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Grants and Federal Domestic Assistance
Guidance and key resources to help eligible grantseekers find information on federal grants, loans, and nonfinancial assistance for projects, as well as on private funding. Prepared by the Congressional Research Service for Members of Congress, updated April 2011.
How Best to Find Information
- Find out Who is Eligible for a Grant? Other government websites may be more suitable for personal needs, student loans, small business assistance , or other business opportunities such as government contracting. The website Government Benefits, Grants, and Financial Aid may also be of help.
- If eligible, search for program information in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA). Includes grants, loans, business and nonfinancial help.
- Contact federal office given in CFDA program description: if state or local office is indicated, check Regional Agency Offices at top of CFDA website for addresses.
- Go to federal websites given in each CFDA program description for more information and for state administering agencies responsible for managing these programs.
- Check current federal grants opportunities at Grants.gov, obtain a Dun and Bradstreet a DUNS number, register with Central Contractor Registration CCR number, and apply online (links and instructions given at the website). Additional notices appear at FedConnect.net.
- Search foundations for project funding: use the Foundation Center Web site or Foundation Center Cooperating Collections in libraries to identify national, state, and community foundations.
- Learn how to write grant proposals: follow CFDA’s Developing and Writing Grant Proposals, or take the free online Foundation Center Proposal Writing Short Course.
Key Federal Funding Sources
Grants.gov (managed by Dept. of Health and Human Services)
Federal website that allows eligible grantseekers (see Who is Eligible for a Grant?) to find and apply for current competitive grant opportunities from ALL federal agencies. Grantseekers can check on notices of funding availability (NOFA) posted in the last 7 days; access an RSS feed of grant opportunities; and apply for federal grants through a unified process by downloading the application and submitting online. The website guides grantseekers in obtaining a Dun and Bradstreet (DUNS) number and registering with Central Contractor Registration (CCR) and registering with Grants.gov to apply and to track applications. For full federal program descriptions, see CFDA below. See also website FedConnect.net for additional grants and contracts opportunities.
Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (General Services Administration)
The Catalog (CFDA), issued annually and updated continuously on the Web, describes some 1600 federal grants and non financial assistance programs. Grantseekers can identify programs that might support their projects and can learn the program’s objectives, requirements, application procedures and contacts. For current notices of funding availability, see Grants.gov or FedConnect.net.
State Single Points of Contact’ (Office of Management and Budget)
Under Executive Order 12372, some states require federal grants applicants to submit a copy of their application for state government level review and comment. The state offices listed here coordinate federal financial assistance and may direct federal development. For help in identifying state-level grants, other state government agencies websites may be found at: State and Local Agencies by Topic.
CDFA in Local Libraries (Government Printing Office)
Although the Catalog is available full-text on the Internet, some may prefer a print edition. However, only the Web Catalog is continuously updated. The published volume is annual with no supplements. The Catalog is available in all states in Federal Depository Libraries.
Related Federal Resources
A-Z Index of U.S. Departments and Agencies (General Services Administration)
To better develop a grant proposal, search a department or agency’s Home Page to learn more about its programs and objectives. The site USA.gov also links to Government Benefits, Grants and Financial Aid.
Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (Department of Energy)
Grants are EERE’s primary funding vehicle for businesses, industries, universities and others. Most EERE grants are awarded on merit on a competitive basis. EERE financial assistance opportunities are listed in the Financial Opportunities by Audience database and on Grants.gov or FedConnect.net. For state-by-state information on state, local. utility, and federal incentives that promote renewable energy and energy efficiency, search DSIRE (Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency).
Homeland Security State Contacts & Grant Award Information (Dept. of Homeland Security)
Click on map for state allocations and contact information. Most Homeland Security non-disaster grant programs are designated for state and local governments and specific entities such as colleges, etc. Unsolicited applications from individuals are generally not accepted. Includes Urban Area Security Initiative, Citizens Corps, Medical Response System, Operation Stonegarden (border security), Infrastructure Protection. Programs for firefighters may be found at Assistance to Firefighters.
USA.gov for Business (GSA)
Includes contracting with the U.S. government, international trade and exporting, and small business. See also financial assistance links at Business.gov and the Small Business Administration websites.
USA.gov for Nonprofits (GSA)
Links to federal department and agency information and service for nonprofit organizations, including fundraising and outreach, grants, loans and other assistance, laws and regulations, management and operations, online services, registration and licensing, and tax information. The White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Initiatives includes information on Grants and Resources
Student Aid on the Web (Dept. of Education)
Information on funding education beyond high school, including grants, loans, and work-study assistance to qualified students.
GovBenefits.gov (via Department of Labor)
Includes information on over 1,000 government assistance programs, and how to apply. Covers direct payment, loan, insurance, training, or other services.
FTC Consumer Alert (Federal Trade Commission)
The FTC warns consumers to beware of paying "processing fees" for information that is available free to the public. Ads claiming federal grants are available for home repairs, home business, unpaid bills, or other personal expenses are often a scam.
OMB Grants Management Web Site (Office of Management and Budget)
OMB establishes government-wide grants management policies and guidelines through circulars and common rules. OMB Circulars are cited in Catalog program descriptions and may be printed out fulltext.
Private & Corporate Funding Sources
The Foundation Center
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. 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.
- Welcome Legislators and Policy Makers Covers policy development, constituent services, and other helpful nonprofit resources.
- Guide to Funding Research An overview of the funding research process for those seeking grants from foundations, corporations, and grantmaking public charities.
- Proposal Writing Short Course (also in Spanish, French and other languages)
- Foundation Finder Search for information about more than 70,000 private and community foundations.
- Requests for Proposals Daily postings of requests for proposals (RFPs) from private funding sources by broad subject category.
- Foundation Center Cooperating Collections Free funding information available in libraries, community foundations, and other nonprofit centers nationwide, including access to the Foundation Directory Online database.
Grant Resources by State (Grantsmanship Center)
Click on state map to find links to information about a state’s foundations, community foundations, corporate giving programs and the state’s home page.
Tracking Federal Funds
USAspending.gov (Office of Management and Budget)
A free, searchable database of federal government spending based upon Census and General Services Administration statistical data. Grants and Contracts must be searched separately: by individual organization or grant recipient; by place of performance, including by congressional district; or by federal department or agency.
Federal Aid to States (Census Bureau)
FAS details actual expenditures of federal grant funds to state and local governments. Figures are presented to the state level by program area and agency.
Consolidated Federal Funds Report (Census Bureau)
In CFFR, grants generally represent obligations and include payments both to state and local governments and to nongovernmental recipients. Data is provided for state and county levels.