Frequently Asked Questions

Eligibility

Do I have to be a member of AIME to participate?

No, membership is not required to apply, but membership in the AIME is encouraged for up to date information on all aspects of being an active member of the independent mortgage industry. If you are chosen to participate, you agree to be enrolled as a member at no cost.

How do I know if I am eligible to apply for a Spark program?

Please review the Spark eligibility criteria for the Spark small business grant program.

I meet the qualifications for more than one Spark program (Minorities in Mortgage and Women in Mortgage), which should I apply for?

Please apply for the program that best suits you. All applications will be reviewed based on the merits of their application and only one recipient will be selected at the discretion of the Application Review Committee.

I am a current retail mortgage professional interested in joining the wholesale channel to open my own brokerage, can I still qualify for the small business grant if I am part-way through the process?

Spark small business grant applicants may qualify if they have retail mortgage origination experience and are not currently working in the wholesale mortgage channel at the time of application review and are within the first 12 months of establishing their business. Please review the Spark eligibility criteria to make sure you qualify.

Can both myself and my business partner apply for the business grant separately if we both qualify?

To reach the most number of brokers across the country we will only accept one application per company.

Why are some programs focused on an individual’s disadvantaged status?

Spark makes grants and other opportunities available to further its support of the mortgage industry by seeking to help those who may have been historically overlooked or underserved in the mortgage industry. Due to various factors — geographic location, sex, age, ability and citizenship; for instance, some groups find themselves facing distinct disadvantages. These conditions may be lifelong, such as one’s ethnicity, or they may change throughout the life cycle, such as age. Certain programs seek to assist these groups to help them overcome these obstacles thus better serving the wholesale mortgage industry.

Are the current Programs the only ones under consideration at this time?

The Programs listed on the website are the only Programs under consideration at that time. Future rounds of any particular program or repeats of certain programs may be available and will be posted on the website.

Will you provide guidance on an application before I submit it?

No. We cannot provide individual guidance on applications either before or after submission. You should decide if your application meets the criteria of one of the available programs, or sign up to receive updates on future topics.

What are the criteria for selection?

Panels of reviewers will be encouraged to champion applications based on the criteria stated in the rules of each particular program.

How many awards will be funded or granted for each Program?

We anticipate providing program benefits in accordance with the rules for each of the Programs. The funding for each program may vary and any particular award of program benefits may be dependent on the quality of applications received. The granting of program benefits is subject to the sole discretion of the Application Review Committee.

What is the relationship between AIME and IGNITE and SPARK?

The Association of Independent Mortgage Experts (AIME) is a 501 C (6) non-profit organization that provides support to wholesale mortgage professionals. Ignite is a mortgage career training program designed to provide scholarships for interested individuals who wish to pursue a career in the wholesale mortgage industry. Spark is a 501 C (3) non-profit organization that provides small business grants for experienced retail mortgage professionals who wish to start their own wholesale mortgage brokerage.

Where a Program awards financial grants, how much money can I expect in the form of a grant?

The amount of each grant depends on the Program and the funding for that particular Program. Grants may range from $7,000 to a maximum of $50,000.

Can I submit multiple applications for the same program?

Only one application can be submitted per applicant, so please do not submit multiple applications. However, multiple submissions from individuals at a company or organization may be allowed. For example, a single company could apply three times to a single program for educational benefits for 3 employees.

Will you provide guidance on an application before I submit it?

No. We cannot provide individual guidance on applications before or after submission.

Application Process

Is there anything I can prepare now to be ready when applications open on December 1st?

Yes! For the small business grant, you can begin preparing your business plan, if you don’t already have one. All applicants can gather (2) professional, (2) community, and (1) personal references. Please also include an updated professional resume. Read How to Apply for Spark for additional information about what is required during the application process.

How do I apply for a program?

Please visit aimespark.com for step-by-step instructions on how to apply for a particular program. All applicants must complete the application form specific to the Program they are seeking based on the Program benefits. You must submit your application through our online portal or other authorized channel in order to have your application considered.

