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American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA):

City of Reading Small Business Grant

2024/2025 Small Business Grant Application Guide

 Download guideline PDF here

Funding Details


  • $1 million dollars reserved to incentivize downtown small business improvements and development.
    1. Including a maximum allocation of up to $50,000 per business entity located in the central core (Penn St 2nd to 11th). This would yield at least 20 possible projects.
  • $1 million dollars for small businesses throughout the City, located outside the central core.
    1. Maximum allocation will not exceed $25,000 for any single entity. This would allow the potential to service nearly 40 possible projects.
  • These are unique, one-time federal dollars that need to be
  • Funds will need to be fully spent by June 30,
  • Funded business organizations will sign a Grant Agreement with the City of Reading.
  • Reporting: impact storytelling via narrative storytelling, disaggregated data reporting, and financial reporting (submit receipts with narrative of activities) will be required quarterly.
  • Funds are delivered in installments with a possible 50% advancement to help kickstart activities, remainder of the funds will be reimbursed based on actual expenditures, and mid-cycle reporting.

Funding Period

The funding period is January 1, 2024 – June 30, 2025.

  • Funding may support eligible expenses incurred during the funding
  • To receive funding, a business organization must be selected for an award and submit a detailed project proposal.

As potential recipients of ARPA funds, note that all applicants must be capable of managing their program(s) efficiently and in compliance with federal ARPA regulations.



To be eligible for the ARPA Grant, a small business must meet the following criteria:

  • Available to businesses that have not received pandemic-related funding from other sources. *Exceptions: You were a recipient of the City/CFF loan forgiveness program*
  • Were in business prior to March 3, 2020.
  • Had a drop in revenue directly attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • 25 or fewer employees (including the business owner/worker) which shall be based on number of employees as of 1/1/2020.
  • Licensed to do business in the Commonwealth of PA and in the City of Reading
  • Business is not facing any pending litigation or legal action which could negatively impact their ability to complete and sustain the project or purpose for which the funds are being awarded.
  • Business is physically located in the City of Reading.
  • Business is not restricted to patrons over the age of 18. (For example, bars who only serve patrons over 21 would not be eligible)

Eligible Uses

Awarded small businesses will only use grant funds for approved, allowable functions:

  • To mitigate financial hardships including, but not limited to:
  • Impacts of periods of business closure.
  • Increased costs, mortgage, rent or utilities, and other operating costs.
  • Mitigation for social distancing, cleaning, barriers, and other health and safety investment/upgrades.
  • Business development (e.g., ecommerce sites, marketing, new lines, or new buildouts).
  • Capital expenditures.

Ineligible Uses

The following is a non-exhaustive list of examples of disallowable functions for grant funds:

  • Paying off non-business debt, such as personal credit cards for purchases not associated with the business.
  • Purchase personal expenses such as buying a new family car or making repairs to a home.
  • Direct financing to political activities.
  • Paying off taxes and fines or lawsuits (legal fees, court costs, judgments).
  • Food and entertainment
  • Bonuses
  • Travel not associated with direct business operations.

Dates and Deadlines


Date (subject to change)

Activity / Deliverable


Tuesday, August 01, 2023

Application available on the City of Reading ARPA Small Business website

Optional link available on the City of Reading website


City Of Reading, PA (




Wednesday, August 23, 2023 & Wednesday, September 06, 2023

Register for Technical Assistance via zoom-virtual meeting:


Optional- link on the City of Reading website

(9:30am – 10:30am)

City Of Reading, PA (

Friday, September 29, 2023 (5pm)


Please submit by 5pm EST

October 02, – November 15, 2023

Review Panel Meets

Funding recommendations

Monday, December 05, 2023

Funding Decisions Announced

Recipients notified via email

Week of January 08, 2024

Grant Agreement Signed

Signatures via DocuSign

    March 29, June 28, & September 27, December 2024, and March 2025

Quarterly Monitoring

Report data and finance details

Friday, December 27, 2024

50% ARPA 2024 Funding Expended

Submit invoices & documentation

Monday, June 30, 2025

ALL ARPA 2024 Funding Expended

Submit final invoices & documentation

Monday, July 28, 2025

Final Report Due


Submit to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Additional Details


  1. Recipient organizations is subject to records monitoring related to the program or project receiving assistance, including verification of residency/address of clients benefiting from the funding.
  1. Additional terms and conditions set forth in a Grant Agreement signed by both the grantee and the City. (Examples available for review upon request)

