HOW WE CAN HELP
During the Search Process: Federal Agencies
· Applying for grants is becoming more competitive every year. If you do not find a federal grant or if you want more advice, our office can help connect you with a Grants or Program Manager from federal agencies. Having their perspective and expertise can help give you a better lay of the land and potentially help guide you to other federal funding opportunities.
· Our staff can also help narrow down your search for federal grants and answer questions. Please feel free to contact our Grants Manager.
During the Grant Application Process: Letter of Support
· Our office can provide a letter of support for your grant application. We ask that you reach out to our office early to mid-way through your process so that we have an adequate amount of time to draft and process a letter. It is also very helpful to us if you provide draft language that best describes your organization's goals and priorities and how this particular grant will assist in helping you reach those goals. It is also valuable for our office to understand how the grant will improve California.
· Please reach out to our Grants Manager, and we will provide you with a form to submit a request for a letter of support.
After You Apply: Grant Award Notifications
· If you are having difficulty in getting a response back from a federal agency about a grant award notification, our office can assist you by contacting the agency directly to get an update on your application or help you receive the funding you have been allocated.
· Also, if you were denied for a federal grant and have not received an explanation, our office can assist you in determining what could have been done to improve your application.
What is a federal grant?
· A federal grant is an award of financial assistance from a federal agency to a recipient to carry out a public purpose of support authorized by a law of the United States. Federal grants are not federal assistance or loans to individuals. Grants are not benefits or entitlements.
· Most federal grants go directly to states in the form of either formula (e.g. based on a state's population) or block grants. Then, the states may make sub-awards to local organizations. However, there are also up to 1,700 different types of competitive grant programs that you may apply for directly through a federal agency.
Who can apply?
· Non-profits, educational organizations, for-profit organizations, state and local governments, tribes, and individuals can all apply for federal grants.
Where should I start searching?
· A great place to start your search is grants.gov. It is the main clearinghouse for federal grant opportunities. You will be able to register to apply for grants and search notices of funding availability (NOFA's) from all federal agencies. To help save time in your search, consider is using RSS Feeds. At the bottom of grants.gov you can click on RSS, taking you to a page where you can receive a list of federal grant opportunities by agency or category.
· Prior to applying for any federal grant, you will need to register your organization for access to grants.gov. Click on the "Applicants" tab and look under "Applicant Resources" to begin registration. The first step involves getting a Data Universal Number System (DUNS) Number to identify your organization. Think of it as a Social Security Number for your organization. The entire registration and approval process can take anywhere from two business days to a couple of weeks.
· Also, it is worthwhile to sign up at fedconnect.net to search for federal grants. Some listings may be on both grants.gov and this website, but it is good to double-check. There is a button to register for an account on the main page.
· Another good source is the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) (https://www.cfda.gov/). Grant seekers can identify programs that might support their projects and can learn the program's objectives, requirements, application procedures, and contacts. Actual funding is dependent on annual budget appropriations. For example, a federal program can be mentioned in the catalog, but Congress or the federal agency may decide to not fund that program during the fiscal year. If funding is available, you may be directed to register and apply through grants.gov.
What grants are available for individuals?
· Grants for individuals are given primarily through financial aid and scholarships. One example being Pell Grants. To search for student aid, visit the Federal Student Aid website (https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/). Another website to visit is from the Michigan State University Libraries. You can search for funding by Academic Level, Population Group, and by Subject. (https://libguides.lib.msu.edu/c.php?g=96743/harris23/grants/3subject.htmp=622547)
· You also may want to consider searching for other benefits by visiting benefits.gov and filling out a questionnaire to see if you qualify in your area. Some examples include being able to identify state programs to potentially help you with child care or energy assistance.
What federal grants are available to small businesses?
· Information on federal grants available for small businesses can be found here (https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs).
What state grants are available?
· Grants offered by the state of California can be found on http://www.cfcc.ca.gov/grant-program/
Can I track federal funding?
