MicroGrants Success Stories AllEducation GranteesTransportation GranteesBusiness GranteesRestaurantsRetailOutstanding Grantees of the Year JassminJassmin came to MicroGrants through HIRED. She is working toward an Associate’s Degree in Business Administration from North Hennepin Community College. She says, “I used the grant to pay off my school tuition for a past-due balance that I owed to North Hennepin Community College. I just want to say thank you to the donors. This has really helped me make a change in my life. After a few years, I’m now able to go back to school! Thank you so much!” RaeleneRaelene is a co-owner of the Art Shoppe, a store showcasing the art of nearly 100 Minnesota artists at the Midtown Global Market, which served as Raelene's Partner Agency. She and the other owners of the Art Shoppe used the grant to buy new counters to display jewelry and also upgrade the shop laptop. EleishaEleisha came to MicroGrants through HIRED. She is a single mother whose son is on the autism spectrum, and she used her grant to pay a past-due balance in order to return to school to study social work. She says, “It’s hard to work because of all of [my son’s] therapies. Returning to school will help me get a degree in social work and I can work as a case manager and go out to people’s homes. It’s a little more flexible . . . I just want to thank the donors because this is helping me get back on track and in the right direction for me and my kids, so thank you.” SylviaSylvia came to MicroGrants through WomenVenture. She is President of Safesha, a personal care products company. She says, “I have used the grant to do demos for my business. . . . The micro grant will also help me to run a social media campaign so that I can engage . . . my audience more intimately and to also be able to sell products online. So I’m extremely appreciative to WomenVenture and for the introduction to MicroGrants, and am thankful for all the funders who have supported the MicroGrants organization.” CrystalCrystal owns CriStyles Closet, an upscale clothing boutique in North Minneapolis. She came to MicroGrants through NEON and used her grant to purchase plus-sized inventory for the store. She says,"I used [the grant] to buy nice, classy clothes for my women in the community . . I want to thank all the donors that believed in me and gave me the grant to live out my dream." RosalindRosalind came to MicroGrants through NEON (the Northside Economic Opportunity Network). She is the owner and founder of Fam Bam Toys. She says, “I want to thank the sponsors, the donors, because, being a woman and a person of color, entrepreneur, you start off on the ground, like with your face to the concrete. And this micro grant, what it did was, it lifted me up on my feet. It gave me hope. It helped me. And I really appreciate it.” D’NariusD’Narius came to MicroGrants through NEON (the Northside Economic Opportunity Network). He says, “I used the grant money through MicroGrants for the production of my book, The Essence of Inspiration. Life before this process was, I was going from organization to organization, looking for assistance. I was living paycheck-to-paycheck . . . When I was introduced to MicroGrants through NEON, it helped me build the confidence to actually put the process out. Now that the process is . . . a reality, I’ve had more opportunities . . . to scale the production of the book.” BelenBelen combines her Argentinian heritage with her food service background in her pop-up shop, Quebracho Charcuterie and Pies. She came to MicroGrants through NEON, the Northside Economic Opportunity Network. She says,"I was awarded a $1,000 grant, which I used to buy a prep sandwich unit. It was an amazing gift. Thanks to that, we were able to grow our business during the first two months." BrianBrian got a car through a transportation grant from MicroGrants. This car enabled him to take a construction job. He says, "My experience getting a car through MicroGrants was pretty simple .. . It actually exceeded my expectations." DJAt age 13, DJ is CEO of AfroBot Boyz, a robotics club for African-American youth. MicroGrants helped fund the inaugural AfroBot Boyz summer camp. BarbaraBarbara came to MicroGrants via the Metropolitan Consortium of Community Developers. She says, “I used the grant money for paying for the intensive course that I needed to be eligible to take my national board certification exam, and then I also used it to pay for that exam . . . I am working toward opening my business and launching it . . . and getting off Social Security Disability [Insurance], housing support, food support, all of that . . . It may not seem like a huge thing to take this six-week course and get this test taken, but, for me, it meant whether or not I had my career.” DofaDofa Mohamed, a single mother, used her business grant to buy supplies