Application Basics

How To Apply:

  1. Click the application link
  2. Complete all questions in the
  3. Upload any additional documents that are requested within the
  4. Submit the application by September 29, 2023, before 5:00pm
  5. During the application process, you will also need to complete a Financial Risk Evaluation Questionnaire. You can download this form directly from City of Reading, PA ( in the documents section (Step 3).


The Application can be repeatedly accessed and saved in City of Reading, PA ( before submission. The website will automatically save the information you enter, however; it is recommended that applicants back up their responses in a Word document so you can easily copy and paste responses.

If you have questions about this application, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  to ensure a timely response.

Technical Assistance:

City staff will be available to answer technical questions in both a group format as well as one-on-one sessions upon request. Technical assistance is encouraged.

An optional technical assistance session will be available in a group format via zoom on the following date: (date subject to change) Friday, August 18th, 2023, | 9:30am – 10:30pm


If you have questions, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to ensure a timely response.



Financial Risk Questionnaire

During the application process, a supplemental Financial Risk Questionnaire is required to be completed in order to be considered for this award. The Questionnaire will help confirm that your organization has the accounting practices needed to track funding and will provide opportunities for the City to address any concerns before contracting begins.

The Board will not consider this information when making award decisions. However, applicants must provide satisfactory answers in order to accept a funding award. City staff will review the Questionnaire answers and will give an opportunity to the applicant to address any concerns. The City retains the right to revoke the award decision if the applicant cannot provide a satisfactory answer.

Please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to ensure a timely response if you have questions.

Application Review & Evaluation

Review Process

An internal committee consisting of 3-5 members shall review all applications and provide a funding recommendation to Council by early December. Project Coordinators Jamar Kelly and Kenya Edmonds shall be members if the Committee. The remaining member(s) shall be department directors.

Follow-up questions may be generated for the applicants during this process, with questions being emailed to the primary application contacts for response.

Evaluation Method & Criteria

Each grant application will be scored busing a weight-based rubric that will evaluate the proposal’s potential attainment of the following criteria:

  • Programming results in impactful benefits to the clients and/or the community
  • Clear Nexus with COVID-19 pandemic recovery
  • Advances the City’s Strategic Objective Related to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
  • Innate score of individual review committee members

The complete Scorecard that the Board will use when making decisions is available in the appendix.

Applicants will be notified of the outcome of the committee’s deliberation session after final recommendations are completed in early December 2023.

Following approval of funding, staff will collaborate with applicants that were awarded funds on other due diligence items and contract execution.

Open Process

The City of Reading maintains an open process and encourages applicants to ask for help at any time during the submission process.


The federal government has advised all jurisdictions that a federal audit of ARPA funding will occur periodically. In addition, ARPA recipients are subject to the same audit requirements as the ARPA recipient, i.e., the City of Reading. To prepare for audit, the City of Reading requires all ARPA funding recipients to provide quarterly reporting on related finances and pre-determined measurable outcomes and submit to recipient monitoring by the City. In addition, ARPA recipients will need to retain documentation to corroborate the reporting and the City of Reading may request a spot file audit to verify that the documentation is occurring and accurately represents the reporting.

In addition, an annual report at the conclusion of the funding period will be required. This report will include similar information from the quarterly reports but may request additional information such as qualitative data like testimonials.


Please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to ensure a timely response if you have questions.

The City of Reading will make reasonable accommodations for access to City services, programs and activities and will make special communication arrangements for persons with disabilities. All venues for participation in this process are fully accessible. Please call 877.727.3234 for assistance. Auxiliary aids and service aids are available for persons with disabilities. V/TDD: Dial 711 for PA Relay Services. All materials are available in Spanish or other languages on request. Please call 877.727.3234 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.