08 Apr Government Grants
Government grants involve donated money given to the government to help meet certain goals or money obtained from passing laws that allow for funding to be obtained through the federal budget.
The government provides this money to individuals and organizations that apply for the grants, who need funding for a specific project or program. Because the grants are given only for specific needs, they may not pay for ongoing expenses, and may not be enough to cover the total cost of a project or program.
While the money received through a grant may be free, it does not necessarily come without obligations. Each applicant who receives a grant will be responsible for maintaining certain expectations outlined in the grant application.
If the obligations are not met by the grant receiver, the grant money may be withdrawn and in some instances the receiver may be asked to repay the money that has been spent.
Types of Government Grants
Every year, our U.S. government awards billions of dollars to government agencies, institutions, small business, and individuals through grants. Grants are divided or categorized by the following types of grants:
- Block Grants – Block grants are distributed to individuals who meet pre-existing requirements, such as income or race. There are many eligible activities associated with block grants, and they are typically used as funding for general and broad purposed programs, such as public health and community development.
- Project Grants – Project grants are used to fund specific projects over a fixed period of time. The process for applying for these grants is generally highly competitive. One type of project grant program that can be seen as an example would be the U.S. Department of Justice project called the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program. This program provides funding for states over a certain period of time for assessment and service for those who have committed a crime and been diagnosed with a mental illness.
- Formula Grants – Like block grants, formula grants are given based on pre-existing criteria. This type of grant however, is non-competitive. Anyone meeting the basic requirements who applies will be eligible for grant money from the government.
- Categorical Grants – Categorical grants only allow for a specific range of activities and are provided through a pre-determined formula. They may also be distributed to organizations who do meet the required formula, at the discretion of the U.S. government.
- Earmark Grants – Earmark grants are provided by lawmakers who state a specific project or program in the federal budget. The funds are essentially “earmarked” for those who are willing to apply for the grant.
How to Find and Apply for Government Grants
Most of us have seen the cheesy advertisements for books and even video tutorials on “How to Find Free Government Grants.” These offers usually come with a hefty price tag, but in reality, they don’t provide much useful information.
Government grant information is readily available (and free), so you don’t need to purchase a book to view the different grants available.
Here’s how it works:
Once the budget for the federal government is approved, grant projects become available to the public and are announced by the government through the Federal Register.
Grants can appear throughout the year in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance, or CFDA. This listing of grants provides information on how to apply for each grant, who is eligible for grants, and how each grant is allowed to be used.
Weekly reports of new grant programs can be found in the Weekly Federal Funding Report. This report is provided by the House of Representatives.
Once you locate the grant you are interested in, you’ll contact the appropriate government agency to request an application. Grant applications will require you to be extremely thorough, often requesting details such as your full business plan, financial records, details of how funds will be used, and proof of all qualifications.
Whether you are looking for government grants for college, a business start-up, or other assistance, take the time to look at the government websites provided. While finding the right grant may be a bit of a challenge, the assistance received will be well worth the effort.