Is there a specific format for the application?

Yes, please download and use the application form specific to the program you are applying to for your submission. Follow all formatting guidelines listed on this template as proposals that do not adhere to all restrictions may be disqualified.

Do I have to submit my proposal using the online application portal?

Yes. All applications must be submitted through the online application portal. Please read the Rules Guidelines specific to the program you are applying to for further details.

Am I able to edit my application once submitted?

Yes. You may edit and resubmit application content at any time prior to the close of the program.

When will I hear whether or not my application has been selected for participation in the program?

We expect award notifications to be sent out via email by March 31, 2021.

What feedback can I expect if my application is not selected?

We cannot provide feedback specific to the content of each program application. Similarly, we will not contact you if your application was not chosen for participation. We will, however, communicate with applicants once a decision has been reached for the chosen applicant to participate in the Program.

Are awarded participants announced publicly?

Yes. We will publicly announce the chosen participants by March 31, 2021.

I submitted my application but did not receive a confirmation. How would I know if my application went through?

Our system automatically sends an email when you submit your application. Please check your junk mail folder.

I missed the application deadline, can I still submit my application?

No. We can only accept applications during the open application period. Any applications submitted after the deadline indicated in the official rules submitted via email or otherwise will not be reviewed. We are continually renewing programs and all dates, and you can see if a current Program is open by visiting our website.

Review Process

Will my application be treated as confidential during the review process?

The application process has in place policies and procedures intended to restrict public dissemination of application materials. These policies and procedures include, when possible, having external reviewers sign confidentiality agreements and requiring that reviewers destroy or return to the Administrator all copies of information acquired or created during the course of performing a review. In some instances, however, we are unable to put in place confidentiality agreements or to police the use of application materials. You agree to public dissemination of your name and likeness once you agree to be a participant in any program.

Will there be any oversight of how the grant funds are used after they are distributed?

Yes, grant recipients will be required to submit Profit & Loss statements for the business following the disbursement of funds.

I applied for a grant, how can I spend my grant funds?

The full terms and conditions of the grant award are noted on the Grant Details page. Please note that grant funds are not allowed to be used for certain costs as detailed in the rules.

Are the Programs open to applicants from outside the United States?

There is currently a restriction to applicants who are legal residents of the United States as the mission is to support and benefit the wholesale mortgage industry in the United States.

What are the reporting or taxing requirements for the program benefits?

Please see your tax professional regarding the reporting or taxing of any program benefits. You are responsible for taxation and reporting requirements in your jurisdiction.

Contact

Who can I contact if I have a question about a particular program?

Please submit your program-related questions to spark@aimegroup.com. Due to the volume of requests, we will not be able to provide feedback on your individual application, but we can answer general questions regarding the application process.

Technical Support

Can I edit a previously submitted application?

No edits can be made to the application for a Spark program once submitted.

I’m having trouble uploading my application file. What should I do?

Your document must be saved with one of the following extensions: *.pdf, *.doc, or *.docx. Otherwise, try recreating your document using Microsoft Word, Adobe Acrobat, or Word Pad and uploading it again.

Where do I go for website related issues?

Please contact spark@aimegroup.com for questions and issues with using this site.

Where can I report broken links?

Please notify spark@aimegroup.com so we can repair them.

Selection Criteria

When will I be notified if I am selected to participate in a Spark program?

Spark recipients will be notified of selection by March 31, 2021.

Why wasn’t my application selected?

Given the size and nature of the program, we are not able to provide individualized feedback to each applicant. Generally, applications may be chosen for participation due to one of the following reasons, including but not limited to the following: the application is excluded from consideration for funding due to the Program eligibility requirements; it does not directly address the criteria chosen for that particular program or round; it is not complete; it does not describe how the applicant will serve the specific objective(s) to be accomplished by the goals of the program. Please understand that all decisions are final and subject to the sole discretion of the Spark Application Review Committee.

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