Federal Grants

The United States Government, through its numerous departments and agencies, provides grants in many areas. Questions abound as to how to best access federal grants. What portal provides the most up-to-date information? When researching for specific grants should one review opportunities at the department level? There appears to be numerous restrictions and stipulations: how best to understand them?

All good questions, and actually the answers are fairly straight-forward. Grants.gov is the clearinghouse for all federal Government grants. It is the source to find and then apply for federal grants. Grans.gov does not provide personal financial assistance, and it will direct one to the appropriate agency for such inquiries. So, first…register with Grants.gov, and receive daily e-mail notifications as to current funding initiatives.

Important, too, is identifying the need of the requesting entity because federal grants include housing, environmental initiatives, transportation and safety, health and human services, crime prevention, community development, research across several different industry types, educational opportunities, at-risk youth and after school programs, literacy, and it goes on and on!

If this all seems daunting, then, investigate by department. Need federal funds for a crime prevention program, go to the Department of Justice. If an organization has a HIV/AIDS prevention program established, and seeks federal funds, review the Department of Health and Human Services’ opportunities. If federal funds are needed for affordable and/or transitional housing, rental assistance, review HUD. Scientific, medical, cancer and other disease research, see the National Institute of Health. The list is quite extensive…so, again, determine need, and then proceed with the requisite research.

Once an entity identifies a federal grant, the application process begins! First and foremost, thoroughly understand the grant funding opportunity. Federal grants read like legal documents with sections and sub-sections so grasping the fundamentals are important elements in the early stages of submission. Sections will describe the funding opportunity in detail; targeted industries, populations, and participants; strategies and allowable activities; eligible applicants; definitions and administrative requirements; required forms including SF-424, Application for Federal Assistance and SF-424A, Budget Information Form, and budget narrative; other eligible criteria; eligible participants; and the all-encompassing Technical Proposal that has its own requirements and page limitations. If any required section is not properly submitted or completed, the application will not be read. It is deemed unresponsive. In other words, the entity will not receive any federal funding.

Other requirements: All applicants must register with the Federal Central Contractor Registry (CCR) before submission. The awardee must maintain an active CCR registration with all information updated at all times during the course of an active Federal award or an application under consideration. The lead applicant (lead organization) must be registered with Dun and Bradstreet; and is the point of contact during the funding cycle. The lead applicant is responsible for submission of required paperwork, and must provide all follow-up documentation as mandated by the federal funding request.

While it might seem like an entity must “jump through hoops” to receive federal grants, the benefits outweigh the difficulties.

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