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Grants Programs

Federal grants,  State grants , Local grants


Federal Grants


The first place to look for federal grants is the government, which provides the largest number of grants to businesses and other organizations. An excellent and comprehensive place to begin your search for a federal grant is the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance, or CFDA. This catalog offers 15 different types of federal domestic assistance, including formula grants and project grants. Formula grants are given to states "in accordance with distribution formulas," and project grants provide funds for "specific projects . . . [which] can include . . . research grants, training grants, . . . technical assistance grants . . . and construction grants" http://12.46.245.173/pls/portal30/CATALOG.TYP_ASSISTANCE_DYN.show


This site also gives information on how to apply for federal assistance. Essentially you use the search engine to find programs which will meet your needs. It will give you information on what the program offers and what you need to do to apply. It gives information for contacting the agency offering the grant so that you can find out directly from the source if your grant proposal or project proposal meets their parameters for funding, if there are funds available at the current time, and answers to any other questions you might have. If everything seems to match well, the next step is to apply for the grant. There is a standard form 424, called the Application for Federal Assistance that you will usually use, although certain agencies may have other forms you will need to fill out as well. The CFDA also gives help with writing the grant itself, and explains all the parts of a grant proposal.


You should also check out Grants.gov. This website lists all types of federal grants that the government offers. It offers a search engine that you can use to find grant opportunities, and you can also download an application for writing a grant proposal here as well.


In addition to the government, another place to look for grants is foundations and non-profit organizations. There are a couple of great websites that offer a lot of information about grants available through foundations and non-profits. One is The Foundation Center. One especially unique and useful feature of this site is a listing, both in a book form and online version, of Foundation Grants to Individuals. This lists, all in one place, grants for individuals rather than non-profit organizations. There is a small subscription rate for the online service, and the book is available for purchase http://foundationcenter.org/getstarted/individuals.


Their materials are also available at cooperating libraries. Additionally, they offer online courses in grant writing and how to research grant opportunities. As you might have noticed, some for-profit corporations also have foundations that sometimes provide grants. One well-known case in point of this type of funding would be Bill Gates of Microsoft Corporation who also has the Gates Foundation, which gives grants for educational purposes, for one example from among many of their beneficiaries.


Another useful site is USA.gov. Here they list USA.gov for Nonprofits. You might not currently be a non-profit, but you could either become one or you could become affiliated with one in order to become eligible for grant monies, so it doesn't hurt to take a look around this website. It offers many opportunities for grants and their eligibility requirements and application deadlines.


You might not find the grant you wanted through the government, but that's okay. There are other avenues available such as foundations and non-profit organizations that might be able to help you find the money you need.


What can they be used for?


Federal grants can be applied for and used predominantly by organizations and non-profit organizations, but usually not individuals. The amount of grant money awarded varies by each individual grant, and you must follow their guidelines for using the funds. On the federal level, the government tends to offer more loans than grants for individuals who would like to use the money to start a business. There are some federal grants available that can be used to help and enhance already established small businesses. For instance, if your business deals with a field of science based on plants or animals, there is a Small Business Innovation Research Program that provides a project grant for small businesses to do research that will "stimulate technological innovation and the national return on investment from research through the pursuit of commercialization objectives" http://12.46.245.173/pls/portal30/CATALOG.PROGRAM_TEXT_RPT.SHOW?p_arg_names=prog_nbr&p_arg_values=10.212. This is simply one example out of many available that pertains to how federal grants can be used.


What can't they be used for?


In general, federal grants tend to be given to organizations and non-profits rather than individuals. These organizations are usually located at the state and local levels, so then the money typically filters down to individuals through state and local organizations. However, there are a few exceptions, such as the Foundation Grants for Individuals, as mentioned earlier.


Federal grant money might be awarded as a project grant for use in completing a project. This would cover project expenses, but would not cover things like start-up costs for your business, or your personal living expenses while you worked on the project. If you are looking for grant money to take care of your living expenses, or health expenses, there is another website called www.GovBenefits.gov, which offers assistance in these areas.


