Rochester Emerging Talent and Innovations Network

RETAIN Monroe Grant Program

 [email protected] 
 Phone: 585-753-2000

Jump To Section: General | Eligibility | Application

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What is the program?

RETAIN Monroe addresses two serious workforce issues facing Monroe County: a job gap, where employers cannot find employees to fill specialized roles, and a low graduate retention rate that indicates that our top-tier talent is leaving the region for gainful employment elsewhere.  This innovative program offers recent graduates a $2,000 lump sum payment after having lived, worked and networked in Monroe County for one year.  These grants are offered directly through Monroe County employers, with the stipulation that the new hire have at least a four-year degree that is directly related to their position in Advanced Manufacturing, Life Sciences, Optics, Photonics and Imaging (OPI) or Software/IT.  By offering companies this valuable recruitment tool, Monroe County is promoting awareness of local opportunities, developing a more skilled talent pipeline and building relationships with local businesses.

Who qualifies as an eligible employee?

"New employees" refer to employees that are newly hired after a qualified business has been approved for the RETAIN Monroe Grant Program or employees that have been hired within the last 12 months.

In order to be eligible, new employees must have:

1. Graduated within three years from a college or university located in Monroe County and hold a four-year degree or a Master’s Degree;

2. Obtained or continued full-time employment at a business headquartered within Monroe County with 100 or less employees for one full year after the approval date of the RETAIN program;

3. Earned a degree that is directly linked to their employment;

4. That employment is in the job fields of Advanced Manufacturing, Life Sciences, Optics, Photonics and Imaging (OPI) or Software/ IT; and 

5. A starting annual salary no higher than $85,000.

What are the grant amounts?

After one year has passed, the recent graduate/ employee will be eligible to receive a one-time grant of $2,000 from the RETAIN Monroe program through their employer.   Employees that are already on company payroll will not be eligible to receive RETAIN Monroe funding until they have worked an additional full year after the approval date and their paperwork has been uploaded to the RETAIN Monroe portal.

How many employees can a business hire with the RETAIN Monroe Grant?

  • Businesses may claim up to five RETAIN Monroe grants ($10,000) for new employees per year.  
  • Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (MWBE) and Veteran-owned businesses with proper certification will not be subject to the $10,000 cap. 

When submitting an application to the RETAIN Monroe program, businesses must indicate how many future employees they plan to hire with RETAIN Monroe grant incentives.   If accepted into the program, the business will have six months to fill the approved positions with qualified candidates in the RETAIN Monroe portal.  If the documentation confirming the filled positions is not uploaded within six months, all unused spots will be relinquished to the next business on the waitlist.  Businesses may have the opportunity to reapply depending upon timing and availability of open positions.  

Please note that existing employees already on company payroll are only eligible for the RETAIN Monroe grant if they have been hired within the last 12 months and if they have a qualifying degree.  If an employee has been working with a company for 3 months, for example, they will not be eligible to receive RETAIN Monroe funding in another 9 months- this does not qualify as having worked for one year.  Current employees will need to remain employeed for one full year after the approval date to receive the RETAIN Monroe grant.

How many grants will be distributed?

In its pilot year, RETAIN Monroe has allocated $100,000 to distribute up to fifty grants to eligible recipients.

How do you decide who is selected to receive RETAIN Monroe grants and how many spots they are allotted?

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis.  RETAIN Monroe will prioritize minority and women-owned businesses as well as businesses in highly distressed zip codes.

How do I apply?

Visit the application page here to get started

When can I apply?

The RETAIN Monroe program is now open and accepting applications.  Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis.  If all fifty slots are filled, you will be placed on a waiting list but you may still apply for the RETAIN Monroe grant and wait for a slot to open.  We will inform you if and when you are accepted and an opening becomes available.

Is there a cost to apply?


I have more than one business.  Can I fill out an application for each of my companies?

Yes, you may fill out an application for each of your companies of which you are the majority owner, however you are still held to the five employee ($10,000) limit between all companies (unless you have an MWBE or veteran-owned business).

Will my information be kept private?

All information collected is used to evaluate your application.  All personal and business financial information will be kept confidential to the extent permitted by law.

How will grant funds be distributed?

Grant funds will be administered via check to the employer that submitted the application to RETAIN Monroe.  The employer is then responsible for providing the RETAIN Monroe grant dollars to the employee recipient.  Proof of this distribution must be uploaded to the RETAIN Monroe portal within sixty days.  

Is the grant amount considered taxable income?



Is there an age requirement to apply?

Yes, majority owners must be 18 years or older at the time of submission to apply.  Employees must also be 18 years or older to receive the RETAIN Monroe grant.

Can I apply for a grant if my company is based outside Monroe County, NY?

No. Only companies located in Monroe County, NY, with 90% of their employees working in Monroe County are eligible to apply.

