Free Grants

Free grants sound exciting, don’t they? Unfortunately, the word “free” is somewhat misleading. While grants are not loans that must be paid back, grants have stipulations attached to them that must be followed. Also, some grants do, in fact, require some kind of payback. This payback can manifest itself in several different ways including repaying some part of the grant back to the grantee (the individual or entity providing the grant funds), ensuring that the entity receives a Return on Investment (ROI), or providing that a grantee representative sits on the governing board.

Individuals seeking grants need to understand that while such funds are available, stringent guidelines accompany many of them. Of course, for the college-bound student hoping to obtain a grant, the student should pursue this funding opportunity. Just be aware that financial need is the overarching factor that determines a favorable response. And, yes, post doctorate grants are available, mainly in the form of fellowships…and these, too, should be pursued and obtained if all criteria are met. There are free grants for low-to-moderately low income families for home improvements, single mothers, women-owned businesses, and minority education and businesses. Such grants are available at the federal, state, and local levels. Once a favorable funding response is received, the grantor (the one who receives the grant), must adhere to all that was outlined in the grant application including, but not limited to, proper completion of all requested forms (expenditures outlined, evaluation forms, final outcome report, etc.). So the catch here is: Meeting eligibility requirements, and then providing all requested documentation with sound and thorough follow-through.

To believe that free grants are readily there for the taking is to misunderstand the role of grants in the United States and elsewhere. More often than not, grants are made to qualified agencies, institutions and non profit organizations that, in turn, must meet certain state and federal requirements. All these entities must, therefore, meet the criteria set forth by the grantee, and must expend the grant funds as specified in the grant application. The result for those agencies, institutions and organizations that fail to expend the funds properly results in legal action including re-paying the grant to the originating source.

Equally important, too, is to appreciate the role of the grant writer. Although some argue that grant writing is fairly simple, nothing could be further from the truth. Grant writing is both an art and a technical skill. It requires a thorough understanding of the grant world: its peculiarities, its subtleties and nuances, the language used to garner favorable grant funding. It requires an appreciation for what is funded and what is not funded. It requires that measurable, quantifiable outcomes are listed that are realistic and obtainable. The grantee will not only require such outcomes, it will require a detailed explanation as to sustainability: how will the grantee fund the initiative once grant funds are expended.

Free grants: only when eligibility, adherence to all reporting requirements, and other documents required are attended to properly.

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