Through a unique partnership, government, nonprofit and the business community have come together to provide direct funding to small businesses disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Grant recipients for the SLO City Small Business Relief Fund were notified on Tuesday, September 22. 

“Our industry is one that has been majorly impacted, so my barbers and I are thrilled to be a recipient!” explained Jon Elliott of Mike’s Barber Shop. “This grant gives me more stability and hope that I will be able to rebound from this and grow my business back to where it was.”

“I went completely without income for months at the beginning of the pandemic,” shared Carmen Betancourt, owner of Little Bears Daycare. “As a home child care provider, my business and residence serve dual roles, and when one suffers it directly affects the other. I am grateful for this grant and reenergized to continue to serve the working families in our community with quality child care.”

Some recipients stated that they will use the funds for basic operating costs such as utilities, rent and payroll, while others said they would order new inventory or equipment. Others indicated the funds would be used to hire back employees as they rebuild their businesses and welcome more customers again.

“Our local, small business community continues to be disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Derek Johnson, City Manager. “This funding will provide some relief to support the economic stability, recovery and resiliency of SLO City small businesses. The City, SLO Chamber and The Community Foundation coming together during this challenging time is incredible and we have so much more work to do as a community.”

The application, open from August 10 – 24, saw an overwhelming response with more than 400 businesses applying to receive a grant. Through a rigorous screening process, all three organizations initially reviewed each application, and a committee made up of representatives with backgrounds and expertise in local business made the final determinations. 

In the end, 52 businesses across a breadth of industries throughout the city of San Luis Obispo received $5,000 each. Click here to view a full list of the recipients.

“The Community Foundation is honored to have had the opportunity to collaborate with the City of SLO, the SLO Chamber and our generous donors to provide support to our San Luis Obispo small businesses,” shared Foundation CEO Heidi McPherson. “When we work together we are all stronger, and we look forward to more public-private partnerships as philanthropy joins with business to support our community.” 

At this time, additional rounds of funding have not been scheduled, however the SLO Chamber would ask that any other businesses or citizens who would like to offer financial support please reach out. The funds for the SLO City Small Business Relief Fund came from the City of SLO’s CARES Act funding as well as from two private donors who wish to remain anonymous. 

“San Luis Obispo is truly a special place, and that was especially evident through this collaboration of government, business and nonprofit to give back to small businesses” said SLO Chamber President/CEO Jim Dantona. “We are grateful to do the work that we do at the Chamber, and even more grateful for opportunities like this one where we can help put funds directly into the hands of the Doers + Dreamers that help make our community the wonderful place it is.”

If you or your business is interested in donating to the SLO City Small Business Relief Fund, please contact Kaila Anderson at