The world of grant seeking includes many kinds of grants. There are government grants, corporation grants, foundation grants, service club grants and of course, gifts. We have learned that the process you follow may include reactive grants and/or proactive grants. Governmental agencies (departments in the Federal government or from State department agencies) often offer different kinds of grants including competitive, non-competitive, allocation, entitlement, and continuation.
Competitive grants typically have a Request for Proposal (RFP) open to applicants that meet a certain set of eligibility requirements. Readers using rubrics that are often provided in the RFP score the open competitive processes. These rubrics and rating sheets score applicants in a fair and open process. The challenge for the grant writer is to make sure the narrative of the grant follows the rubric without restating the rubric.
Non-competitive grants are usually awarded to grantseekers that meet a set of criteria. These kinds of funds often offer a limited number of awards and may offer a high level of support and guidance from the grant-making agency.
Allocation grants, sometimes known as formula grants, often promote a grant making agency’s priorities. An RFP will outline what conditions must be met to be eligible for an award.
Entitlement grants are awarded to grantees usually by formulas that have been described in law or other governmental regulations. Grantseekers are entitled to funds if they meet program requirements stated in an RFP.
Continuation grants help grantseekers continue their successful programs into another funding year. Continued funding may follow an initially competitive round of funding. Typically the grant seeker must meet a set of goals prior to additional funding.
As we focus on government grants, your first stop should be http://www.grants.gov/. Grants.gov is a clearinghouse for information about over 1,000 federal grant programs. The federal government grants approximately $400 billion dollars of grant awards each year. The Grants.gov website receives over 1.5 million visitors a week and distributes more than a million weekly emails to subscribers of its grant bulletins. The website is best described by its three-word byline: “Find. Apply. Succeed.”
This site will help you with grants, not benefits or entitlements. As Grants.gov states, “A federal Grant is an award of financial assistance from a federal agency to a recipient to carry out a public purpose of support or stimulation authorized by a law of the United States. Grants are not federal assistance or loans to individuals.” Grants.gov simplifies the process of applying and implementing a grant and streamlines the process of awarding annual grant funds. For you the grant seeker, the site will assist you by helping you search for opportunities, download application packages, complete the application forms, submit completed applications and track the status of submitted applications.
The federal government provides grants from 26 federal agencies in various categories. You will find a link on Grants.Gov website to the various grant-making agencies. One such agency of course, is the U.S. Department of Education (http://www.ed.gov). The 26 federal grant-making agencies offer grants in 21 categories. Included in these categories are Arts, Education, Science and Technology, as well as 18 other categories. From Grants.Gov you can link directly to many of these programs.
Many organizations are eligible to apply for government grants. Typically these grant seekers include state and local governments, independent school districts, small business, and non-profit organizations.
To apply for a grant, your agency must register with Grants.gov. If you are submitting a grant on behalf of a company, governmental agency or not-for-profit institution you must follow five steps. First, obtain a Data Universal Number (DUNS). Second, register your organization with the Central Contractor Registry (CCR). Third, register with Grants.gov’s credential provider and obtain your username and password. The fourth step is to register with Grants.gov to establish yourself as an authorized organization representative (AOR). The fifth step of the process will assign you an authorized applicant role to you. This part of the process takes place in the E-Biz section of Grants.Gov. There are detailed directions on how to complete each of these steps, available in a downloadable ninety-five page applicant user guide.
There is plenty of user support on the site including overview brochures, quick reference guides, email and live, toll-free phone numbers. A positive outcome of centralizing grant opportunities has been the standardizing of grant information, application packages and processes for finding and applying for federal grants. This streamlined process saves you from navigating a complex set of processes to apply for federal funding. The website’s search capabilities allow for a simple key word search all the way to advanced searches over numerous fields. The search page includes a basic set of searches including Keyword Search, Search by Funding Opportunity Number and Search by Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance number.
The site’s value is also achieved by utilizing the related links that will help you, the grantseeker, in your search for grants and writing of grant proposals. There are also links to each state’s governmental website with specific programs specifically for your state of residence. One of my favorite links is to an article entitled “Developing and Writing a Grant Proposal.” You will find this on the web page for The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) located at http://www.cfda.gov/. Additonal detailed information is provided at United States Department of Health and Human Services website at http://www.hhs.gov/grantsnet.
Another valuable source as you become a seasoned grant writer is the National Grants Management Association’s (NGMA) website (http://www.ngma.org). NGMA provides conferences, workshops, and publications. The mission of NGMA is to improve and unify the grants delivery process by bringing together the professionals involved in the process so that they may learn from each other. In addition to the NGMA, there is the Foundation Center located at http://foundationcenter.org. You will learn more about The Foundation Center and foundation grant sources in next week’s column.
Dr. Gary A. Carnow serves as the Director of Technology and Information Services for the Alhambra Unified School District. Dr. Carnow is the co-author of two software products published by Knowledge Adventure. He is also the co-author of three books, Prolific Thinkers (1986, Dale Seymour Publications), Software-in-a-Book: The Cruncher (2001, Teacher Created Materials), and Software-in-a-Book: KidWorks Deluxe (2001, Teacher Created Materials). He has authored numerous publications and learning resources for Apple, IBM, Scholastic, and others.