June started with basketball excitement and ended with a surprising Cavaliers win in the final battle. It also ended with more surprising events rocking the world: first another terrorist attack in Istanbul; then the British vote to exit the European Union.
The Istanbul death toll stands at a devastating 44. The British government is in some disarray. But remember these are the folks with the motto “Keep Calm and Carry On.” Often good advice. Many who were sure the vote would be “Stay” are still in shock, and the rest of us are not sure what it means…
Regardless of crazy things going on in the world we wish you a Happy 4th of July in advance. In the face of continued terrorist threats we especially celebrate the freedom it represents - including our freedom of speech. Enjoy your celebrations and remember that freedom isn’t free: it takes effort to protect it.
It takes effort to achieve or defend most of the things that are important to us. “Free money” - benefits, aid, grants and assistance of many kinds - take effort to identify and go after. Our July highlights can help:
Discover your program today!
Our newest article is all about va.gov, the main website of the U.S. Veterans Administration. This is the organization that manages all benefits and service for our veterans and their families - a huge task.
The VA has been under fire over the past couple of years for some bad mismanagement — mismanagement that has harmed veterans and their families. This is terrible and particularly surprising since the current administration was voted in on promises of more funding and superior performance by the VA. Fortunately after many years — and too many negative headlines — it appears that some change is taking place.
That change has not yet had its full impact on the VA’s website. Like the agency itself the site is large and sprawling and can be a bit overwhelming. Our article presents highlights and tips for using the site to find the information you are looking for efficiently. It also shows a quick way to use the VA navigator to identify all the benefits for which you may qualify — and there could be a lot of them! Check it out in our guide to va.gov if you’re a veteran or know one who could use help of any kind. That includes not only health care (which is a huge part of the VA) but also mental health, treatment for PTSD (did you know last month was PTSD Awareness Month?), housing help, education, employment services, and even help starting one’s own business.
On the topic of Veterans we also added information about a new program for members of the Air Force and their families to Assistance for Child Care. In partnership with ChildCare Aware of America there is now a fee assistance program for those on active duty or in the Reserves.
A new program has expanded SNAP benefits in celebration of National Fruit and Vegetable Month (June). The government benefits site is providing advice and benefits associated with healthy foods and healthier eating. To help offset the higher cost of such foods the WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program has teamed up with SNAP and they are providing free fresh local fruits and vegetables to qualifying program participants. Learn more in our Low Income Help article.
Dental Care is important not only to your mouth but also to the rest of your body. If you’ve been putting off seeing a dentist or getting care because of the cost, you need to take a look at our article about Free Dental Care. We’ve recently updated it with new information about a national network that works with volunteer care providers to offer free or low cost services. Learn more about that and other resources for affordable care in Free Dental Care.
Did you know that Pell Grants can be used for career schools - also known as trade schools? The school must be accredited per government guidelines. There have been controversy and law suits lately about some of these for-profit schools that have allegedly misled students about their chances for a job after graduation. So if you’re considering one of these schools make sure it is not currently in trouble with the government. It can be a great route to go if you choose wisely!
Of course if you are going to apply for a Pell Grant or for any other government aid to pay for school, you must first fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Don’t be misled by people who want you to pay to apply, and be sure that you’re on the legitimate government site. It’s totally free and the form only takes about 20 minutes or so to fill out. Learn more about it — and heed the warning about taking on too much debt - in our article and updates at fafsa on ed.gov.
The Minority Business Development Agency announced its Entrepreneur of the Month in June and you might find him inspiring. He credits his father for some of his success, but he also credits this government agency for its services and support. You can learn more in our guide to the MBDA.
Itching to start your own business but you haven’t quite finalized that great idea that will get you started? There are lots of ways to stimulate and refine your thinking so that your idea is not only right for you but also right for the market. We give you l inspiration and tips as well as advice from some other entrepreneurs in the updated Small Business Ideas.
Grants for Research: Though the government seldom awards grants to individuals there are some notable exceptions. We recently expanded our article about Grants for Research to include some of these so check it out and get inspired. There are grants for individuals as well as for small businesses and we share some specific examples. Perhaps more importantly if you’re looking for such a grant, we show you how to filter your search so that you only see results that are meaningful to you. That can make a huge difference to the time and effort required for you to find a grant.
Last but not least: July is National Ice Cream Month. Now that’s a reason to celebrate! Keep cool and enjoy your summer….