Grants and Federal Domestic Assistance
Guidance and key resources to help eligible grantseekers find information on federal grants, loans, and nonfinancial assistance, as well as on private funding.
Prepared by the Congressional Research Service for Members of Congress, updated January 2011.
- Find out Who is Eligible for a Grant? Other government websites may be more suitable for personal needs, student loans, small business assistance, or other business opportunities such as government contracting. The website Government Benefits, Grants, and Financial Aid may also be of help.
- If eligible, search for programs in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA). Includes grants, loans, business and nonfinancial help.
- Contact federal office given in CFDA program description: if state or local office is indicated, check Regional Agency Offices at top of CFDA website for addresses.
- Go to federal websites given in each CFDA program description for more information and for state administering agencies responsible for managing funding.
- Check current federal grants opportunities at Grants.gov, obtain a Dun and Bradstreet (DUNS) number, register with Central Contractor Registration (CCR), and apply online (links and instructions given at the website).
- Search foundations for project funding: use the Foundation Center website or Foundation Center Cooperating Collections in libraries to identify national, state, and community foundations.
- Learn how to write grant proposals: follow CFDA's Developing and Writing Grant Proposals, or take the free online Foundation Center Proposal Writing Short Course.
- Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance
- State Single Points of Contact
- CFDA in Local Libraries
Federal website that allows eligible grantseekers (see Who is Eligible for a Grant?) to find and apply for current competitive grant opportunities from ALL federal agencies. Grantseekers can check on notices of funding availability (NOFAs) posted in the last 7 days; access an RSS feed of grant opportunities; and apply for federal grants through a unified process by downloading the application and submitting online. The website guides grantseekers in obtaining a Dun and Bradstreet (DUNS) number, registering with Central Contractor Registration (CCR), and registering with Grants.gov to apply and to track applications. For full federal program descriptions, see CFDA below.
Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (General Services Administration)
The CFDA, issued annually and updated continuously on the Web, describes some 1600 federal grants and non financial assistance programs. Grantseekers can identify programs that might support their projects and can learn the program's objectives, requirements, application procedures and contacts. Includes a detailed subject index; browsable listing of programs by applicant eligibility; and Appendix VI, Developing and Writing Grant Proposals. Appendix IV gives state, local and regional offices of federal agencies: if the CFDA program description refers to a state or regional Information contact, grantseekers should contact them before applying for funding to obtain the most up-to-date information. For current notices of funding availability, see Grants.gov.
State Single Points of Contact (Office of Management and Budget)
Under Executive Order 12372, some states require federal grants applicants to submit a copy of their application for state government level review and comment. The state offices listed here coordinate federal financial assistance and may direct federal development. For help in identifying state-level grants, other state government agencies websites may be found at State and Local Agencies by Topic.
CFDA in Local Libraries (Government Printing Office)
Although the Catalog is available full-text on the Internet, some may prefer a print edition. However, only the Web Catalog is continuously updated-- the published volume is annual with no supplements. The Catalog is available in all states in Federal Depository Libraries.
- A-Z Index Departments & Agencies
- Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
- Homeland Security Grants
- USA.gov for Business
- USA.gov for Nonprofits
- Student Aid on the Web
- FTC Consumer Alert
- OMB Circulars
Recovery.gov (The White House)
Federal assistance under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) includes grants-in-aid to state and local governments. Agency Recovery Sites links to information about federal agency and department programs. State Recovery Sites cover state projects and state contacts for grants programs. The United States Conference of Mayors Main Street Economic Recovery website gives State Breakdown of ARRA and Key Program Summaries.
A-Z Index of U.S. Government Departments and Agencies (General Services Administration)
To better develop a grant proposal, search a department or agency's Home Page to learn more about its programs and objectives. The site USA.gov also links to Government Benefits, Grants and Financial Aid.
Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (Department of Energy)
Grants are EERE's primary funding vehicle for businesses, industries, universities and others. Most EERE grants are awarded on merit on a competitive basis. EERE financial assistance opportunities are listed in the Financial Opportunities by Audience database and on Grants.gov. For state-by-state information on state, local. utility, and federal incentives that promote renewable energy and energy efficiency, search DSIRE (Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency).
Homeland Security State Contacts & Grants Award Information (Dept. of Homeland Security)
Click on map for state allocations and contact information. Most Homeland Security non-disaster grant programs are designated for state and local governments and specific entities such as colleges, etc. Unsolicited applications from individuals are generally not accepted. Includes Urban Area Security Initiative, Citizens Corps, Medical Response System, Operation Stonegarden (border security), Infrastructure Protection. Programs for firefighters may be found at Assistance to Firefighters.
USA.gov for Business (GSA)
Includes contracting with the federal government, international trade and exporting, and small business. See also financial assistance links at Business.gov and the Small Business Administration websites.
USA.gov for Nonprofits (GSA)
Links to federal department and agency information and service for nonprofit organizations, including fundraising and outreach, grants, loans and other assistance, laws and regulations, management and operations, online services, registration and licensing, and tax information. The White House Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships includes information on Grants and Resources.
Student Aid on the Web (Department of Education)
Financial assistance for education beyond high school is generally "needs-based" and often includes loans and work-study, in addition to some grants. College and university applications, websites, and brochures usually include financial aid information for prospective and incoming students.
GovBenefits.gov (via Department of Labor)
Government grants are not direct assistance to individuals, but fund state and local programs providing help to those in need. This online screening site can be used to identify state and local government benefits and how to apply. Covers direct payments, loans, insurance, training, or other services.
FTC Consumer Alert (Federal Trade Commission)
The FTC warns consumers to beware of paying "processing fees" for information that is available free to the public. Ads claiming federal grants are available for home repairs, home business, unpaid bills, or other personal expenses are often a scam.
OMB Grants Management (Office of Management and Budget)
OMB establishes government-wide grants management policies and guidelines through circulars and common rules. OMB Circulars are cited in Catalog program descriptions and may be printed out fulltext.
The Foundation Center
Gateway to information about private funding sources, the grantseeking process, guidelines on writing a grant proposal, addresses of state libraries with grants reference collections, and links to other useful Internet websites. The Center maintains a comprehensive database on foundations; produces print and electronic directories and guides; conducts research and publishes studies in the field; and offers a variety of training and educational seminars.
- Welcome Legislators and Policy Makers Covers policy development, constituent services, and other helpful nonprofit resources.
- Guide to Funding Research An overview of the funding research process for those seeking grants from foundations, corporations, and grantmaking public charities.
- Proposal Writing Short Course (also in Spanish, French and other languages)
- Foundation Finder Search for information about more than 70,000 private and community foundations.
- Requests for Proposals Daily postings of requests for proposals (RFPs) from private funding sources by broad subject category.
- Foundation Center Cooperating Collections Free funding information available in libraries, community foundations, and other nonprofit centers nationwide, including access to the Foundation Directory Online database..
Grants Resources by State (Grantsmanship Center)
Click on state map to find links to information about a state's foundations, community foundations, corporate giving programs and the state's home page.
- USAspending.gov (OMB)
A free, searchable database of federal government spending based upon Census and General Services Administration statistical data. Grants and Contracts must be searched separately: by individual organization or grant recipient; by place of performance, including by congressional district; or by federal department or agency.
- Federal Aid to States (Census Bureau)
FAS details actual expenditures of federal grant funds to state and local governments. Figures are presented to the state level by program area and agency.
- Consolidated Federal Funds Report (Census Bureau)
In CFFR, grants generally represent obligations and include payments both to state and local governments and to nongovernmental recipients. Data are provided for state and county levels.