There are a lot of existing grant programs established by the US federal government, each focusing on specific social issues that need to be addressed such as poverty, homelessness, school funds, and financial crisis.
People who need help in terms of any of the mentioned issues can apply for a grant program. Hence, for those people who plan to apply for such programs, determining if they are eligible is one important step to consider.
In determining your eligibility, it is crucial to know whether you are applying on behalf of an organization or you are applying as an individual. Next is to look for grant programs that suit your organization’s needs or your individual needs.
After you finish these initial steps, you can finally determine if you are eligible for the program you found. In some cases, the program’s official website provides a tool in determining your eligibility before moving forward to the actual application process.
What is a Grant
Basically speaking, a grant or a government grant refers to a financial award issued to qualified individuals or organizations. The funds usually come from the federal government and sometimes from the local state government.
Take note that a government grant is different from a loan, loan subsidy, revenue sharing, or direct appropriation.
This means that the grantee is not obliged to repay the amount issued to him/her, instead, the money is expected to be used for the expected purpose, which mainly addresses the issue targeted by the program.
There are about 1,000 grant programs every year managed and supervised by different agencies of the federal government. The government’s main purpose for this is to:
1. Address social issues;
2. Support various arts, sciences, and educational institutions; and
3. Funds projects that will promote economic improvement.
Who is Eligible?
There are many types of organizations that may be eligible for a grant program. Certain grant programs are available for individual applicants too. Categories of organizations or individuals that may be eligible for a grant are listed as follows:
• Government Organizations - This category includes local government units in states, counties, cities, or districts.
• Educational Organizations - This category includes private or public higher education institutions as well as independent school districts.
• Non-profit Organizations - This category includes non-profit organizations either having 501(c)(3) with the IRS or not.
• For-profit Organizations - These can be larger types of businesses or other organizations that include profit goals.
• Small Businesses - This category includes businesses that meet the standards and qualifications set by the SBA (Small Business Administration).
• Public Housing Organizations - Many available grant programs focus on housing benefits. These grants are usually issued to public or Indian housing authorities.
• Individual applicants - As stated earlier, individuals can also apply for government grants. However, most of the grants found on US government sites are intended for organizations. You can find some individual grants from the US official website for available grants at Grants.gov.
• Foreign Applicants - Foreign applicants are also welcome to be issued government grants. The authorizing legislation and agency policies are responsible for determining foreign organizations qualified for application. Unlike the application process for domestic applicants, there may be some additional steps that foreign applicants must accomplish to complete the application process.
There are actually two ways you can consider when determining your eligibility:
1. Determine your eligibility by applying through Grants.gov - Upon searching and clicking a grant program on this site, information about the program, its eligibility requirements, and the application process will show.
2. Determine your eligibility by assessing the eligibility requirements of the grant opportunity you just found.
Types of Grant Programs
The federal government has two types of grants, mainly:
1. Block grants; and
2. Categorical grants.
Block grants are government grants that provide funding to activities that the authorizing legislation identified as eligible. Activities such as community development, crime control, education, and health services are several examples. Major examples would be:
• The Community Development Block Grant or the CDBG - This may fall under any of the following categories: historical preservation, demolition, economic development, housing assistance, public service activities, and the like.
• The Local Law Enforcement Block Grant or the LLBEG - This provides funds to local state governments used to support crime prevention and public safety activities.
Categorical grants usually provide funds to specific activities or programs. These types of grants also include requirements when applying. Examples of categorical grants are educational grant programs and highway grant programs.
Other Types of Grants
There are other types of government grants.
1. Project Grants - This type of grant has similarities with categorical grants and usually provides grants to qualified projects and organizations providing specific services.
2. Formula Grants - This type of grant involves a decision rule wherein the funds are issued based on quantifiable variables. An example would be funding a school based on the specific amount of money allocated to each pupil.
3. Matching Grants - This type of grant includes a match requirement. This means that the grantee or recipient will give a contribution to the project cost.
Grant Fraudulence occurs when a grantee commits deception towards the spending of the grant money issued. This deception may involve lying about the personal information given or inappropriate spending of money.
Grant fraud is prevalent within the country. Considering that the government spends billions of dollars annually to be given as federal grants to qualified organizations, educational institutions, universities, and individuals, the probability of grant fraud cases is high.
Help Fight Grant Fraudulence
The high probability of grant fraud within the country may give the government a hard time detecting fraudulent activity, but with your action, you can help the government eradicate this unethical behaviour and prevent further wastage of government funds.
If you happen to witness an organization or individual committing grant fraudulence, report it immediately to the federal Inspectors General of your state.
Federal Inspectors General is responsible for addressing issues on grant fraud and abuse within their respective programs.