and register her cleaning business. She came to MicroGrants through Open for Business—Scott County. She says, “It really helped me to own my own business and be my own boss, to have my schedule around my kids. . . . Also, I’ve become [a] role model to other single moms who thought they can’t own their own business . . . they [are] now working on starting their own business too.” Great work, Dofa! MaryMary came to MicroGrants through The Amherst H. Wilder Foundation. She says, “I applied for a [grant for a] photography business surrounding mental health . . . Once I received the grant, I was able to get an entrepreneurship class at St. Thomas, which I am currently attending to try and make sure that I run the business accordingly . . . I want to thank you, the donors, for being able to help me with the funding to begin my business.” DenitaDenita came to MicroGrants through Project Diva. She says, “The grant was used to pursue a higher education. I’m now enrolled in my nursing program. I was able to pay all my tuition and get books. Secondly, I added on homemaking services to my PCA company, and now my workers are able to provide extra services to elders and children and persons with physical disabilities who live independently in their own homes.” AntonioWith the help of MicroGrants, Antonio was able to get his car repaired. He said, “When I went [to Bobby and Steve’s], they gave me a checkup to see what needed to be done and they told me that there was a lot of stuff that had to be fixed, and, if those things couldn't get fixed, my car would have [broken] down immediately . . . When MicroGrants was able to help out, the grant that they gave me to get my car repaired—I was actually really thankful for that because I wouldn’t be able to go to work, I wouldn’t be able to go to school without my car.” DanielleDanielle came to MicroGrants through Midtown Global Market. She says, “I used the grant to help rebrand and market my business to help raise sales at a time when it was very slow. I really want to say thank you to all the donors to the MicroGrants program because it helps small businesses so much. Any amount that we are granted, it helps to stay afloat in really tough times, and we appreciate it. Thank you.” MatMat came to MicroGrants through the Neighborhood Development Center (NDC). He co-owns Caydence Records & Coffee. He says the grant “helped us in the background here create a beautiful new updated handmade bakery case, which has helped our sales in general of pastry items. . . . Furthermore, we’ve been able to help design and then produce some really nice Caydence Records and Coffee merchandise. We did stickers, and T-shirts, and in-house coffee mugs branded for our business to help push and grow our business. Thank you for contributing to our small business to help grow a really fun Eastside community coffee and music hub.” LisaLisa came to MicroGrants through Black Women’s Wealth Alliance. She is the executive director of Adults and Children’s Alliance, a nonprofit that works with in-home daycare providers. Lisa says, “I used the grant for additional leadership classes as well as a business professional coach. . . . After the grant, I was very excited because having a coach opened up some other things for me, and other networks and connections, and that will help further me in my consulting business moving down the road. . . . I want to say this is an awesome program. Thank you so much. I, as a person that works with other business owners and entrepreneurs, know that it is important that we all have resources.” Father RonaldFather Ronald received a grant shortly after MicroGrants was founded. He says, “I am a recipient of a thousand-dollar micro grant for a laptop computer because my computer died on me when I was about midway through my time at United Seminary of the Twin Cities . . . Since that time, I was ordained a priest in the Old Catholic Church, and then have been serving both in activities and in spiritual care in several adult care facilities for seniors, both residential care facilities and assisted living places. It’s been wonderful to be a recipient of the grant because it’s enabled me to do the work that I currently am doing.” RobertRobert, who came to MicroGrants through EMERGE, got a business grant to start a fitness enterprise. He says, “Before I was able to get the grant, I was trying to start [a] bootcamp, start kickboxing classes, start fitness classes, but I didn’t really have the tools. . . . Once I was able to get the grant, I was able to get punching bags, I was able to get square boxes . . . It was something that helped me be able to get the equipment that I needed to start my business. I’d like to say thank you to whoever it was that helped me, whoever it was, that was a speck of light in this world for me and allowed me to create my business.” Chantelle“I