Grants.gov is THE source to FIND and APPLY for U.S. federal grants. This site is a resource for government agencies that have grants to offer and everyone seeking grants. It is managed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In 2009, over 300,000 submissions for grants were received.
This is a legitimate and official site. With that comes what you mostly expect: thousands of listings for grant opportunities. It's about as exciting as looking through the classifieds. Grant listings are detailed but esoteric in their language.
Beware, this is not a site for anyone to post grant opportunities. It is operated by the government for federal grants only. Only U.S. government employees can register as grantors at this site.
As Grants.gov states repeatedly, this is also not the site for individuals that need financial assistance. While individuals may apply for federal grants, the majority of those people will be contractors engaged in work-for-hire. Businesses and non-profits benefit best from Grants.gov.If you're confused as to whether this site might be useful to you, please read our article called Grants.gov Is Not For You and that should help you understand who will get the most out of it.
Discover your program today!
Grants.gov is HUGE. It contains and maintains thorough information about federal grant programs – over 1000 of them. And over the course of a year, according to the 2016 annual report, it provides online access for users to apply for grants totaling more than 100 billion dollars. The site has been in existence since 2002 and was an important leap forward in the management of government grants. It also offers extensive information through its FAQ’s and through the sections which offer training and education about grants and the grants cycle. Telephone assistance for those who require it is also available.
Keeping Up to Date: If you’re confused about grants, and many people are, grants.gov has some new blogs that can be helpful. One blog is simply called the “What Is…?” series. It lists questions and then explanation for many of the most commonly asked questions about grants, and government grants in particular. Questions include things like “What is the Grant Lifecycle”, “What is a Block Grant”, “What is a Grant” and many more. And, if you’d like, you can sign up to be notified via email when new topics are added or announcements about grant releases are made. Just click the Community Blog in the upper right of the home screen, then look for the red box on the lower right that says “notify me of new posts.”
Applying For A Grant As An Individual
Update February 2018 For some people one of the most useful aspects of grants.gov is that you can search specifying that you are only interested in grants for which individuals are eligible. These projects/grants are typically are for very scientific projects that require experts in the field. However, that is not always the case, and the website makes it pretty easy to find other grants for individuals. One example that is currently listed is fellowships offered by the Mellon Foundation along with the Endowment for the Humanities. Substantial awards are available for those working on Interpretive research projects (i.e., mainly non-quantitative) that require digital presentation and expression. That is, the reporting the results requires media beyond printed publications and use things like film and sound and other multimedia resources. So if that’s your bag, check it out — if not, take a look at some searches and see what else you might find using the instructions below:
Is this even possible on a huge government site like grants.gov? It actually is! Though there may not be tons of grants you can apply for as an individual, they do exist. Since everyone who uses grants.gov to apply for a grant needs to be registered on the site, here are some basic instructions for getting registered as an individual:
- First do a search on the site, checking the Eligibility box labeled “Inidviduals”. This should narrow your search results significantly.
- Choose an opportunity that looks like it is relevant to your skills and what you’re looking for. Make a note of the “Funding Opportunity Number.” Use that number to complete your registration form. Decide on and enter your username and password. You’re now ready to apply for a grant!
NEWS September 2015: grants.gov has a new look on its opening page which makes it a bit easier to find grants. There is a heading called “Find Open Grant Opportunities”. Below it are four tabs. The first is “New Opportunities” and is a nice straightforward way of looking only at new grant funds available. It gives you the title of the new grant opportunity, the awarding agency, the date it was posted and - importantly - the date it closes. So you can easily see how much time you have to pursue and opportunity that might be a fit for you or your organization. If you click on the funding number it will take you to more information about that opportunity.
There is still an overall site search capability in the upper right of the opening page. Just choose Grant Opportunities as your category and then enter keyword(s).
grants.gov Search Tips: Here are some more tips to conduct your search on grants.gov. In the upper right next to “Search” choose “Grant Opportunities”. In the box to the right, enter your keywords such as small business, non-profit, individual, research, Alzheimer’s, etc. Then click the red “GO”. (If you are looking for information on a specific grant or program you know exists, enter its CFDA number.) Next you will see on the right a listing of Funding Opportunities, but they may not be too meaningful. To get a better response, look to the left and check the appropriate boxes: Under Funding Instrument Type, check All. For Eligibility, scroll through the choices (which include categories like “individuals”, “small businesses” and “non-profits” for example. Next choose All for Category and Agency. Note that each time you check a square, your search results become more pertinent to the specific type of grant you are seeking. It’s actually pretty impressive!
Confused About Applying For A Grant? It can seem a little complicated but there's plenty of help available. We recommend first taking a look at the Applicant FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) which you can find by hovering over the Applicants Tab near the top of the page and then clicking on Applicant FAQ. It will clarify your questions about the mechanics of applying for a grant and more: like how to attach a file, how big the file can be, how long your application will be kept in the system, the most common reasons applications get rejected, whether you should copy/paste information into your application and much more. And of course it's free.
grants.gov also includes a section called “Grants 101”. Here you can get a solid education about Grants: what a grant is, what the lifecycle of a grant looks like, how to determine eligibility for a grant, explanations of grant terminology, and much more. Its focus is specifically on government grants and how they are used to provide services to the public as well as to stimulate the economy. It also explains the difference between grants and federal assistance.
The most useful part of Grants.gov along with its search capabilities is its grants listings. This is a large database continuously updated. You can always find up-to-date information in these listings. Listings are designed in three parts: Synopsis, Full Announcement, and Application. The expected process is to disccover, investigate and apply. You may be surprised to discover that listings aren't directly from Grants.gov. There is no Department of Grants in the U.S. Government. Instead, Grants.gov aggregates thousands of opportunites from every branch of the government. Listings come from everywhere, ranging from the Department of the Army to the Food & Drug Administration. This is good news for applicants since regardless what your business is based on, there's probably support to be found here. Utilize both the browsing and searching abilities of the site for best results.
The tools provided by the site are also fantastic. In order to help you and your business, Grants.gov provides iPortal for help, advanced search facilities for applicants, email notifications on changes or updates, registration, and application tracking. The developers have gone through a lot of work to provide these fantastic features to visitors. So make use of them! The latest contribution: iPortal was developed in just the last couple years to provide specific help on opportunities.
A newsletter called “Succeed” at least sounds promising. The newsletter is published a couple times each year and contains specific information about the site. At first glance, we thought this was an awesome resource. If you go and view it for yourself you'll probably be surprised like we were: the newsletter is about the website and not about grants. If you step back, this makes sense since the main goal of Grants.gov is to connect grantors with grantees. If you're looking for more help with grants, this newsletter isn't for you. If you're really concerned about security and want updates on account management facilities, then you'll like it.
Like the newsletter, the stakeholder webcast is a very cut-and-dry presentation of where Grants.gov is headed and what improvements have occurred over the previous year. If you're looking for help, don't bother looking here. This is intended for U.S. Government grantors that are interested in having a valuable website for getting work contracted.
All-in-all the site is really cut-and-dry. It appeals much more to paper-pushers in offices than entrepreneurs or business owners. Piercing through the listings is kind of like reading through the tax code on the IRS website. Given the esoteric language used, it's not surprising that people and businesses have difficulty getting grants.
Lastly (and almost comically), as with most businesses, people love acronyms. Don't be surprised when you see these:
- OMB - Office of Management and Budget
- FFATA - Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act
- FSRS - FFATA Subaward Reporting System
- CDG - Career Development Grants
If you see an acronym you don't recognize, just punch it into Google.com. One of the titles in the search results is likely the expansion of the acronym for which you're searching.
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