As you begin reading each individual grant, you will see important information that you can use to determine if you should apply for the particular grant and for what it can and cannot be used. One feature that you will find in each specific grant entry is the average grant size awarded. This will help you when you are working on a budget for your project, and you can determine if the grant offered is an appropriate size for your project. If there are any restrictions placed upon who is eligible to apply, you will see it in the grant entry. Perhaps the grant is limited to people who live in a certain state or a certain city or area of the country. You might also see a listing of sample grants, where you will get to look at current recipients of grants from a particular organization. This information can help you determine if your proposed project has any similarities and if it will be a good fit for the foundation or the grant-making organization. Each entry will also go through application procedures, so you will know exactly what you will need to do to apply for the grant.


State Grants


No matter where you live, each state offers a selection of grants to people living in the state. At the state level is where you will likely find grants for attending school. This might be a pre-start-up cost for you if you require some training before you begin your new business, so this is an indirect advantage of grant money available at the state level. Although many of these programs are focused on providing state grants for low and middle-income students to attend college, there are some grants available for businesses.


For example, did you know that on the Governor of Texas's website they list procurement opportunities? If your business sells furniture, or if your business provides services such as computer programming and service, maintenance and repair, moving services, or temporary personnel, then your business might be eligible to "procure" the contracts and you would make the money for them. This is not a grant per se, but it does offer the opportunity for a business to get money that does not have to be paid back.


If you are in New York, the state's Governor's Office of Regulatory Reform site offers tax credits for businesses that operate and are certified in the Empire Zone. This will save your business money, and make it easier for you to stay in business and put your money toward expanding the business rather than paying taxes. New York also offers low-rate loans for existing small business expansion.


If you want to relocate a business to New Jersey, the state offers a grant in the form of tax credits to offset your business taxes. The grant can be as high as eighty percent of your taxes, so it definitely pays to look into these types of opportunities at the state level. There are also grants available for employee training in job safety and health and basic literacy skills.


If you live in Connecticut, according to the state's office of Policy and Management you may be eligible for a grant for $10,000 if you are an individual or company with less than 30 employees that has created a renewable energy technology that has not yet been sold. You can use the money for such purposes as product development and testing, developing your business plan or meeting your payroll, among others.


This is just a small selection of what type of business assistance is available at the state level, but it gives you a jumping off point of some of the places in your state where grant money might be available. It also is wise to remember that, in terms of state grants, many foundations and non-profit organizations give grants to people living in a particular state, but mostly those people have to be a non-profit organization or affiliated with one and not an individual in order to qualify.


What they can be used for


State grants are primarily for funding business expansion rather than for start-up costs. There are some exceptions, one being if your new business will be located in an economically depressed area and you will hire local people to work for you. Another is if you want to start a business that will improve the environment in some way, such as a recycling business of some kind. If you are looking for state grants that would provide for a reduction of certain taxes you would normally have to pay, they are available as well because states want to encourage new businesses to form within their states to provide new business and jobs to the area.


What they can't be used for


State grants tend to not cover start-up costs for a new business. You usually will not be able to go out and rent a building or buy machinery or advertise your new business with this type of funding. This sort of funding is often more available at the local level, as we will take a look at next.


Local Grants


You can also find grant money available for small businesses to access and use at a more local level. You will want to see if your city or nearby cities has or have an Economic Development Council. These councils offer a wealth of help for new local businesses. They all vary a bit, but likely here is where you can find out what the business climate and the demographics are for the town in which you will want to do business, which will assist you in writing your business plan.


One example of this is the Thurston County Economic Development Center. They offer grants through the Washington Technology Center's Research and Technology Development Grant Program, for applied research projects to make their way out of the lab and into the marketplace. Another type of financial assistance they make available is the Community Development Block Grant Float Loan Program, where the city applies for a grant and with that money makes available short term loans to private businesses that will create jobs for lower-income individuals http://www.thurstonedc.com/Page.aspx?hid=115.


You can also sometimes find business grant money from your local government. In the Seattle area, among others, if you are planning a larger new business that will employ 150 people and will require building, you can receive King County Green Building Grants if your project will be LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, certified, which is building for conserving resources. http://www.cityofseattle.net/sustainablebuilding


Your local Economic Development Administration might also provide you with resources to start a business. If you are a non-profit organization or an affiliate of one, you might be able to apply for an economic development grant that can be used by the nonprofit for expenses related to planning for lessening unemployment and improving incomes in an economically distressed area, which can make your business plan stronger and increase the chances of your business on paper becoming a reality. http://www.downtowncamas.com/edrguide.htm.

