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Grants and Federal Domestic Assistance

Information Web page, prepared by the Congressional Research Service for Members of Congress, which gives guidance and Internet resources on Federal grants and nonfinancial assistance, as well as on private foundation funding. The Slide show "Grants Information for Constituents" provides overview and tips, reviews key sources, and demonstrates doing a typical grants request. [Updated July 2006 ]



How Best to Find Information


Find funding programs and learn how to write grant proposals:

1.       Search or browse the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) by Keyword and other indexes for grants, loans, business and nonfinancial help.

2.       Contact Federal office given in CFDA program description: if indicated, use CFDA Appendix IV: Federal Regional or Local Office Addresses (by Agency or by State).

3.       Search Federal Web sites given in each CFDA program description for more information and for State Administering Agencies responsible for managing these programs.

4.       Check current Federal grants postings at Grants.gov and apply online.

5.       Search also foundations for project funding: use the Foundation Center Web site or Foundation Center book collections in libraries to identify national, State, and community foundations.

6.       Learn how to write grant proposals: follow CFDA's Developing and Writing Grant Proposals, or take the Foundation Center Proposal Writing Short Course.

Key Federal Funding Sources


Grants.gov (via Dept. of Health and Human Services)
Federal grants Web site that allows organizations to electronically find and apply for current competitive grant opportunities from ALL Federal agencies. Grant seekers can check on notices of funding availability posted in the last 7 days; sign up to receive e-mail notification of future grant opportunities; and apply for Federal grants online through a unified process. For full Federal program descriptions, see CFDA below.

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (General Services Administration)
The Catalog (CFDA), issued annually and updated continuously on the Web, describes some 1500 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. For current notices of funding availability, see Grants.gov.

Catalog Indexes and Listings  (GSA)
Although keyword searching is often a good place to start, also browse by broad subject (Functional Area), by Federal Department or Agency, or by Beneficiary to identify more Federal funding programs. CFDA program descriptions refer to local and regional Federal office addresses, to related programs, and to Office of Management and Budget circulars, all available full text on the Internet.

Developing and Writing Grant Proposals  (CFDA)
Guidance in formulating Federal grant applications, including initial proposal development, basic components of a proposal, review recommendations, and referral to Federal guidelines and literature.

Federal Regional or Local Office Addresses  (CFDA Appendix IV; by Agency or by State)
Much of the Federal grants budget moves to the States through formula and block grants -- State, regional, and local Federal offices often handle grants applications and funds disbursement. If the CFDA program description refers to a State or regional Information Contact as listed in Appendix IV, grantseekers should contact them before applying for funding to obtain the most up-to-date information.

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 government (both Federal and State) grants development and may provide guidance to grantseekers. For help in identifying State-level grants, other State government agencies Web sites include: the Library of Congress' State Government Information and National Association of State Development Agencies.

CFDA in Print (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.

Related Federal Resources


A-Z Index of U.S. 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 FirstGov.gov also has an A-Z Index of Government Benefits, Grants and Financial Aid.

Homeland Security Grants (Dept. of Homeland Security)
Information on Federal homeland security and public safety grant opportunities, whether administered by DHS or other departments and agencies. Covers First Responder Grants (which includes Assistance to Firefighters, Disaster/Response Program, and State Homeland Security Contacts).

Disaster Assistance (Federal Emergency Management Agency)
FEMA disaster assistance falls into three general categories: Individual and Households; Public Assistance for emergency services and repair or replacement of damaged public facilities; and Hazard Mitigation funding to reduce future losses to public and private property. Also use portal to other federal disaster programs at DisasterHelp.gov.

FirstGov Government-to-Government (General Services Administration)
Thousands of grants and loans are made by the Federal government to State and local governments and other public entities. This site provides one-stop access to grants management and Federal assistance programs, in addition to resources about acquisition and procurement, financial management, and taxes.

FirstGov for Business (GSA)
Includes contracting with the U.S. government, international trade and exporting, and small business. See also Business.gov and the Small Business Administration Web sites.

FirstGov for Nonprofits (General Services Administration)
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.

Faith-Based and Community Initiatives (Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives)
The Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Justice, and Labor operate a number of programs to serve Americans in need for which faith-based and community organizations may apply. Consult Guidance to Faith-Based and Community Organizations on Partnering with the Federal Government and Federal Funds for Organizations That Help Those in Need. Many are "formula grants" made available to States and local governments, which in turn award grants to grassroots and local organizations. To learn about them, contact local and State agencies responsible for managing these programs. [Download a free PDF reader]

GovBenefits.gov (GSA)
Free online screening tool to identify government benefits and how to apply. Covers direct payment, loan, insurance, training, or other services. Browse programs by State, by category, or ‘Get Results by Questionnaire'.

FTC Consumer Alert (Federal Trade Commission)
Ads claiming federal grants are available for home repairs, home business, unpaid bills are often a scam. Most sources of grants don't give money to individuals for personal need (except in disaster situations). The FTC, the nation's consumer protection agency, also warns consumers to beware of paying "processing fees" for free information.

Federal Register (National Archives)
The Federal Register, printed each business day, publishes updates and notices affecting Federal assistance programs. Scroll down to check current year; scroll down further to enter Catalog program number, or subject/keyword "AND CFDA" in Search Terms box.

Federal Funding Report (House Information Resources)
Weekly compilation of items published in the Federal Register which affect Federal domestic assistance programs. The summary consists of three parts:(1) Federal Register Summary, (2) Early Warning Grants Report, and (3) Disaster Loan Applications.

OMB Grants Management Web Site (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.

Private & Corporate Funding Sources


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 Web sites. The Center maintains a comprehensive database on foundations; produces print, Web, and CD-ROM directories and guides; conducts research and publishes studies in the field; and offers a variety of training and educational seminars.

Grant 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.

Community Foundation Locator (Council on Foundations)
Community foundations have special interest in funding local and community projects.

Additional Sources


Geographic Tracking of Federal Funds
Two U.S. Census Bureau publications are the Federal government's primary printed documents detailing the geographic distribution of Federal monies to States and Counties:

  • Federal Aid to States
    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
    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.

Grants and Other Funding Sources (House Information Resources)
Resource page, compiled for congressional offices, covering public and private Web links under funding categories such as:

  • Where to Find Federal Grants
  • How to Apply for Grants
  • Help with Managing the Grant Process
  • Foundations
  • Nonprofit Charitable Organizations
  • Corporate Charitable Giving
  • Small Business Resources
  • International Trade & Development
  • State & Local Govt. Funding Resources
  • Disaster Assistance
  • Money for College
  • Scholarships - Specific Fields of Study
  • Internships/Summer Employment
  • Computers for Schools and Communities
  • Other Educational Resources
  • Surplus & Unclaimed Property
  • Consumer Protection
  • Demographic and Statistical Resources
  • Other Helpful Resources


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