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Grants 101: An Overview of Grants Available from the Federal Government

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Grants 101: An Overview of Grants Available from the Federal Government

By AriM
Published: February 19, 2010

Without question, the majority of our users are looking for information about business grants. Tha;s why we built the Loans & Grants search tool, and published numerous articles on the topic of grants, including Grants.gov- the federal grant search engine, Government Grants Scams, and Myths about Government Grants. This overview provides some additional context surrounding grant information that is useful to small business owners.

Why ca-t I find a grant for my business?

While some grants are available to small businesses, keep in mind that they are directed towards accomplishing specific priorities identified by the government or a government agency. Grants are not awarded for an individual busines's success, but rather for benefiting the greater good. Businesses looking for start up or operating capital should visit Business.go's Loans and Grants search tool to locate appropriate funding, which would likely be in the form of a business loan.

Who is eligible for a government grant?

Organizations that are eligible to apply for government grants include government agencies, educational organizations, public housing organizations, non-profit and for-profit organizations, small business, and individuals.

The big caveat however, is that the grants available to for-profit businesses, including small businesses, do not cover start up costs, debt, or operating expenses. These expenses can be financed with an SBA-backed loan.

Small businesses may be eligible for other grants, based on their size or annual revenue, however these grants are awarded to businesses that have capabilities specific to the gran's scope. For example, a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service applies only to businesses or organizations that conserve the worl's most endangered species, while a another grant from the National Institutes of Health is reserved for companies or organizations that participate in medical research.

How do I find a government grant?

To find grants your small business may qualify for, yo'll need to visit Grants.gov, which is the portal that allows you to search for grants given by a federal agency. Grants.go's Advanced Search tool allows individuals to search through every available grant offered by the federal government. Using the advanced search allows you to search for a grant by eligibility (for example, grants where small businesses or for-profit business are eligible) or by issuing agency (for example, the Department of Agriculture). Keep in mind that Grants.gov provides information on all federal grants while the Business.go's Loans and Grants search tool only includes grants for small businesses.

To apply for a grant, yo'll first need to download read all the grant details, including eligibility requirements. Next, you will need to register with Grants.gov so you can download the grant's application packet. Detailed registration and submission information is available on the grant's synopsis page.

If your organization does not already have a DUNS number, you will need to register for as part of the grant application process. This registration is free and required for all any non-individual applying for a grant. The DUNS number is used to uniquely identify your business entity and is necessary for filling out the application packet.

The next step is to download and complete the application packet which will be available on Grants.gov as soon as the agency begins accepting applications. The packet is submitted to the issuing agency by Grants.gov. Late applications are typically not accepted. The issuing agency will only accept minor corrections or updates to applications in rare situations.

How do I apply for a grant on Grants.gov?

If you find a grant you wish to apply for, you can do so at for free on Grants.gov. You do not need to purchase anything in order to apply. Typically, the grant application packet will contain form SF-424 (Application for Federal Assistance) and may contain other standard forms. Aside from these federally mandated grant application forms, individual agencies may request supporting documentation in the form of attachments. Specific information on the requirements for these attachments, if required, can be found in a Grants.gov application packet. For a detailed overview of the application process and how to complete an application, visit the Grants.gov Applicant Resources page.

Additional Resources

I Need Money - Where do I get it?

Grants.gov - What's in it for Business?

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