Other places to look for local grants are at your town or city's Chamber of Commerce. Sometimes they might not offer a grant to a business, but they do offer grants to non-profit organizations, so your business could work with a local non-profit to develop a program that would meet the grant's qualifications.


Through a Chamber of Commerce you might also find that a particular city offers a grant to qualified businesses equal to a percentage of their investment in the first year of the business's existence if the company is located in a particular area of the city.


If you belong to a business organization or association you might find local grants available through these resources, as well as small private foundations and family foundations that are located in your area and which might fund local projects. There are many business organizations and associations available, ranging from the Arizona Bioindustry Association to the American Philosophical Association and the Computing Technology Industry Association, to name a small number of business associations out there. These types of organizations often offer help and support to a new business through education, perhaps a mentorship program, and sometimes grants.


What can they be used for?


The uses of local grant money can be as varied as the number of different grant programs you explore. Many grants from higher levels up at the state and federal level are bestowed on cities. There are often grant departments that function within a local city government, and their job is to find grants that can be used to fund city projects that will benefit all the citizens of the city. This can help a business because the city can get grant money to pay for the construction of roads that will bring customers to your business more easily, or they might pay for improving a downtown area to attract more people and customers to the downtown sector of a city or town where your business might be located, for example.


You might also find local grant money available to help you attend a trade show in the United States or even in other countries. This will assist your new business in finding customers and introduce your products to new markets, which would help your new business to grow.


Another avenue of resources is grant money that is bestowed on a local organization, usually a non-profit one or a foundation, and then the local non-profit makes various types of resources available for people who want to start a business. Often these resources are given to whoever is the focus of the non-profit foundation. It could be children and education. Or it might be women or minorities, or other types of beneficiaries. Sometimes money is available if your new business is located in an economically depressed area of a town, and if your new business will hire local people who come from an economically depressed background, then you will find many incentives available from a city or town to help bring your new business there.


If you are a professor affiliated with a local college or university, there is grant money available for research projects. Many of the research projects tend to be oriented toward the science fields, such as biomass energy and other types of technology, as well as environmental concerns such as renewable fuel research, and health-related research.


If you want to start a business that has a science and environmental focus, there is grant money available for individuals who partner with a university or other organization and work together on developing new types of products, typically with a renewable energy focus. The purpose of these types of project grants is to develop a product which can then be introduced to the public. In addition, at the local level you may find grants available for educational pursuits that would give you the skills you need to start a new business.


What can't they be used for?


Even with local area grant opportunities, they often cannot be used for an individual's business start-up costs. What is available at the local level are tax incentives, which can be sizable, and low-interest loans based on grant money that your local city or town received from the state or federal level. Local grants are also not usually available to for-profit corporations. Local grant money is often more available to non-profit corporations.


Every grant opportunity has specific parameters that must be met for applying for the grant, and if you are selected to receive the grant, what it can and cannot be used for. If you are awarded a project grant, then the money is usually used for funding the project, and not other expenses, so it pays to read the grant announcement carefully for all the details.


Now that you know the differences in the types of grants and their various uses, let's take a look in greater detail about where you can find grants.

Chapter 3 �

Where To Find Grants


As you understand from the previous chapter, there are grants available for businesses at the federal, state and local levels that can be used for a wide variety of purposes. Now we will take a more in-depth look at some of the places where you can begin your search for grants that will meet your specific needs.


The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance


This is the largest, and likely, the single-best reference on where to find grants at the federal and state levels of the grant pipeline.


This website is a portal to a database of all types of Federal programs that would benefit state and local governments, Indian tribes, public and private for-profit and non-profit groups, special groups and individuals. This database gives you information about specific grants, and then you can contact the specific office that is in charge of the grant to learn how to apply for it.


You can narrow your search by looking at their Assistance Programs listings page, or you can do a wide sweeping search of all the programs they have listed. Each topic, for example the Agricultural Research-Basic and Applied Research topic, has a corresponding program number that precedes it, which refers to the federal department that is in charge of the particular grant and the numerical order of grants. They will list the type of assistance offered, in this case project grants, and they will tell you how you can and cannot use the grant money. They will list the eligibility requirements, in this case a non-profit university or college or a non-profit research organization.


