We often hear people speaking and writing about grants and grant money. Well what exactly is a grant? Lets start off by clearing up what a grant is not. Grants are not benefits or entitlements. A grant is not a loan. It is not “free” money. It is not easy to come by (despite what some may say). They are not handed out to everyone and everything for no good or any particular reason. Strangely, given the above assertion that a grant is not a loan, a grant is not something that you will not have to repay should you default on the stipulations or agreement. A grant is not a waste of time to apply for, given you qualify. A grant is not something that is unattainable to the middle class. A grant is not a mythical creature which no one has ever been awarded. Grants are real. Read on to find out what a grant IS.
A grant in the strictest dictionary term is: An amount of currency given by an organization or government, for a particular use.
Your friend, the government
One of the largest providers of grants is the government. This could be federal, state or local. A federal grant is an amount of financial aid from a federal agency to a person or entity to carry out a public purpose of support or stimulation set into motion by law of the United States of America.
The above is a long winded way of saying that the government and other entities are willing to pay you and or others to get something they want done. According to the US Foundation Center, grant trusts and foundations number in excess of 88,000 and give away over $40 billion per year. The list of organizations is amazingly long and detailed. Most often, grants are given through our government. Just to give you an idea, here is list some United States government agencies that provide grants:
The Agency for International Development, The Department of Agriculture, The Department of Commerce, The Department of Defense, The Department of Education, The Department of Energy, The Department of Health and Human Services, The Department of Homeland Security, The Department of Housing and Urban Development, The Department of Interior, The Department of Justice, The Department of Labor and the list goes on and on and on. Surely we could all do something for one of these agencies! It’s time to start doing some research.
There are actually twenty-six federal agencies in the United States that offer over 1,000 grant programs annually, in various different categories. Those programs fall under 21 different categories, which range in everything from Agriculture and the Arts to Disaster Prevention, Science and Transportation. Some agencies even give grants in multiple categories.
There are also various different types of grants that you can apply for, such as: project grants, categorical grants, earmark grants and block grants.
All of the above, including grants offered by corporations, foundations and trusts are generally awarded via some kind of grant writing such as a proposal or application. Generally the recipient must provide some type of compliance reporting.
Types of grants
Among all grants, one of the most well-known would be the Pell Grant, which was created in 1972 as a basic educational opportunity grant. Pell Grants and their amounts are given based on eligibility and financial need only, enabling millions of students each year to acquire an education.
There are also non-profit and charitable organizations that offer grants to families and individuals, which are intended for use with issues such as homelessness, health and AIDS prevention. For example, this type of grant could help a transplant recipient pay their medical bills or help someone else afford a new and costly medical treatment.
There are also grants that target different groups, such as women and minorities. For example: among the grants for minority groups, African Americans have specific grants for different purposes. The main eligibility criteria is simply that you belong to this minority. Grants for Native Americans are usually awarded through scholarships, given out through The Native American Business Alliance and the National Indian Business Association. Eligibility criteria is also simply proof of ethnicity. There is also grant money specifically set aside for women who are single mothers. The Federal government and the State offers both grants and scholarships to single mothers. This is in addition to the normal grants they may be eligible for. There are also grants for small-business start-ups that are available to everyone, regardless of race, sex, national origin and age.
Grant money is out there, it is not a myth. Now that you know what a grant is and is not, you should be much more prepared to go in search of this grant money.