literally bring [my laptop] with me every single day and utilize it every day, so it’s a constant reminder to MicroGrants that it has helped me be successful in my college career.” Kevin“The U wasn’t going to release my transcript until that loan was paid off, and MicroGrants helped me pay that loan off, so now I can finish my degree studying music composition, which is my dream. I’ve been a starving artist for years, so I’m looking forward to finishing my degree and maybe making some more money.” Eliphaz“The debt that I had, I was able to clear through this grant, and I was honestly just really truly blessed to know that I had something of that nature that was freely handed to me.” Larene“I started this non-profit probably a year and a half ago, so I am brand new. Being able to take this course has afforded me the knowledge and some of the academic skills that I did not have in the beginning.” Gabe“What MicroGrants did for me is they helped me upgrade the equipment that I desperately needed for the business . . . I’ve been able to get more clientele and I’ve been extremely satisfied.” Twyla"MicroGrants . . . has helped me with grants to receive money to where I can buy supplies, because I didn’t have any supplies . . . MicroGrants has helped me to get this far to where I am right now.” Jaye RogersAfter 17 years of working for a company, new owners came to me as I was finishing my shift and said they’d be using their own people now and asked me to hand over the keys. Being the sole income provider since my husband’s death, this sudden loss of income started a financial downfall for me. Daily Work connected me to a program that helps people who are 55+ get the skills they need to start a new career in their later years. Daily Work applied for the $1000 grant so I could complete 45 hours of training in Word and Excel. Shortly after that, I heard that a receptionist/payroll assistant job had become available where I was volunteering. With my new computer skills, I had the confidence to apply for the the position. And they hired me! My employers and I are very happy together. Microgrants made it possible for me obtain permanent employment with benefits! Thank you so much! Melody“I would like to thank MicroGrants for providing me the opportunity of returning back to school . . . to pursue my degree in business, which will in the future help me open my own childcare center.” Anthony DahlMicroGrants helped by enabling him to buy the proper equipment to serve his clients. Mikesha BarnesWhen Mikesha Barnes, a full-time student at the University of St. Thomas, was pursuing her Bachelor degree in International Business and Spanish, she needed to take a summer course at the University of Minnesota in order to graduate on time but she lacked the extra funds. Complicating the situation, Barnes was scheduled to move out from the Jeremiah Program apartments at the same time she was to graduate. Thanks to her MicroGrant she was able to take the summer class, graduate from St. Thomas and move out of the Jeremiah Project all while balancing community service and motherhood. Michael HughesMichael Hughes has overcome many barriers on his road to success and shown tremendous courage, persistence and resiliency along the way. He was re-entering society after several years of incarceration, but continually approached each challenge he was confronted with a positive attitude. When Hughes began at Goodwill Easter Seals in June 2014, he secured employment and had a clear vision of his goals but some financial barriers stood in his way. MicroGrants has allowed his vehicle to be repaired and his success to continue as he has since been promoted where he has taken on greater responsibility. Paige Bratsch Paige Bratsch was on track to finish her bachelor's degree in criminal justice and law enforcement including buying the supplies needed for her training. But last February the savings Paige had put away for school had to go towards finding a safe place to live and for necessities for her and her son. The Jeremiah Program nominated Bratsch for a MicroGrant to help with her education and tools needed for employment. She recently graduated and is very happy to have accomplished this goal with no debt, and, thanks to MicroGrants, she is also equipped with the necessary tools needed for her new law enforcement position. Monica Fossati2013 was a tough year for Monica Fossati. Incarcerated for 8 months due to a DUI, she lost her vehicle, her job, and her housing. Her parents took custody of her children while she served her sentence. After her release, she enrolled in Summit Academy OIC for Carpentry and dedicated herself to turning her life around. Due to Monica’s unstoppable disposition, she was able to bounce back from being incarcerated and then homeless to graduating with a 3.6 GPA. Ruben ChildsRuben Childs and