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Grants

The state representatives on Senator Harkin's staff in Cedar Rapids will work with you to determine the availability of federal grant funding for your organization or institution's project or to determine if the senator can write a letter of support for your grant application.

If you need advice regarding grants, please develop a clear and concise description of the proposed project. When preparing this description, it is helpful to consider the project from the viewpoint of the program officer at a potential funding source.

Questions To Ask

The questions below may be helpful in preparing your grant proposal.

  • What are the needs this project will address? How serious are they?
  • Whom will it benefit and how? What immediate short and long range results are being sought?
  • What methods are being proposed to achieve these results?
  • Are there other projects currently in place or in the planning stage designed to meet these needs? How does this project differ? What is unique about it?
  • How long will the project last? Is the timetable realistic?
  • Can the proposed results be measured? Who will do the evaluation, and at what point?
  • Are those making the proposal qualified to carry out the project? What are their credentials?
  • Is there evidence of support from the beneficiaries of this project?
  • Would there be community support?
  • What other organizations are currently being approached for funding?
  • Will the proposal attract additional financial support?
  • What are the plans for the project at the end of the grant?
  • How much is being asked for? What type of support is being asked for: construction funds, salaries, equipment, operating expenses? Is the figure realistic?
  • Is the proposal consistent with the funding source's aims, resources, and geographic limitations?

Helpful Links

A number of government resources on the Web can help you find currently available grants. Your Web browser will open a new window to view each of these links.

Grants and Federal Domestic Assistance (Prepared by CRS)

The information below was prepared by the Congressional Research Service, which provides guidance and resources on Federal grants and nonfinancial assistance, as well as on private foundation funding. The slide show "Grants Information for Constituents" provides overview and tips, reviews key sources, and demonstrates doing a typical grant request.

Grants and Federal Domestic Assistance

Guidance and key resources to help eligible grantseekers find information on federal grants, loans, and nonfinancial assistance, as well as on private funding.

Prepared by the Congressional Research Service for the U.S. Senate, updated January 2010 .  

How Best to Find Information

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  1. Find out Who is eligible for a Grant? Other government websites may be more suitable for personal need, 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.
  2. If eligible, search for programs in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA). Includes grants, loans, business and nonfinancial help.
  3. 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.
  4. Go to federal websites given in each CFDA program description for more information and for state administering agencies responsible for managing these programs.
  5. Check current federal grants opportunities at Grants.gov, obtain a Dun and Bradstreet (DUNS) number, register
    with Central Contractor Registration (CCR), and apply online (links and instructions given at the website).
  6. Search foundations for project funding: use the Foundation Center website or Foundation Center Cooperating Collections in libraries to identify national, state, and community foundations.
  7. Learn how to write grant proposals: follow CFDA's Developing and Writing Grant Proposals (begins on CFDA p. FF-1), or take the free online Foundation Center Proposal Writing Short Course.

Key Federal Funding Sources

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Grants.gov  (via Dept. of Health and Human Services)
Federal grants 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 (NOFAs) posted in the last 7 days; access RSS feeds 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, 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.

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance   (General Services Administration)
The 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.

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.

CFDA in Local Libraries  (Government Printing Office)
Although CFDA is available full-text on the Internet, some may prefer a print edition. However, only the Web version is continuously updated-- the published volume is annual with no supplements. The CFDA is available in all states in Federal Depository Libraries.

Related Federal Resources

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Recovery.gov (The White House)
Federal assistance under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) includes grants-in-aid to state and local governments. Agency Recovery Sites links to federal agency and department programs information. State Recovery Sites covers state projects and state contacts for assistance programs. The United States Conference of Mayors, Main Street Economic Recovery gives State Breakdown of ARRA and Key Program Summaries.

A-Z Index of U.S. Department 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. 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 and Grant Award Information  (Department 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 federal 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.

Student Aid on the Web (Department of Education)
Financial assistance for education beyond high school is generally "needs-based" and often includes loans and work-study, in addition to some grants. College and university applications, websites, and brochures usually include financial aid information for prospective and incoming students.

GovBenefits.gov  (via Department of Labor)
Government grants are not direct assistance to individuals, but fund state and local programs providing help to those in need. This online screening site can be used to identify state and local government benefits and how to apply. Covers direct payments, loans, 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 and Corporate Funding Sources

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The Foundation Center
Gateway to information about private funding sources, the grantseeking 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.

Grants 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

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  • USAspending.gov (OMB)
    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 are provided for state and county levels.
CRS contact for Senate offices, Merete F.Gerli, x77109