The Little Grant that Could

  • The grant almost all businesses can use
  • Deadline is February 9, 2018
  • Memories of Ralph and my time at the Alberta Legislature

I should have done this blog a long time ago.

But it’s better late than never.

Don’t Wait! Download our “Three Steps to Winning a Government Grant” PDF here –

Normally I write about technology, environment, and agriculture grants. But what about grants for everyone else?

Today I’m writing about the “mom and pop” shops, the plumbers, the small business owner who isn’t reducing GHG emissions but making her living as an interior designer, sales person, or hair dresser.

Put simply, as someone like the late-premier Ralph Klein would say, “what about the rest of us?”

Aside: I was in a press conference when Ralph Klein was defending his “Ralph Bucks.” Remember those days? Wow how times changes, but we’re [Alberta] coming back baby. You can’t keep this province down forever. People talk about the “entrepreneurial spirit” these days across North America, but this province has it in its blood.  That’s why so many Canadians and first-generation Canadians have stuffed all their belongings in a hockey bag (shout out to one of my best friends Marc) or the trunk of their Toyota Corolla in hopes of bigger dreams. Man, I love this place more and more every year. Here is a picture I took skiing last weekend a few hours from Calgary in our neighbouring province:

Fernie, BC. I’m about to go down this blue run. I need more lessons to handle these steeper runs. This lack of skiing skill is a clear differentiator between my Alberta-based born friends and I who was born and raised in New Brunswick…at least for me.

If you have any great history books about Alberta you recommend, can you please let me know or paste in my LinkedIn or Facebook comments. I would like to draw on some history as I improve my blog content.

Anyway I digress, back to Ralph. He was dividing up the government surplus 1/3, 1/3, and 1/3.

1/3 was going directly to Albertans in the form of $400 cheques. Simply known around these parts as “Ralph bucks.” Hilarious, huh?

Not surprisingly, a lot of people were freaking out. Many were saying that the money should be going to education, healthcare, infrastructure. All legitimate places, so the reporters this day were just hammering Ralph with the questions.

The reporters were asking all these questions, and he gave one of the greatest political quotes of all time. I looked online but couldn’t find it. It was in the SUN, so if you have it, please send to me or paste below. His comments went like this:

“I was working out at a fancy club in Calgary. Doctors coming up to me were saying “put the money in healthcare. Lawyers were coming up and saying “education.” And some rich guys were saying infrastructure. But when I went into the locker room, the guy throwing towels in the basket said, “hey Ralph, thanks for the bucks.”

Ralph knew how to communicate difficult subject matter in a clear way. That skill is the number one skill for great grant writing.

With that little story as our background, I want to talk about you about the little grant that could: Summer Temporary Employment Program (STEP).

I’ve been in this space for over five years, completely niched in grants for over two years.

Since in every election voters hear the same thing: “small business drives our economy.”

Small businesses are defined as having fewer than 50 employees. About 96 per cent of businesses in Alberta are small businesses according to the Alberta government website.

“Small businesses” qualify for some grants, but they are harder to find and understand.

STEP is an awesome little grant that can help your business continue to grow. Imagine all the tasks a smart student could help you with? Building systems and processes, building sales funnels, working on your social media? Just think about it.

Here are the details:

STEP is a 4 – 16 week wage subsidy program that provides funding to eligible Alberta employers to hire high school or post-secondary students into summer jobs from May to August. Summer positions created through STEP provide students with the opportunity to build meaningful work experience, increase their skills and workplace insight and help prepare them for the future.

A standardized wage subsidy of $7.00/hour to a maximum of 37.5 hours/week will be provided to approved applicants.

As of January 4, 2018 STEP is now accepting applications for 2018. The application deadline is February 9, 2018.

Business Eligibility

  • Eligible Employers (Positions/Year)
  • Small businesses excluding franchises and corporately owned chains (1-49 employees)            3
  • Non-profit organizations             3
  • Public Libraries 1
  • School boards (Public, Separate, Francophone)  2 – 5*
  • Municipalities, First Nations, and Métis Settlements        2 – 40*
  • Publicly funded post-secondary institutions in Alberta     10 – 35*

* Number of STEP allocations is based on size and scope of organization. See the STEP Guidelines for details.


  • At least 15 years of age
  • A Canadian citizen, a permanent resident, or protected person under the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and legally entitled to work and study in Canada.
  • International students and Temporary Foreign Workers are not eligible for STEP.
  • Resides and/or attends school in Alberta with an Alberta address
  • Returning to high school or a post-secondary institution no later than November 1.
  • Must be enrolled in a program that will result in a Certificate, Diploma, or Degree. Technical training for Apprenticeship is not eligible
  • Is available for full-time summer employment
  • Participates in only one STEP position during the summer
  • Not currently employed in the organization
  • Not immediately related to the owners or staff responsible for hiring in the organization

Check the STEP Guidelines for complete criteria. Get more details here:

Many of my readers have heard me say the big grants are in agriculture, technology, and environment. Export is up there too. And if you’re doing any of those things, drop me an email if you want to chat. You can reach me here:

Have a great day.


Alberta Business Grants


Don’t Wait! Download our “Three Steps to Winning a Government Grant” PDF here –