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Government Grants

Learn how to find and apply for government grants.

Government grants can be acquired for a variety of reasons. [©Shutterstock, 2010]
©Shutterstock, 2010
Government grants can be acquired for a variety of reasons.

The U.S. federal government offers government grants to individuals and various organizations. Within the federal government, there are 26 agencies that collectively offer 1,000 grants each year. Federal grant money is not given out as a loan to further personal or organizational goals. Government grants are given out by federal agencies with the intent that the grantees use the money to further that agency's goals. The money does not need to be paid back like a loan, but detailed reporting and accounting are required, as well as specifics on the outcome of the program the grant money was intended for. Determining eligibility, finding a grant, applying and tracking the approval process can all be done online at Grants.gov as part of the E-Government initiative aimed at utilizing technology to better serve the general public. The Department of Health and Human Services is responsible for overseeing the Web site.

Determining Eligibility

Individuals, as well as the following organizations, are eligible for government grants:

  • Government organizations of the state, city, local, district and Native American variety, etc.
  • Educational organizations, such as public schools and universities
  • Public housing organizations
  • Nonprofit organizations
  • For-profit companies
  • Small businesses that meet the size requirements of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)

Finding Grants Online

All 26 federal agencies and their grant opportunities are listed together at Grants.gov. The Grants.gov Web site originated as a Grants Policy Committee (GPC) effort to make the government grant application process easier and more accessible to the public. Potential grant recipients can search by keyword, agency or category, or they can choose to do more in-depth searches to find the grant that will work with their organization. Once a company or individual has determined eligibility for a government grant, completing the application process online is the next step.

Applying for Government Grants

Organizations and individuals that have found government grants they wish to apply for must first register online with Grants.gov. Although organizations and individuals both have to register, the process for registering is different. It is important to note that someone who registers as an individual cannot apply for a grant that is only open to companies.

The steps to register as an organization or business include:

  • Contact D&B to receive a DUNS (Data Universal Numbering System) number.
  • The Authorized Organization Representative (AOR) uses the DUNS number to apply for a username and password from Operational Research Consultants (ORC), which is the company that Grants.gov uses to validate identity electronically.
  • Create an account with Grants.gov that is verified by an e-mail to the AOR.

Individuals do not need a DUNS number to register with Grants.gov. They do need to obtain a username and password from ORC and enter the Funding Opportunity Number (FON) of the grant they want to apply for on the appropriate page.

Once registration is complete, organizations or individuals can download the application package for the grant they wish to apply for. At this point, it is time to actually write the grant proposal. The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDC) offers advice and guidelines for successfully writing a grant proposal, including outlining project goals, creating a plan of action and planning a budget.

After the government grant proposal is finalized, the grant application package should be completed and submitted online through Grants.gov. The Web site automatically generates a tracking number for the grant submission that the applicant uses to easily monitor the approval process online.

Using Government Grants

Organizations and individuals who receive a government grant are required to use the funds as stated in the grant proposal. The agency that is responsible for the grant will require specific levels of reporting. Grantees are responsible for keeping accurate and up-to-date accounting records so the grantor can review and keep tabs on the progress. Documentation of the project the money was granted for is also required by the granting agency. This allows them to carefully watch where the money has gone and whether or not the grant money was put to good use. The standards may be different from agency to agency.

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