his wife Mariguax are a hardworking couple from South Minneapolis, they are striving to build a better, more stable future for their children and their community. In 2013, Ruben started a small business called Turnover Commerical Cleaning Services which picks up used appliances, furniture and junk for sorting and recycling. When Ruben’s only business vehicle needed repairs, MCCD (the Metropolitan Consortium of Community Developers) nominated Ruben for a Microgrant. Since making the necessary repairs to their business truck, the company has been successful with a 67% increase over the prior 12 months. Tiara KeezerTiara Keezer was homeless and living with her sister and her sister’s four children in a two bedroom apartment. In an effort to get back and forth to work and maintain a stable lifestyle for herself and her daughter, she needed reliable transportation. Summit Academy OIC nominated Keezer for a Microgrant to help secure a vehicle. Since then, Tiara has purchased a car, gotten a job and lives in her own place. Having graduated #1 in her class, she is currently working on the Viking Stadium and happy to be able to provide for her daughter. Keezer has plans to return to Summit Academy regularly to speak to students encouraging them to know it is possible to transform your life with hard work and help from people who care. Danielle GoodrumDanielle Goodrum, opened her restaurant, Fresco Pasta and Bar in Midtown Global Market in 2012. Like any new business owner she encountered special challenges along the way. Without a hood in her kitchen space, she had to use a commercial kitchen in support of her restaurant and catering business. With only two employees there was insufficient time and staff to maintain the business, including updating the catering menu of which was critical to sustaining the business during slow times of the year. When she had a baby, she hired additional help which increased her costs. Thanks to Microgrants, Goodrum was able to recover from surgery, pay her additional staff, update her catering menu and add a hood to her kitchen. As her business continues to grow, she credits Microgrants with providing vital support at a critical time. De’angelo JohnsonWhen DeAngelo first came to the Father Project (an arm of Goodwill Easter Seals), he felt that this program was his last chance to turn his life around. He began the construction training program with Summit Academy OIC but didn’t have a driver’s license which he needed to complete his training. De’Angelo was nominated and used his Microgrant to obtain his driver’s license, buy auto insurance and has since graduated from Summit Academy’s training program. De’Angelo is now a certified carpenter and proud to say that, for the first time he is providing for his family in the way he had always dreamed. Last month he became a first time home owner!! He now understands that no matter what your life circumstances, life can change for the better as long as you are willing to work hard, believe in yourself and never give up. Kirk Traxler"You have changed the course of my life and the life of my family." Rouny PhoupthaphaphoneRouny Phoupthaphaphone dreamed of beginning a career in business in order to provide for her family and give her children a "well-deserved" education. During the summer of 2013, she had to drop out of school due to an unsafe home environment. In the past year, Rouny has obtained restraining orders, relocated and now is in a safe living space with her children. In an effort to help finance her education, Goodwill Easter Seals nominated her for a Microgrant. She enrolled at Century College full-time toward a degree in Business Administration. Thanks to Microgrants, she is back on track towards a better future for herself and her family. Jamal Hashi"...I couldn’t have done it without you, MicroGrants.” Antonelli LindsayWith the help of MicroGrants, I just signed my first big consulting contract! Abdiraham KahinMicroGrants has allowed me to pursue the American Dream and it’s working. Monica Fossati"None of my success would have been possible without my teachers and the generosity of MicroGrants which has made a dramatic impact in the success and future for myself and my children. We are Cassie TyrusThanks to MigroGrants. I'm back at MCTC and going for my advanced business degree! Laura SanchezMicroGrants was the bridge that got us through [our] tough time. Ililta Abraha“MicroGrants made all the difference for my daughter and me." Lenora EdwardsHer $1,000 MicroGrant went for special reading instruction so she can keep moving forward with her dream of being a pre-school teacher. Shareef HassanA sincere thank you for allowing me to strengthen my business Samson ZelekeWith his grant, Samson had the foresight to buy a new sewing machine just days before the old one broke down. Erica Brown"Thanks to MircoGrants and