United Way of Greater Newark awarded funding to support small business education program

NEWARK, NJ — United Way of Greater Newark was awarded a $30,000 grant from Santander Bank to support technical assistance provided to small businesses through the Greater Newark Enterprises Corp.’s BackStop Program.

The BackStop Program explores three tracks that small businesses can enroll in to enhance their backend systems and processes. The year-long tracks teach bookkeeping; building business credit; and branding, website and digital marketing. United Way of Greater Newark, the Greater Newark Enterprises Corp. and other Newark Asset Building Coalition partners identified these tracks as most beneficial for small businesses.

“United Way of Greater Newark is intertwined within the community and understands the needs of those that we serve — including small businesses,” UWGN President and CEO Catherine Wilson said. “This knowledge is key when collaborating on and supporting initiatives like the BackStop Program. Working with the Greater Newark Enterprises Corp. allows us to provide crucial educational services to enhance sustainability for small businesses.”

Both UWGN and GNEC provided assistance to small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. United Way helped facilitate emergency assistance with its Small Business Grants Program, while GNEC provided microbusiness loans. During the application and funding process, United Way found that 35 percent of applicants did not qualify for assistance because they lacked various technical components essential to operating a business. 

“We were disappointed when we had to turn away business owners who didn’t meet eligibility criteria because of gaps in their applications,” UWGN Director of Financial Stability Danielle Corea-Smith said. “Some businesses couldn’t give the proper financial information or proof of liability insurance, for example. It made me realize there was room for assisting some of these owners with deepening their hard skills in financial management, bookkeeping and other areas.”

The application process shed light on serious issues that prevent small businesses from achieving assistance and hurt their long-term chances at sustainability. Filling these necessary technical gaps was the driving force behind the BackStop Program.

“At GNEC we understand that running a business is a complicated task, so with the help of UWGN, we’ve designed BackStop to allow entrepreneurs to focus on their strengths while providing experts to help them with back-office tasks that entrepreneurs might not have the skills or time to undertake,” GNEC Executive Director Victor Salama said. “Our three tracks are allowing microbusiness owners to survive challenging economic times and start positioning themselves for growth.”

The BackStop Program costs businesses $300 for each one-year track and can be applied for by contacting program Director Al Alvarez at aalvarez@gnecorp.org or 973-242-5564. T

“You get a lot of really passionate people that are entrepreneurs or small business owners and sometimes these are the little pieces that can hold them back from achieving their dreams,” Corea-Smith said. “They are the ones that I see programs like this supporting. This program can help make someone’s dream operationalized.”