Small Business Flood Recovery Grants

The devastating fall 2021 flooding damaged many small businesses in hard hit Whatcom County communities, from property to revenue and job loss. Those businesses are the life blood of their communities, providing jobs, products and services, and contributing to local character. Businesses typically have access to federal and other forms of disaster assistance only through borrowing. As a business owner, your needs vary. Some can access low-interest loans or other capital on their own. Others need grants to remain or reopen. That’s why the Whatcom Small Business Disaster Recovery Fund (WSBDR Fund) was created. The Fund is providing resources to support and invest in the recovery and resilience of Whatcom County’s flood affected small businesses to preserve community character and foster economic viability.

Recovery Grants are intended to help cover essential expenses, including rent, payroll, repairs and mitigation measures to better face future disasters. The information you share in your application will help local partners better understand the impacts of the flooding as well as better support your recovery needs going forward.

If you receive a Whatcom Small Business Flood Recovery Grant, please be prepared to complete a brief survey 6 months and 12 months after your award. Your responses will help us improve the program!

Thank you for all you and your business do to contribute to the livelihoods and character of your community. 

Grant Amount: Grants up to $5,000.

General Timeline

• April 15th - May 3rd, 11:59 PM: Portal for applications is closed.

• Incomplete applications will not be considered after the window to apply closes.

 Early May: Notification of grant awards.

• By May 20th: Funds will be dispersed to successful grantees.

The Whatcom Small Business Flood Recovery application

 is now closed.

How to Apply

You will need to set up an account to apply online.

Whatcom has partnered with LiveStories/FORWARD to manage the application process and distribute funds.

To access the online application form, you will need to set up an account in FORWARD.

On the login page, click on the link to "Create business, non-profit, or landlord account" You will be prompted to register for an account; the prompt will ask for your Business/Organization name and email address.

Once you have entered that, FORWARD will send an email to create a secure password. After you set your password, login and start the application process. Please check your SPAM/Junk folder if you don’t receive the email.

We recommend using Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Apple Safari as browsers.

If your application is successful, you will be notified by email early May. At that point, you will be asked to provide the address that you would like to receive your paper check; in most cases, the address you have provided on your W-9 will be utilized.

Grant payments will be made in May.

Please note: Communications about the application and award will come by email from forward-notification@livestories.com. Please make sure to check your spam folders as the award emails will come from LiveStories/FORWARD on behalf of the Fund. Please be sure to monitor your email, including Junk or "spam" folders.

Eligibility Requirements

The business must:

• Have been operating prior to November 13, 2021

• Be open or intend to reopen

• Be registered with the city in which they do business (if applicable)

• Have a state Business License, or explanation as to why a state business license is not required

• Have annual pre-flood gross receipts of $5 million or less

Application Information to have ready

• Proof of address for the Business - Acceptable documentation includes Utility Bill, Government Correspondence, Cellular Bill, Media Statement, Inventory Payment Invoice, Lease, Mortgage, or similar.

Completed W-9

• Confirmation of active State of Washington Business Registration status

•  2019 Tax return or proof of revenue of $5 million or less.

How to Create an account in FORWARD

Frequently Asked Questions


How will the applications be reviewed?

The Whatcom Community Foundation has contracted LiveStories to facilitate the Whatcom Small Business Flood Recovery Grant application process using their FORWARD platform. A selection committee will review and approve all applications. Submission of an application does not guarantee approval.

How long will I have to apply once the application portal opens?

The portal will be open for 16 days. It will open on April 15th and close on May 3rd at 11:59 PM PST.

Is this grant program first come, first served?

No. All applicants who meet eligibility requirements and apply between April 15th and close on May 3rd at 11:59 PM PST will be considered.

Are there restrictions to the way the funds can be used?

Uses of Funds: Grants may be used for rent/mortgage, payroll, and other operating expenses. The funds are intended to keep your business open and operating and be used accordingly to achieve that goal.

Is there a deadline to spend the funds?

There is no deadline to spend the funds. You will be contacted for a brief survey 6 months and 12 months after your award. 

Are there Linguistic/Translation services available?

Our online application can be translated to any of the 68 languages we have provided.


What is an EIN or TIN #?

An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is also known as a Federal Tax Identification Number (TIN) and is used to identify a business entity. Generally, businesses need an EIN. Like a Social Security number, the EIN number is nine digits long and assigned by the federal government. The IRS uses the number to identify taxpayers who are required to file various business tax returns.

Will I receive a notification that my application has been received?

Yes. You will receive an email confirmation from forward-notification@livestories.com once your application is received. Check your spam/junk folder if you do not receive an email shortly after submitting your application.

Will I be able to edit my submission after applying? Should I make an error?

No. However, if you need to correct an error, please get in touch with forward-support@livestories.com, and our team can work with you to provide additional and correct information to your application.

Logistics and Portal Questions

Why is the application period only open for a limited time?

Due to the limitations on the funding and the urgency of need, the application period is limited. If additional funding becomes available, the portal may be reopened. 

Who do I contact for help?

The LiveStories/FORWARD Technical Support will be provided by phone and/or email to any applicants with questions related to the FORWARD platform. For technical support, call (855) 582-3973 or email forward-support@livestories.com. The hours for the support line are as follows: 8:00 AM - 6:00 PM Monday-Friday.

Who is LiveStories and FORWARD?

The Whatcom Community Foundation has partnered with LiveStories/FORWARD to manage the application process and distribute awards. LiveStories is a Washington state technology company that powers the FORWARD application portal. LiveStories offers application services for programs such as this nationwide.

Grant Awards

What is the maximum amount of the grant?

Grants will be up to $5,000.

How will I be notified if I am awarded a grant?

You will receive an email from forward-notification@livestories.com notifying you if you have been awarded a grant and included in the email will be "Next Steps".

Is this grant taxable income?

Your accountant can advise you of any tax obligations regarding this grant.

Does anything need to be repaid?

No, these grants do not need to be repaid. However, all taxes associated with the acceptance and/or uses of cash awarded are the sole responsibility of the individual grantee. Please contact your financial advisor or the Department of Revenue for questions related to your own situation.

Will receiving a grant impact other federal assistance or unemployment insurance eligibility?

You will need to check with those assistance providers.

How long will it take for a successful applicant to receive an award and in what format?

Once all submissions are reviewed, awardees will be notified via email to take the following steps in the granting process by early May. They will be asked to sign a grant agreement and provide the address to receive a paper check. Once both the grant agreement is signed and address information is verified, grant awardees can expect to receive payment via USPS within a few business days.

How will the Whatcom Community Foundation grants be distributed?

The Whatcom Community Foundation's partner, LiveStories, will be sending out paper checks via USPS to the address on your W-9 or other location you designate.

Will there be more grant opportunities?

Additional small business funding may be provided through federal or state government action. Please visit SDBC's Resource Center to learn more. The account you create with FORWARD will also host other Business programs and business resources for you to apply.

The Whatcom Community Foundation and Whatcom Business Recovery Task Force are committed to helping all businesses, especially small business owners, navigate available resources to help our region's economy get back on track.