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Finding Federal Grants

In the realm of federal funding, navigating the path to securing grant money can appear daunting. Although widely available, the details can feel out of reach, but that is not accurate. The process starts with interested parties knowing where and how to locate opportunities.


Most individual agencies maintain a dedicated section of their website to grant notices/solicitations; however, Grants.gov is the official portal for all federal grant applications. This means all responses to a grant solicitation are submitted through this singular website. This distinction from the federal contracting process is particularly important. With federal contracts, the official Government Point of Entry, or the required location to publicize the opportunity (i.e., the solicitation, the award notice, etc.), is Sam.gov with instructions on methods of submission unique to each solicitation. The simplification of a single website through which all grant solicitations are posted and proposals are submitted is a substantial advantage to the grant-seeking community.


Federal grants are awarded to meet a federal agency’s programmatic goals; however, many agencies can be interested in similar, complimentary topics that vary slightly based on the agency. For example, it may seem that only the National Institutes of Health under the Department of Health and Human Services would be the most interested in issuing medical research grants but, in fact, the Department of Defense also seeks to issue medical research grants with a bent on how that research will benefit our nation’s warfighters. An excellent approach to find similar opportunities across agencies is to search using the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) number on Grants.gov. Because similar areas of interest would be assigned the same CFDA number, all opportunities for a specific topic across all federal agencies would be in the search results.


After identifying a topic of interest posted by a specific agency, the next most important step is to review the eligibility requirements. Each grant defines the entities eligible for awards including for-profits, non-profits, state or local governments, Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs), etc. It is important to note eligibility requirements before expending effort in proposal development as eligibility for award will be the first evaluation criteria reviewed. Eligibility on a published solicitation is non-negotiable.


Understanding how to strategically search for opportunities transforms an otherwise overwhelming process into a manageable search process. By utilizing the centralized Grant.gov platform, the doors to the federal grant funding potential are unlocked and ready for formalization of an idea into a proposal.


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