I have a business that has multiple locations. When it is stated that the business must be 100 or fewer FTEs (full-time equivalents), does this apply to only one location, or does it apply to the company as a whole?

All employees count towards the 100 FTE census. To be eligible to receive the grant, 90 percent of the company’s employees must be based in Monroe County, NY.

Am I eligible if I live outside of Monroe County, NY?

As long as your business is located in Monroe County, NY, you are eligible to apply. Your personal residence does not impact this application.

What are the eligibility criteria for the business?

Companies must meet the following criteria to be considered eligible for a grant.

  • Business Type: For-profit companies; LLPs, LLCs, Sole Proprietorships, C-Corps, and S-Corps.
  • Location: Based in Monroe County, NY.
  • Employees: 100 or fewer W-2 based FTEs at the time of submitting your application.
  • Other: Companies must be able to provide evidence that the full-time employee hire has at least a four-year degree from a Monroe County college or university that is directly related to their position.   

Do part-time employees count as an employee?

Yes, any person on payroll counts as an employee; however, part-time employee hours need to be converted to FTEs to determine if the 100 employee FTE maximum is met (see the following question).

What constitutes a full-time equivalent (FTE) employee?

When an employer has a 40-hour workweek, employees scheduled to work 30 hours per week or more are considered 1.0 FTE. Employees scheduled to work less than 30 hours per week are considered 0.5 FTEs.

Do independent contractors and consultants count towards the employee criteria?

No, they do not count towards the employee total.

Is the grant program available to nonprofits or charities?

No, this program is only open to for-profit businesses.

Are there any other ineligibility criteria?

County-level elected officials and any immediate family members of County-level elected officials who have an ownership interest in a company are ineligible to apply.

Is the grant program available to franchises?

Franchises owned locally (not corporate franchises) with five or less locations do qualify. If each location is individually incorporated for the purposes of this program they will be considered as one entity due to ownership.

Are there any requirements regarding how grant recipients can spend the grant money?

No, recipients will receive their $2,000 grant payment to use without restrictions.  Monroe County businesses can utilize this recruiting tool as a signing bonus or a retention incentive.  Young professionals benefit by having additional financial resources to start their career path on the right foot and the agency to use the grant dollars as they see fit. 

Does my business need to be open to apply? 

Yes, your business must be open and operational at the time of application. Employees must be employed full-time for a full year to receive the RETAIN Monroe grant.


How do I apply?

Step 1 - Create your company profile and upload the following information into the RETAIN Monroe portal.

  • Employer Identification Number (EIN); 
  • NYS-45 for companies with employees (sole proprietors will not submit this document); and
  • A Form W-9 for the business that will receive the grant.

Step 2 - If your business is approved and allocated RETAIN Monroe grant slots, recruit and hire eligible employees to fill the slots within 6 months.  

Step 3 - Submit the following information into the RETAIN Monroe portal after hiring an eligible employee.

  • College transcripts for each employee applicant; and 
  • Proof of employment for each employee applicant.

Step 4 - Submit the following information after employees have successfully completed one year of employment.

  • Proof of continuous employment for each employee applicant; and
  • Proof of payment to the student (within sixty days after grant proceeds are distributed).

When should I expect to hear back as to whether or not my company will receive funding?

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis.  When your application is submitted, you will receive an email confirmation with additional details about the RETAIN Monroe grant process.  Please allow 2-4 weeks for processing.

Can I edit my application after submitting it?

You can edit your company profile at any time, but the application is NOT editable after you hit the submit button. You can save and edit your application as many times as needed before hitting submit. We recommend that you take your time reviewing your application and ensuring all information is correct before submitting.

If your application is submitted and approved, you can then continue to add employee information and paperwork for the number of slots you have been allotted.  We highly encourage you to update this information and paperwork as soon as possible.  Once you are allotted slots, businesses have six months to fill the slots with qualified applicants.  If you are unable to fill those slots and do not upload the required paperwork within the timeframe, your slot(s) will no longer be available to you and they will be transferred to the next applicant on the waiting list.  

Is it “first-come, first-eligible served,” or will you wait until the application deadline before you start to make decisions?

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis.  RETAIN Monroe will emphasize diversity and equitable growth when distributing funds, prioritizing minority and women-owned businesses as well as businesses in highly distressed zip codes.  If some of the applicants do not meet their hiring goals or do not supply the necessary paperwork, their spots will be relinquished to the next applicants on the waiting list.

Will the Program accept applications from undocumented immigrant and refugee business owners?

Businesses must be owned by individuals who are work authorized. Refugees can apply and are encouraged to do so.

Do I need to pay the money back if I receive the grant?

No, recipients are not required to pay the money back. The RETAIN Monroe grant program is not a loan.

Are applicants subject to a background check?

To ensure funding is only made available to eligible and legitimate businesses, applications will be subject to a multilayered due diligence process, including but not limited to background checks to ensure the business is using a proper tax identification number and that the business is properly registered.