While the federal government gives out the greatest amount of money in grants and federal aid, some of it goes to the states. States designate funds to be used to provide grants to individuals and organizations. It is always wise to look not only to Washington DC for financial help but also to the state where you live.
New York is one of our largest states. It does make a lot of grants available to those who live there. It is not quite as straightforward to get the details in an easily understandable manner. Unlike California and Texas, which make identifying grants pretty easy, New York is more of a challenge. That’s where we come in!
New York is typical in that it has lots and lots of agencies and departments running lots of programs and sometimes is just confusing…New York is exceptional in that in addition to basics like Education, Housing, and Business it puts lots of emphasis on – and resources into – areas like the Arts and Humanities. Those are typically very hard grants to find, especially for individuals. So New York could be an excellent spot for you! Read more about what the Big Apple has to offer plus tips for finding it:
Discover your program today!
Do you need to make serious repairs to your home but you can’t afford them? You should be aware of New York’s 504 Home Repair Program. This program is specifically designed to help homeowners with very low incomes to make those improvements as well as to assist very low income seniors to take care of situations that pose danger to their health and safety. The first part of the program comes in the form of low cost loans to the very low income homeowners, and grants to the very low income elderly. If you are the homeowner and the home is your principal residence, you could qualify. The biggest loan you can get is $20,000 and the maximum amount for grants is $7500. The two can also be combined for a total of $27,500 in financial help. Find out more on the USDA website — just enter Housing Repair New York in the search box.
Update August 2017
Are you a New York resident and is it your dream to be a farmer — or to improve the profitability of your new farm? Good news: the state of New York as earmarked a million dollars (yes, a $million!) in its budget for 2017-2018 for the New York State New Farmers Grant Fund. It wants to give grants to help beginners in the field to make better profits. Get ready, because they’ll be looking for applications in the fall of this year )2017). Your application could qualify for funds if you are doing something that allows you to lengthen your growing season or diversify your production, or are using new techniques to get better yield from organic farming or to reduce your farm’s waste.
Update December 2016 New York manages a Block Grant specifically for Community Services. It operates through local Community Action Agencies to aid communities in areas such as poverty reduction, revitalizing low income areas and helping low income people and families rise up out of poverty and become self sufficient. Some of the services provided by local agencies include training people and helping them find jobs, assistance for housing and education and emergency items such as food and child care help. You can contact the New York State Division of Community Services to find funded agencies near you. There is also a Frequently Asked Questions section that can help you understand the Community Services Block Grant and how it might help you and/or your agency.
News update September 2016 for nonprofits hoping to win grants from New York State Government: In order to apply for any grants you must now get “pre-qualified” on New York’s Grants Reform website. Only if you first get qualified her can you apply for some New York grant opportunities. Even if you have made applications before you must take this step first. If you hope to apply the state urges you to begin the process to qualify and register as it is apparently quite a lengthy process.
Grants to Assist Those Released from Prison New York’s Governor Cuomo established $3.3 million in grants for task forces focused on helping formerly incarcerated individuals to transition back into their home communities. Their aim is to reduce recidivism and increase the safety of the public by providing much needed services and programs for these people. Those services include things like treatment for substance and abuse and problems with mental health, training for jobs and development of skills for jobs along with job placement. The New York Division of Criminal Justice Services manages the program and works with the non-profit groups providing services, so check with their offices to see if there is an organization providing these services and programs in your area.
April 2017 Update Are you a nonprofit in New York that provides - or would like to provide - non-HIV services to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered people and their families? The New York Community Trust (NYCT) provides grants in a number of areas and some focus on the needs of the LGBT community. They use the funds to assist those with HIV/AIDS, to meet the needs of seniors, low income LGBTs and those of color. Their grants have ranged between $25,000 and $100,000. They have also placed an emphasis on providing legal assistance. You can learn more about available grants and application procedures at nycommunitytrust.org.
New York actually has a program that provides housing-related grants to individuals. This is the Housing Opportunities Foundation Individual Grant Program that is part of the New York State Association of REALTORS®(NYSAR). It won’t be of use to you if you are just short on cash and need help with your rent. But if you want to own a home, are low-to-moderate in terms of your income level and could use some assistance with the financing, they could help.
This Grant Program provides those who qualify with help with a down payment and/or closing costs when buying a home. To be eligible you must be buying a house for the first time. (New York has a very specific definition for first-time home buyer so be sure to understand it well if you want to apply). Your income can’t exceed 110% of the income limit set by the State of New York Mortgage Agency’s(SONYMA) Low Interest Rate Program and the home you want to buy can’t be more than 110% of the limit for SONYMA’s purchase price limit for the county the home is in. You must plan to live in the house, you can’t be a relative of anyone on the selection committee, and you can’t be a REALTOR who is representing him or herself in a purchase transaction. You do have to be using a REALTOR for your home purchase. And there is a special box that must be checked if you have a disability and are applying for these funds.
