck, freight site dispatching, broker, etc.)
Business Type for $10,000 Grants
Childcare—Operating in a Commercial Space
Brick-and-mortar business (must have a fully executed master lease, sub-lease for which business is primary occupant, or letter of intent in a commercial space. Must be operating a storefront, commercial space, etc.)
Green Technology/Infrastructure business creating a scalable technology-based company where funds will be utilized for IP, prototype development, or to create a proof of concept through R&D
Manufacturing business (must have fully executed lease in commercial space)
Professional (non-consulting)/Scientific/Technical business creating a scalable technology company where funds will be utilized for IP, prototype development, or to create a proof of concept through R&D
Construction Trades (general contractor, major subcontractor, or other construction trade (e.g., plumbing, electrical, etc.) operating under a valid applicable license
Agriculture, Wildlife Mitigation/Forestry (either a procurement or other contracting business operating under a state or federal certification from a relevant government body (e.g., U.S. Forestry Service, CalOES, USDA, etc.) or other farming business)
Eligible Uses of Funds

A business owner who is a recipient of a grant pursuant to statute is required to self-certify that grant funds will be used for one or more of the following eligible uses:

    1. Employee expenses including payroll costs, health care benefits, paid sick, medical, or family leave, and insurance premiums;
    2. Costs associated with certifying and establishing the business with the State of California including all necessary permits and licenses;
    3. Working capital and overhead, including rent, utilities, mortgage principal and interest payments (excluding mortgage prepayments), and debt obligations (including principal and interest) incurred after July 1, 2019 (i.e., in order to be an eligible debt obligation, the loan agreement, promissory note, etc., as applicable, must have been entered into after July 1, 2019);
    4. Application for, or renewal of, a local permit including, but not limited to, a permit to operate as a sidewalk vendor;
    5. Investment in inventory; or
    6. Fees related to business operations and business formation not included in ineligible costs.
Ineligible Uses of Funds

The following are the ineligible uses of grant funds:

    1. Human resource expenses for the State share of Medicaid;
    2. Employee bonuses or severance pay;
    3. Taxes;
    4. Legal settlements;
    5. Personal expenses or other expenses unrelated to the business;
    6. Expenses for repairs from damages already covered by insurance; and
    7. Reimbursement to donors for donated items or services.

Required Documents

Important Notes for Uploading Documents:

  • All documents must be submitted in PDF format.
  • File size must be under 15MB.
  • The file name cannot contain any special characters ([email protected]#$%^&*()_+).
  • Please download and save the Application Certification before you fill it out.

Select the Application Certification that aligns with your business type.

For-Profit Business Application Certification

Nonprofit Organization Application Certification

1. Application Access Code;

2. Application Certification/Attestation;

3. Government-Issued Identification;

4. Proof of Business Organization (at least one of the following):

      • Articles of Incorporation;
      • Articles of Organization;
      • Business License;
      • Fictitious Business Name;

5. Professional/Board/Occupational Licensure (where applicable);

6. 2019 and/or 2020 full and complete/unaltered Tax Returns (where businesses were operational in those periods);

7. Business Plan Narrative in an approved template provided by your participating Technical Assistance Extension Program center;

8. Registration with the Department of Justice Charitable Trust Registry (for nonprofit organizations only); and

9. Technical Assistance Certificate of Completion.

      Program and Application Guide

      The Program and Application Guide includes an overview of the program, tips for applying, and step-by-step instructions on how to complete and submit the application.

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