Founders First CDC (Founders First), a national 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that empowers expansion in diverse founder-led, revenue-generating businesses, is pleased to announce that applications are open for qualified individuals to apply to its 2022 Stephen L. Tadlock Fund – a grant program to support U.S. veteran small business owners. To be eligible, the company’s founder must be a U.S. military veteran, have an active U.S.-based business, and employ between 2 and 50 employees. Applications are being accepted now through October 18, with recipients being announced on Veterans Day, November 11, 2022.

Inspired by Founders First CEO Kim Folsom’s brother, U.S. Navy Veteran Stephen L. Tadlock, the purpose of the grant is to provide micro-investments to veterans who own and operate small businesses. The $25,000 grant will be awarded to 25 veteran recipients who will receive $1,000 each, which will help aid in their employer-based small businesses. Since launching, Founders First CDC has awarded more than $423,000 to minority and underserved business owners throughout the United States with a focus on Texas, Chicago, Southern California, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. 

“Given the current state of our economy, small business owners are feeling the brunt of the rising cost of living, inflation and the challenges to provide goods and services for their customers,” says Shaylon Scott, executive director, Founders First CDC. “As our founder, Kim Folsom has strong ties to the military through her brother’s service in the U.S. Navy, this particular grant is incredibly special to Founders First, as we’re able to help veteran business owners by investing in their businesses during uncertain economic times. Grants such as these, no matter how large or small of an investment, are a vital and impactful way to help sustain businesses and provide growth opportunities, and we are incredibly proud to support veterans throughout the country during this critical time.”

According to the latest U.S. Census Bureau’s survey of small business owners, there are more than 2.5 million veteran majority-owned businesses in the U.S. that employ more than 5 million individuals. As a result, these businesses generate a revenue of more than $1.14 trillion, and account for an annual payroll of $195 billion.

“I’ve seen firsthand through my brother’s experience in the U.S. Navy and reentry into civilian life, that American veterans give back to our country each and every day, and following their service it’s critical that they receive support from family, friends and local communities to thrive in their careers following their service,” says Kim Folsom, Founder and CEO of Founders First. “As veteran owned businesses are critical contributors to the small business community, I’m proud extend this fund for the second year in a row to veteran business owners who need the extra boost of funding; as these funds help aid in creating premium wage jobs and drive economic growth in communities, which need it most during this critical, and uncertain economic time.”

The judging committee for the Stephen L. Tadlock Grant includes a panel of distinguished veterans, representing multiple branches of service.

“As a recipient of the 2021 Stephen L. Tadlock Grant, I can tell you first-hand that having this support is incredibly impactful for veteran business owners.,” says Tahjar Roamartinez, CEO and founder of Cyber Warfighter Group and 2021 Stephen L. Tadlock Grant recipient.  “Founders First made myself and other veterans feel embraced, encouraged, equipped and empowered, and I encourage any veteran who is a small business owner to apply for this grant, as you will quickly learn that Founders First understands the value of what we’ve done at the highest level of our nation, and is ready to help equip us for the next chapter of our journey in corporate America.”

Qualified business owners may apply for the grant by October 18, at foundersfirstcdc.org/stephen-tadlock.  Grant recipients will be announced on Veterans Day, November 11, 2022.