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Welcome back to lesson two. I am sure by now you are anxious to get started looking for government grants, since you now know what this type of grant is and what it is used for. So without further waiting, I will now show you how to search for government grants.

You may think that searching for a government grant is hard or that you have to buy a book to learn how to do it correctly. The people writing such books might want you to believe that so they can sell as many books as possible. But, in reality, looking for government grants is not as hard as you may think – and you don’t have to spend a ton of cash to find them. You simply have to know where to look, how to understand the information that is presented and how to apply it to your particular circumstances. And that is what this lesson is about. I will take the mystery out of it, or at least attempt to.

On the following pages, you will be introduced to websites that provide links and info to government grants, but let’s first start with some preliminary information. There are two critical things you must understand with regard to government grants (and all other grants for that matter). The first is that grants are given to help grantees (i.e. recipients of the grant funds) achieve one or more specific objectives. In almost all cases, these objectives are directly aligned with the grant-maker’s mission. For example, the primary mission of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) is “protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services, especially for those who are least able to help themselves.” HHS provides several hundred grants each year to encourage individuals and entities to conduct healthcare-related activities ranging from research and development of promising medical technologies and drugs, to scholarships for disadvantaged students who want to pursue health-related professions (and just about everything in-between). If you are seeking grant funds to conduct a health-related activity, HHS might be an excellent starting point for your grant search. (“Might” is the operative word, however, as you will learn in the next paragraph.)

The second thing you must understand is that in order to apply for a grant, there must be an available “funding opportunity” that matches the activity for which you are seeking grant money. In the case of government grants, these funding opportunities are done via a process called the Request for Proposals (“RFP”), which also is the name commonly used to describe the document that provides the instructions and other details needed to apply for the grant. Government agencies issue RFPs to solicit proposals from eligible applicants to conduct specific activities. Typically, the RFP process is finite: it has a beginning – usually the date the RFP is made available to the public – and an end – usually the deadline by which all proposals must be received. If there is no RFP that matches the activity for which you are seeking a grant (or if the RFP deadline has passed), it is futile to submit an “unsolicited proposal” (i.e. a proposal that is not being sent in response to a specific request from a grant-maker). Unsolicited proposals will not be considered – no matter how innovative or potentially beneficial your activity may indeed be.

Some (but not all) RFPs are regularly-issued. In other words, the grant-making agency solicits proposals for the same activity every year, or possibly more than once each year. For this reason, it is important to become acquainted with the government agencies that typically fund the types of activities you or your organization conduct – and to periodically check with those agencies for potential funding opportunities. The following paragraphs will help you learn how to identify those agencies. The RFP is discussed in greater detail in Lesson 3.

One of the best resources for finding government grants is the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance, which can be found at www.cfda.gov. Here, you will find a complete or nearly complete list of grants by various governmental agencies. (The CFDA not only provides a comprehensive listing of grants, but of all assistance programs and services the federal government offers.)

As you can see from the image on the next page, the CFDA website allows you to search in several different ways, including by keyword. Clicking on “Advanced Search Form” gives you three important search options that can help you narrow down your results. First, “Assistance Types” enables you to limit the search results to grants only. (“Project Grants” is the category likely to be the most applicable to the majority of individual and organizational grant-seekers.) Then, “Applicant Eligibility” allows you to further limit the search results to those that best describe you, the grant-seeker (the “applicant”). Finally, “Use of Assistance” enables you to select the category that best describes the nature of the activity for which you are seeking the grant. Once you click on “Search,” you will receive a list of the grants that meet your search parameters. You can then browse the list to identify funding opportunities that might match the activity you want to conduct. Once you have identified a potential funding opportunity, you can view specific information pertaining to that opportunity, like the purpose of the grant, requirements and restrictions as they pertain to the use of grant funds, etc.

In some (but not all) cases, a link is provided to the Agency webpage that pertains to the specific funding opportunity. Typically, that is where you will find information like the time period in which proposals are accepted, as well as the actual RFP, which, as you learned above, provides instructions and other details needed to apply for the grant.

As you also learned above, some Agencies periodically solicit proposals for the same activities (or make material changes to the RFP or the RFP process), so it’s a good idea to keep going back to the CFDA website to check for changes or updates.

Grants.gov (www.grants.gov) is another online resource that can help you find potential government grant opportunities. As you can see from the next image, you not only can find potential grant opportunities, you can also apply for grants – as well as track your application – through this website. By clicking on “Find Grant Opportunities,” you can search in several different ways. As with the CFDA, Grants.gov also provides an Advanced Search option that can help you narrow down the results to easily find the type of grant opportunity you are seeking.

In the past, grant applicants could often choose whether to submit proposals via Grants.gov or to submit hard copies through the mail; however, this has changed. Many federal government agencies now require applicants to submit proposals electronically using Grants.gov.

There are a number of requirements that must be met before you can use Grants.gov to submit proposals; among them, you must be registered in the Grants.gov system, you must be registered in the Central Contractor Registration system (www.ccr.gov), and you must have a DUNS number from Dun & Bradstreet (www.dnb.com). These registrations and other requirements can take several weeks, so it is in your best interest to complete these processes well in advance of when you intend to apply for a grant. You can view details and instructions concerning all Grants.gov registration requirements by clicking on “Get Registered” from the homepage.

In addition to the above websites, you can also gain access directly to many of the federal agencies’ websites. Below is a list of the most common federal agencies that offer grants to qualified individuals and companies.

  • Federal Emergency Management Association
    500 C Street S.W.
    Washington, DC 20472
  • National Endowment for the Arts
    1100 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
    Washington, DC 20506
  • National Endowment for Humanities
    1100 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
    Washington, DC 20506
  • National Science Foundation
    4201 Wilson Boulevard
    Arlington, VA 22230
  • Small Business Administration
    409 3rd Street SW
    Washington, DC 20416
  • www.sba.gov
  • U.S. Department of Education
    400 Maryland Avenue, S.W.
    Washington, DC 20202
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
    700 Independence Avenue S.W.
    Washington, DC 20201
  • U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
    451 78th Street, S.W.
    Washington, DC 20410
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
    1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
    Washington, DC 20460

Using the information contained in this lesson, you are bound to find numerous grant opportunities; however, because of the volume of information available, it can take time to do the research thoroughly. Don’t get frustrated if you don’t immediately find the information you’re looking for. Instead, take time to become familiar with the above websites, including the ways in which they catalog and present information. Once you’ve made several visits to each website, you’ll be able to search them more easily and efficiently.

Grant Funding and Assistance
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For this assignment you will do the following exercise:

  1. Refer to your notes from lesson one’s assignment (the first exercise) and go to the websites listed in this lesson. See what agency (or agencies) provides one or more grants for what you are seeking to do. Once you have identified a potentially suitable grant (i.e. the grant-maker funds the type of activity you conduct and the application deadline has not passed), determine what you must do to apply.


Read over the following questions and provide the best answer possible.

  1. Searching for a grant is hard work, which is why there are so many books written on the subject of how to look for grants.
    1. True
    2. False
  2. The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance website does not list grants.
    1. True
    2. False
  3. The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance provides a full list of federal grants.
    1. True
    2. False
  4. The website Grants.gov is a central location for all federal agencies to list grants.
    1. True
    2. False
  5. The website GovSpot.com lists federal agencies along with what:
    1. State agencies
    2. Local agencies
    3. County agencies
    4. None of the above


Lesson 3 >

Want to Go to College?
You may qualify for up to $6,095 in college grants this year!

Grant Funding and Assistance
Billions of dollars are now easily available to many Americans