their partner agency, PRISM, I am now able to get my son to school, myself to work on time ANS I'm back on track to finish my degree in business management." Adrian CoulterMicroGrants allowed Adrian’s entrepreneurial spirit to grow, while at the same time enabling his company's (XLfeet) annual gross sales to rocket into six figure territory. Wonneda HingShe was awarded a MicroGrant through the Neighborhood Development Center to expand her marketing and add new products. Andre WoodsAndre used his $1,000 to buy a vehicle that helped him travel to his job interviews. He has now participated in some major infrastructure improvements around the Twin Cities. Maria TotozintleThrough MEDA, Maria recieved a MicrGrant that she used to but a more powerful computer. Luella Davis Her MicroGrant enabled her to buy a vehicle and get insurance. Willie Johnson"The grant gave me hope and allowed me to see that achieving my goal of working in construction was closer than it has ever been." Jody ClarkeMicroGrants help her to buy a car to save her job and then she didn't have to spend 2 hours ONE WAY to work using public transportation. Frewoini HaileThe MicroGrants investment allowed Frewoini to get a grant for advertising flyers and a sidewalk sandwich board sign to increase her visibility, increasing her business by 15%. Bassem Kablaoui“I appreciated the boost from MicroGrants more than words can say.” Craig EbertCraig received a $1000 grant in 2006 that let him take some time from work to accelerate his studies. Marie Chante FlowersWith the help of a $1000 grant, Marie went back to school full-time and became self-sufficient. She is making one of her poems into a book for children and another into a motivational journal for teenage girls. Brenda ClevelandBrenda received a $1,000 MicroGrant in 2006 to help pay for a statistics class she needed before she could apply for graduate school at the University of Minnesota. Tewodros NegashMicroGrants saved him from having to close his business, The Cave Cafe. Kari LeVan Kari used the grant money for replacing her laptop, car repair, work clothing and a much-needed stage monitor for when she sings around the Twin Cities. Iris DixonShe received a $1000 grant when she was overwhelmed with bills and needed her driver’s license to be able to drive to work. She also bought a computer to help her with schooling. Latriste GrahamIn 2012, she was awarded a $1000 MicroGrant to help support her program, which helps women who wish to leave prostitution. Mollie MosmanMicroGrants helped Mollie update her bookkeeping business's software that could have put her in debt and without it, hindered her business. Shantae HolmesShe's a multi-grant winner who has used the grants to help All Washed Up Laundromat grow and changed her life. Benjamin MchieBenjamin created a website where Black history could be celebrated all year long. His MicroGrant helped him buy microphones for his website’s video work. Ngawang Dakpa"Now, I do not need to worry about that project and can therefore focus on other things to help the business to grow even further." Shegitu KebedeWith our help, she was able to create a cleaning business, an after-school program for children with single mothers, as well as a sewing class for immigrant women. AntonioWith the help of MicroGrants he was able to purchase a snow plow, a new vacuum, advertising, and some cleaning supplies. Ian Silver-Ramp"I am convinced that without the MicroGrant Mississippi Mushrooms would be at least three months behind our current progress and have fewer connections with other companies and resources." Linda LakesLinda’s business, Flowers by the Lake, had just moved and was in need of a sign that would attract customers. That’s where MicroGrants came in. Lisa GonzalesWith the help of MicroGrants, her facility now consist of kennels and grooming for dogs, cats, and even rabbits. Yolanda SmithThanks to MicroGrants, I got working again and can take care of my family. Latoya SpencerMicroGrants allowed her to continue education and personal growth in the midst of mothering. Heidi AnnersonShe used her grant to bring her story telling workshop to a group of inmates. Sam RileyAfter receiving the microgrant, his children had a wonderful Christmas, his car ran and bartending school was partially paid for. JocelynShe was diagnosed with serious disease while she was attending Minneapolis Community Technical College and was forced to drop out. MicroGrants helped her pay in full the debt she owed them. Manuel BarriosWith the help of MicroGrants, he bought his own apartment in hopes of furthering himself in his construction carreer. Ronald HillMicroGrants has helped pay for his CNA education and scrubs. Shante StoneShante is junior at Capital University. Along with studying to become a counseling psychologist, she is also a mother. She is very appreciative