There are a number of application requirements which you can see on the NYSAR website. Do be prepared with your most recent tax return and a letter from your lender regarding your mortgage prequalification.
News 2015 New York City Mayor de Blasio has proposed a dramatic increase in funds for programs offered by the Department of Small Business Services. The increase of almost 75% would bring spending close to $44 million - up from just over $25 million the prior year. New programs will aim to benefit small businesses and in particular women who are starting or growing a new business.
New York is busy supporting business! They do so primarily through an agency called Empire State Development. To pursue its mission of helping New York achieve an increasingly vibrant economy, new jobs and opportunities for the creation of jobs, it has put a number of programs in place to help small businesses. Some of these are specifically targeted at women and minority-owned ventures.
The Small Business Revolving Loan Fund has created a $50 million loan fund specifically to help small businesses get capital more easily, especially if those businesses have had problems in the past with traditional credit markets. Through a regional network of financial organizations they provide Micro-Loans for a maximum of $25,000 or less, and regular loans for more than $25,000.
For Minority and Women-Owned Businesses (MWBEs) there are several programs in place. These include the Minority and Women Revolving Loan Trust Fund Program and the Micro Enterprise Loan Fund. The Trust Fund Program provides financial support for qualifying businesses that cannot obtain loans through traditional financial sources. They work through community based organizations to give working capital loans of up to $35000 and for fixed asset loans the maximum is $50,000. Beyond financial support these folks offer help completing applications, creating a strong business plan, providing ongoing training and support programs with mentors and other entrepreneurs, and if possible a relationship with a credit union. The Micro Enterprise Loan Fund also was created to offer smaller loans to MWBEs through authorized community based corporations that manage micro loans. These loans can be up to $7000, to be repaid over a maximum of 24 months. To qualify a business must have less than $100,000 in yearly revenue and be for-profit businesses considered “high risk”. (Learn more about Microfinancing in the United States.)
Note: if applicable you should also take a look at our articles about Grants for Women Owned Business and Black Business Resources.
The New York State Higher Education Services Corporation has a short and sweet statement of their purpose: “We Help People Pay For College.” They have a very long list of the specific Grants, Scholarships and awards which they offer each year, none of which ever have to be repaid.
The largest program is called “TAP”, for Tuition Assistance Program and it does just that: offers assistance to residents of New York based on their family income. That is not only the largest but also the most general program. Others are offered for part time study; for veterans as well as to the families of those who lost their lives while in military service; for specific fields of study such as Math and Science, for those who have achieved exceptional academic excellence, and more. There is a specific program called Veterans Tuition Awards, providing help for both full- and part-time study to qualifying students.
If you are a New York State resident it is well worth your time to take a look at this list as well as the descriptions, eligibility information and how to reply. Please note that for almost all of these programs the first step is for you to complete your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). If you have been putting off doing that in hopes of finding a state program, stop procrastinating now and get it done. Money could be waiting for you!
Grants In The Arts
These can be very hard to find! New York has a considerable focus on – and financial support for – the Arts. They offer support to both organizations and to individuals, through different programs:
The New York State Council on the Arts awards grants specifically to non-profit organizations, Indian tribes, and government agencies all of which must be in New York State. (A non-profit organization may also act as a “fiscal sponsor” and apply for an individual.) The total amount of grants they can offer depends on the state budget and so of course may change from year to year. Their grants are at least $2500 and rarely if ever account for more than 50% of an organizations total financial support. Eligibility and application requirements are clearly detailed on their web site.
The New York Foundation for the Arts provides grants – which are unrestricted – to individual artists in any of fifteen different artistic disciplines. These awards are for $7000 and are given to “New York-based artists”. The Foundation started this program in 1985 and has awarded more than $27 million in cash grants since that time. The grants are unrestricted in terms what the receiving artist uses them for. They seek to support artists from many cultural backgrounds at various points along their career paths. In 2015 a total of $642,000 was awarded to 95 people. The money is not for specific projects but is expected to be used to further the artist’s “vision or voice.” The deadline to apply for the 2016-2017 award cycle opens in the fall of 2016. Applications will be accepted in the areas of Crafts and Sculpture; Printmaking, Drawing and Book Arts; Literature (nonfiction); Poetry; and Digital/Electronic Arts. Learn more at nyfa.org.
Grants For The Humanities
While the description of these seems somewhat vague, these are grants given out by the New York Council on the Humanities. They include Planning Grants of up to $1500 for humanities-based public programs, Project Grants of up to $3000 for programs that encourage involvement in the analysis of issues and an exchange of ideas and opinions, Reading and Discussion Grants of up to $1000 (including some with a special focus on families), Special Grant Initiatives which are typically related to commemorations and events pertaining to the entire state, and more.