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TWU offers $1 million in grants to women-owned small businesses impacted by coronavirus

Texas Woman’s University announced late last month they will award $1 million in grants to up to 100 women-owned small businesses in Texas to provide relief from financial strain caused by COVID-19.

With leadership from Shannon Mantaro, the director of the Center for Women’s Entrepreneurs, and through its partnership with the Jane Nelson Institute for Women’s Leadership, the center will dedicate its state funds to provide 100 AssistHer grants. Each grant will be worth $10,000, and available for women-owned small businesses in Texas, according to an email from Chancellor Carine Feyten.

“I continue to be amazed by the myriad of ways Texas Woman’s is responding to the times,” Feyton said. “From retired faculty’s moments of joy to the earnest rethinking about what each of us can do— and then stepping up to lead. I also continue to be mindful of the seriousness of the economic woes and lives we are saving by cooperating and working together.”

Shelley Christner, owner and artist at her shop, the Dime Store, has experienced firsthand the economic strain from the current pandemic. Located in Denton, the shop was forced to close its physical location indefinitely. 

“Just having our whole storefront shut down for an unknown amount of time,” Christener said. “Having just all the expenses and not knowing how we were going to have those expenses covered.”

Christener and her team moved their shop online for the time being. Even with these changes, she said making ends meet in a small business is not easy.

“One of my friends that owns a small business similar to the Dime store, she laid off all of her employees and is just trying to make it work and figure out the same things that we all are,” Christener said. “What kind of loans can we apply for, what kind of grants can we apply for, how do we keep this going?”

After hearing about the AssistHer grants through the Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship Instagram, Christener began filling out her application, and shared the news with friends, hoping the grant would benefit many within the small business community.

“There’s not a single life that hasn’t been touched,” Christener said.  “I don’t know if I’ll be in the running or not, but I am grateful for the opportunity for other women business owners. Even if I don’t receive it, I would be very happy for other women to receive it. I just pray that whoever needs it the most gets it.”

In a news release, the AssistHer grants received attention from state leader Celia Abbott, the governor’s wife.

“Small businesses are the heart of our communities and of this great state,” Abbott said. “In these challenging times, we especially need to encourage women to continue investing in their small businesses to help sustain local jobs and to help provide more financial security for more Texas families. By supporting our small businesses, we will overcome this challenge — we are #TexasStrong.”

Applications are currently being accepted and must be submitted electronically, amounting to no more than 10 pages. Eligible businesses must be women-owned, for-profit, operating within Texas and enduring economic hardship due to COVID-19.

To apply for the grant or see eligibility requirements, visit the AssistHer information webpage.

Joanna Simmons can be reached via email at

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