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While the Library is temporarily closed due to the Coronavirus, the PowerUP! competition will continue in an online format. Please see the sidebar to the right for instructions on the online orientation process and how to apply. Additionally, PowerUP! entrants can access a selection of business resources from home.  If the link is not clickable, please copy and paste this URL into your browser’s address bar:

PowerUP! Business Plan Competition

Win $20,000 to start your own business in Brooklyn! Enter our annual PowerUP! competition to gain valuable financial and marketing skills, learn from local business mentors, and compete for our biggest cash prize ever to help fund your dream.

You must be 18 years of age or older, live in Brooklyn and plan to start a business in Brooklyn. Participants must attend an orientation to apply. 

Since 2003, we have nurtured 8,750 individuals with over 1,150 business plans and awarded more than $450,000 to Brooklyn entrepreneurs. Our success stories include more than 80 companies with passion for food and drink, health and wellness, arts and crafts, media and fashion, education, social justice, and cultural diversity –everything that makes Brooklyn great.

Some early winners, like Bogota Latin Bistro and Greenlight Bookstore, have become local institutions, while recent winners hope to be the next generation of Brooklyn destinations.

In the spirit of the Library, we welcome all Brooklyn residents. Among our 2019 participants, 27% are immigrants/foreign born, 67% are women, and 80% have never owned a business.


  • Entrants must be 18 years of age or older, live in Brooklyn and plan to start a business in Brooklyn.
  • Winners will receive cash awards as seed capital to start a business in Brooklyn. Cash prizes of $20,000 for first place, $10,000 for second place, $5,000 for third place, and $1,000 for five merit winners will be awarded. Also, one of the merit winners will be chosen by the audience to receive an additional $1,000!
How can I apply?

All prospective applicants must attend one orientation before applying. The orientation explains all the details of applying to and participating in the competition. Orientations are now online; see the box on the right to apply.

  • Participants must attend an orientation, get a Brooklyn Public Library Card, see a business advisor, and attend a minimum of 3 PowerUP! classes.
  • Participants attend classes at the Library on creating business plans, marketing, financial projections, and doing market research. The financial projections class is mandatory.
  • Participants are connected to organizations in the community who offer free business counseling.
  • Business plans must follow the format and guidelines provided by the competition. Previously written plans must be revised to comply with the competition guidelines.

A well-researched plan that follows the guidelines and clearly shows:

  • A need and use for the financial award
  • How your business will provide needed products or services to the community
  • How your business will be viable and successful
  • We no longer offer the PowerUP! KREYòL competition. Language support will be provided for those who speak Kreyòl and want to enter PowerUP!


PowerUP! Business Plan sponsor list
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