Nonprofits and Small Business & Startups

Nonprofit receives $125K grant

October 10, 2017
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Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women GROW meeting
Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women, or GROW, is a nonprofit that's "focused on women at various stages of business ownership." Photo via

A local nonprofit focused on women-owned businesses has received a $125,000 federal grant.

Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women, or GROW, said last week it plans to use the money to support its services, including partnering with other local nonprofits pursuing community and social impact.

GROW received a designation last year from the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions, or CDFI, Fund. This designation allows GROW to provide more investment and resources to rural and low-to-moderate income areas in Kent, Ottawa, Muskegon, Newaygo, Allegan, Barry, Ionia, Montcalm, and Kalamazoo counties. The grant is GROW's first under the program.

GROW CEO Bonnie Nawara said the designation also provides the ability to leverage Community Reinvestment Act funds from regional financial institutions, which has helped support GROW’s microlending program.

In the past four-and-a-half years, GROW has provided more than $1 million in microloan funds to West Michigan businesses. In 2016, GROW helped create more than 62 businesses and 250 jobs in low-to-moderate-income communities.

GROW also now qualifies for additional federal economic development programs and can bring existing federal dollars into West Michigan.

“These funds will not only provide GROW with more resources to support their clients but to also impact the communities where they are from, all of which have been traditionally underserved,” said Liz Ziesmer, board president, GROW.


CDFI-designated organizations are part of a national network promoting economic growth in America’s underserved communities by financing businesses, creating jobs and rebuilding neighborhoods.

Certified organizations must have a primary mission of promoting community development; provide financial products and services; serve one or more defined low-income target markets; maintain accountability; and be a legal non-governmental entity.


Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women is a nonprofit focused on supporting businesswomen through business training and counseling, networking opportunities and financial resources.

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