It can also give information about how to apply and what their evaluation procedure is for the applications and how they award the grant. You will also see what the deadlines are to apply, and how long it will take them to get back to you and let you know if you were awarded the grant or not.


Some grants also have requirements for after the time you have received a grant, which can include things like reports and audits. You can also learn how much money they usually award, and contacts to ask questions. They helpfully also might list related programs. These are other places where you will want to explore to see if your grant proposal will work for these other programs because they are similar to the one at which you are currently looking.


Grants.gov


This is another heavy-hitter grant website that offers over four hundred billion dollars each year in Federal grant money. It is a government requirement that all Federal competitive grants be listed on this website.


You can search for grants by using a keyword search, or a category or agency search, as well as the CFDA number. When you are ready to apply for a grant here, you will discover that it can be done by downloading an application package. Then you can work on it offline and take the time you need to complete it. It can then be submitted online when it is complete. You can also track your application online as well, to see where it is in the process of evaluation and acceptance.


If you choose to apply for a grant at this website, you will need to register with them as either an organization or an individual. Individuals registered as such are only allowed to apply for grants for individuals and not grants for organizations. If you are registering as an organization, you will need to select someone in your organization to be the authorized organization representative who will register with a credential provider.


There is also a helpful e-mail alert feature where they will send you an e-mail describing new grant postings on the site. Here you will find a glossary of the terms that you will see used at the website and a list of frequently asked questions. They also offer an indexed User Guide that takes you through the whole process of finding and applying for a grant at this site.


State and County Economic Development Offices


After you type the above descriptor into a search engine, you will receive a list of different offices. You will want to look for your state and select that one. Each of these sites will usually have a search feature, into which you will type "grants." You should then get a list of what is available in terms of grants. It might be listed as loans and grants. Many states also offer community service block grants which might provide you with the funding you require. Here you may also find energy efficiency grants, project grants and low-interest loans, job creation tax credits, job creation grants, grants supporting research and technology development, and manufacturing equipment grants.


You will also find links to various state agencies. This is a good place to look at agencies that have something to do with your new business, and see what kinds of assistance are available. Some of the state websites might offer a business gateway, and there you can look for grants as well.


Another related resource that will be useful in the grant-seeking process will be your local Small Business Development Center. This organization can help a new small business find funding sources.


The Foundation Center


If you find that there are few grant opportunities available for your proposed new business from the government, do not despair. There are also grant monies available from private foundations. Often these foundations are affiliated with a family, such as the Ford or Rockefeller Foundations. Some foundations provide grants for an area in which they have a specific interest. It might be health issues, or help to children, or women, or minorities, or any number of beneficiary types. There are a wide variety of grants available through foundations, including some that will cover building costs or start-up funds. In general, foundations tend to give money to non-profit organizations, so if you are an individual you might find more grant opportunities available if you become a non-profit entity or if you affiliate with an existing non-profit organization.


If you are looking into grant opportunities available from foundations, one of the best websites out there is for The Foundation Center. They have a complete database on U.S. foundations and the grants they offer. They have five regional library-learning centers and many cooperating collections where the public can access their useful publications and information. This is a great website for individuals who are seeking grants.


Unlike many of the other resources previously covered, the Foundation Center provides help for individual grant seekers. They offer training and tutorials about the basics of finding potential foundation resources that will be a good fit for you. They also offer training about finding a fiscal sponsor or affiliating with a non-profit organization. If you are a non-profit or affiliated with one, there is an Associates Program where there is a researcher on-call who can give answers from all the Foundation Center's databases. They host several message boards where you can post questions as well, and they provide a bulletin in which grant makers request your proposals for specific projects. At this website you can learn more about common grant application format. This allows you to fill out one grant proposal and submit it to several specific foundations, and is a real time saver.


Now that we have gone through some of the best resources for finding grants in more detail, you are probably realizing that you have a vast amount of material to read and process. Our next chapter deals with focusing your attention on the areas that will have the most benefit to your specific situation, and how to avoid some of the pitfalls that can sometimes come with grant seeking.

 
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