of MicroGrants for they helped her buy books and pay for the remainder of her tuition. Tsering PalmoMicroGrants helped her pay for her citizenship form as well as driving school. Leeann BenjaminMicroGrants lent her a hand during a time financial struggle by helping pay for her truck’s repairs. Antoinette WilliamsAfter spending almost all of her savings on cancer treatments and new storefront, she had little to support herself. Her $1000 grant let her buy a new computer that opened a whole other world for her business. Jesse Lockett-EllJesse’s lifelong dream was to open his own restaurant, and with MEDA & MicroGrants’ help, his dream is becoming a reality. Marcallina S. JamesI am happy to say that it was a MicroGrant that inspired me to resume my studies at Augsburg College and to achieve a dream. Angela McRoy, Outstanding Innovation and LeverageAngela McRoy won the Outstanding Innovation and Leverage Award working with Nichol Ellis-McGregor of Project for Pride in Living. Working as a full time Personal Care Assistant, Angela was striving daily to save enough money to take the classes and exams that would certify her to become employed teaching Yoga. Angela comments, “Thanks to MicroGrants, I completed my classes and am a certified Yoga Instructor. I have taken a new position in business development and am earning a good wage with a good future. Yoga is still a big part of my life and I am volunteer teaching. Thank you so much for your support in moving me closer to my dreams.” Gail Weiss, Outstanding Progress and Biggest StepGail Weiss won the Outstanding Progress and Biggest Step Award working with Shari Sibbaldt of Wilder Foundation. Right after graduating with her Bachelor’s Degree, Gail landed a great job in her field, and right after that, her car broke down! Getting the vehicle back to safe, running condition wouldn’t have happened without MicroGrants. Gail says,"I had just gotten out of school and didn’t have the extra cash. With your help I got the auto repairs done, I have advanced in my career and I already saved enough money to buy my first new car. Without your help, I’d have definitely missed work and possibly lost my job which I worked so hard to get!” Jerry Evans, Outstanding PersistenceJerry Evans is the Outstanding Persistence Award winner, working with Gina DeNardo of EMERGE. At only 22 years old, Jerry has a clear vision of being a successful business owner. Working with EMERGE, Jerry graduated property management training and along the way, saw himself as a property owner too. The MicroGrants helped him cover the tuition of his real estate classes and license. Jerry declares, “I now own a property management company and a property! While I’m growing my management company, I intend to sell a certain number of houses each year. I am on track for success, and I acknowledge that my successes aren’t solely based upon my efforts and hard work but upon my accountability to others and the relationships I’ve built.” Mitchel Anderson, Outstanding Creative UseMitchel Anderson won for Outstanding Creative Use working with Samantha Oakes of Project for Pride in Living (PPL). From successful photographer to several years homeless to Salvation Army to PPL and into Cabrini Housing! Nominated for MicroGrants, Mitchel was able to purchase a digital camera system to reopen his business. Mitchel remarks, “The $1000 grant really got things going for me again. I’ve shot weddings and fine art, my home is acting as a gallery and studio and I will have my digital photography degree in two years! This is a dream come true!” Tanisha McGraw, Outstanding Strategic UseTanisha McGraw winner for Outstanding Strategic Use. Tanisha was caught in a cycle of temp jobs, some with overnight hours causing her to leave her teenage son home alone all night; something had to change! She learned about Twin Cities RISE and saw that it had what she wanted - a better life, a better future. She immediately enrolled in classes and was passing every one of them in the 95 percentile! Tanisha shakes her head, “Then my car broke down and it was clear that I would have to leave TCR classes and go back to temping so I could get my car working again. But MicroGrants allowed me to fix my car, finish my classes and I’ve landed a great job where I’m required to have a reliable car to transport and visit clients!“ Tseregeda Cherinat, Outstanding EntrepreneurshipTseregeda Cherinat vision, motivation, determination, and even clients.She had everything to open her own sewing and alteration business - well, everything but the money to purchase the sewing machine and serger. Tsegereda shares, “It was either pursue my sewing business or give up the dream and get a job just to pay the bills. I will always be grateful for your help in getting the supplies I needed to get my business started and make my living at what I love to do!"