GOVERNMENT GRANTS-FINANCIAL AID FOR CITIZENS
The government gives grants to non-profits and non-government agencies to help provide public services and programs in a variety of areas such as agriculture, the arts and humanities, business and commerce, community development, disaster relief, education, employment and job training, energy, environment, housing, information, law and justice, national resources, science, technology, social services and transportation. There are approximately 26 federal government agencies that are involved in government grants and each state has their own agencies that also award grants for regional programs. Grants are available to groups such as minorities, women, disabled persons and small businesses. Government grants help students who are underprivileged and under-represented pay for their college education and training and help displaced workers obtain new training so they can re-enter the workforce and compete. In fact, you can pretty much find grants for just about anything. Grants made by the government are free and do not need to be repaid.
Applying for Grants
Applicants can apply directly to the federal government by visiting the grants.gov website and searching under the category of grant they are looking for. Federal grants are identified by a CFDA Number, Funding Opportunity Number, Competition ID and tracking number. So if you are a student looking for a college grant you would search under education, college grants or Federal Pell Grants. If you are looking for programs for at risk youth, you might try searching under criminal justice or the Department of Justice or even under youth grants. The other way to receive grant monies is to apply directly to your local and state agencies to find out what funds are available in your state or region. Pass through grant monies are given by the federal government to each state, and the states in turn distribute the funds directly or through local organizations that help the community at large with various programs including basic needs, arts, education, senior care, after school programs, healthcare, social services, research, science, math and other programs. When you apply for these grants, you must meet eligibility requirements and guidelines of the funder. You are also subject to reporting how you use the funds after you receive them, and you may be subject to audits by the government.
Tips on Writing Grants
Since there is so much competition for free grant money from the government, you should apply for a number of these types of grants as long as you are eligible to increase your funding opportunities. There is no guarantee that you will receive the funds, but the more grants you apply for, the better odds that you will receive some funds. Make sure you address the funder’s criteria and provide the proper supporting documents that the funder asks for. Each funder posts their criteria, application submission deadline and other guidelines on their website. Always check the exclusion category before you start your application to make sure your programs qualify for the funding. Otherwise, you are wasting your time and the funder’s time. If you do not qualify, then you will have to find another grant opportunity. It’s a good idea to ask for the full amount of the grant. Many times, you will only receive a portion, especially state grants where funds are even more limited. State and local agencies tend to give a portion of grant money to more applicants. Have a clear and concise mission statement demonstrating you understand the needs in your community and how your programs fulfill those needs, have documents supporting your programs available to submit with your application as well as a list of any awards or other type of recognition your organization has received to support your funding request. Having a track record of success helps you obtain repeat funds the next time the funder offers an opportunity as well.