· Yes, by going to beta.usaspending.gov. The purpose of the site is to provide you with information on how tax dollars are being spent. Data is collected on the different loans, contracts, grants, and other types of spending. There is an option to search for Awards at the bottom of the site. You can filter by Award Type, Location, Agency, and more.
· The website helps provide transparency to the different types of federal money coming into California. In addition, it will give you a better sense of which organizations in California are receiving federal funds.
Are there grants that are scams?
· Yes, grant scams exist. There can be ads claiming to provide you a free grant to pay for your education, home repairs, unpaid bills or business expenses. The Federal Trade Commission (the nation's consumer protection agency) has a few basic rules (https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0113-government-grant-scams) to help prevent you from losing money to scams:
o Don't give out your bank account information to anyone you don't know: Scammers pressure people to divulge their bank account information so that they can steal the money in the account. Always keep your bank account information confidential. Do not share account information unless you are familiar with the company and know why the information is necessary.
o Don't pay any money for a "free" government grant: If you have to pay money to claim a "free" government grant, it isn't really free. A real government agency won't ask you to pay a processing fee for a grant that you have already been awarded - or to pay for a list of grant-making institutions. The names of agencies and foundations that award grants are available for free at any public library or on the Internet. The only official access point for all federal grant-making agencies is www.grants.gov.
o Look-alikes aren't the real thing: Just because the caller says he's from the "Federal Grants Administration" doesn't mean that he is. There is no such government agency. Take a moment to check the blue pages in your telephone directory to substantiate your hunch - or not.
o Phone numbers can deceive: Some con artists use Internet technology to disguise their area code in caller ID systems. Although it may look like they're calling from Washington, DC, they could be calling from anywhere in the world.
o Take control of the calls you receive: If you want to reduce the number of telemarketing calls you receive, place your telephone number on the National Do Not Call Registry. To register online, visit donotcall.gov. To register by phone, call 1-888-382-1222 (TTY: 1-866-290-4236) from the phone number you wish to register.
o File a complaint with the FTC: If you think you may have been a victim of a government grant scam, file a complaint with the FTC online (https://ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#crnt&panel1-1), or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
What private sources are available?
· While looking for federal grants, you should consider expanding your search to include other sources of funding, such as foundation and corporate grants. Contact local businesses and institutions to see if they are willing to give cash contributions or in-kind contributions (e.g., professional services, equipment, or building use). This type of community-based support may also help to strengthen a federal grant proposal.
· Although there are various types of foundation and corporate grants, as with the case for federal grants, competition is fierce. In addition, you should try to find grant makers whose priorities and goals align with those of your organization to increase your chances of success. You might also consider first identifying state or local foundations. They might have more of an interest in smaller, local projects than some larger foundations that may focus on national projects or efforts.
· Regardless of how you search, it is worthwhile to reach out to a corporate or foundation giving program to double-check that your proposal is a good fit.
· Below is a list of resources to help aid your search:
o The Foundation Center: The Center maintains a comprehensive database on foundations; produces print and electronic directories and guides; conducts research and publishes studies in the field; and offers a variety of training and educational seminars. It functions as a major gateway to information about private funding sources, the grant-seeking process, guidelines on writing a grant proposal, addresses of state libraries with grants reference collections, and links to other useful Internet websites. (http://foundationcenter.org/)
o Grantsmanship Center: This site provides state-by-state information on top grant making foundations, community foundations, and corporate giving programs. (https://www.tgci.com/funding-sources)
o Council on Foundations: By using the Community Foundation Locator and clicking on California, you will find a list of foundations in our state. (https://www.cof.org/community-foundation-locator)
· Source: Congressional Research Service
How do I write a grant proposal?
· The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance website has a "Writing Grants" page (https://sam.gov/?s=generalinfo&mode=list&tab=list&tabmode=list&static=grants) that provides the fundamentals of writing a grant proposal. In addition, the Foundation Center offers guidance for grant writing here (https://grantspace.org/training/introduction-to-proposal-writing/).
· This site contains sample grant proposals (geared toward education) that were successful. Examples of proposals may include ones to local, state and federal agencies, as well as proposals to foundations.