Grant Writing Advice and Tips: The Grant Helpers Blog

Three Things to Know about Grants in 2018

Posted by Michelle Hansen on Thu, Jan 4, 2018 @ 09:01 AM

Happy New Year from all of us at We want to help you start off the new year with some important updates and tips about the grant world.

But before discussing more general areas, here is one specific opportunity that just opened. Lowes Toolbox for Education has announced its spring cycle. K-12 public and private schools, as well as parent-teacher groups, are eligible to apply. Projects should fall into one of the following categories: technology upgrades, tools for STEM programs, facility renovations, and safety improvements. The deadline for submitting applications for this grant cycle is Feb. 9.  However, if 1,500 applications are received before the application deadline, then the application process will close.

  1. Get Organized Now for the New Year

Lots of organizations, especially federal grant-making organizations, have already laid out a schedule of their grants for the new year. Some are already accepting applications for the spring cycle. For instance, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has its 2018 Forecast of Funding available here. Now is the best time to get pertinent dates on your calendar and get your boilerplate documents updated. Review the timelines for your likeliest funding sources, and prepare to apply well in advance.

  1. New Way to Apply for Federal Funding has rolled out a new way for groups and individuals to apply for federal grants. This has been a two-year transition, and on Dec. 31, 2017, the legacy PDF application package was officially retired. In the past, applicants downloaded and completed a single, big PDF application package that contained all the forms (i.e., the “legacy PDF application package.”) To work as a team, you had to email the file back and forth while making sure all contributors were using the same version of Adobe software. The new Workspace program is intended to make collaborating on an application very efficient and easy. Forms can either be completed online within a web browser or downloaded individually and uploaded to Workspace. According to the blog, applicants who have already used the new program say it is making the process faster and more streamlined.  For more information and tutorials on how to use the new program, visit the blog.

  1. Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grants may not be funded in 2018

The heavily subscribed COPS grant may be on the chopping block this year. This Department of Justice grant program provides money to law enforcement agencies for a variety of needs, including hiring new police officers, testing new strategies, and purchasing technology. In recent years, money was also set aside toward curbing the opioid epidemic and addressing gang violence. In 2017, the COPS office allocated of $98.5 million to fund 802 police officer positions for the next three years. However, a working White House budget showed the elimination of the entire COPS office. The COPS hiring program is not listed by name in the proposed Fiscal Year 2018 budget, and very little information is being shared. We will continue to monitor this situation and keep you updated on its status.

We can help you get organized and prepared to apply for grants or find grants that will fit your needs. See our widerange of services, and then contact us for a free initial consultation.

Topics: federal grants, federal funds, federal grant, application tips, grant application tips, grant tips, COPS, COPS grant, Grant Writing Tips, Grant Writing and Planning

Federal Education Grants

Posted by Alisyn Franzen on Fri, May 30, 2014 @ 08:05 AM

Federal Education Grant ProgramsAny educator knows that it is never too early to start planning for next year. While the traditional school year is currently coming to a close, highlights the following federal educational grants that may be of interest to educators and the non-profit organizations that provide support to schools and students. All of these highlighted grants are from the United States Department of Education’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE). Generally speaking, state educational agencies (SEAs), local educational agencies (LEAs), and non-profit organizations are invited to apply for these grants.


School Climate Transformation Grants (for SEAs or LEAs)

The School Climate Transformation Grant Program offers grants to both state and local educational agencies (SEAs and LEAs). These grants support the development, enhancement, or expansion of systems that support “an evidence-based  multi-tiered behavioral framework for improving behavioral outcomes and learning conditions for all students.” School climate can be positively affected by reducing bullying behavior, reducing the number of suspensions, improving students’ social skills, and more, all of which have a link to greater academic achievement.

Funding Specifics: Grants to SEAs will total 18 awards and average $400,000 each. Grants to LEAs will total 200 awards and average $118,000 each.

Due: 6/23/14


Project Prevent Grant Program

The Project Prevent Grant Program awards grants to LEAs to “increase their capacity to help schools in communities with pervasive violence to better address the needs of affected students and to break the cycle of violence.” This program is based on the idea that children experience long-term physical, psychological, and emotional harm when they are exposed to violence, either as victims or witnesses.

Funding Specifics: Grants to LEAs will total 20 awards and average $487,500 each.

Due: 6/30/14


Innovative Approaches to Literacy

The Innovative Approaches to Literacy program supports programs that develop and improve literacy skills of children from birth through 12th grade. Early literacy, motivating older children to read, increasing student achievement through school libraries, and distributing free books to families are some of the programs that are encouraged.

Funding Specifics: There is little information available at this time. A full release of information is expected on 6/18/14.

Due: Final applications are expected to be due 7/18/14. However, there might be a separate deadline for notice of intent to apply. Be sure to check the program’s full information once it is made available. has educational experts who can help your school or organization achieve your funding goals. If you need assistance finding grants, applying for grants, or meeting tight deadlines, we can help. Please do not hesitate to contact us for a free consultation.


Image credit: Judy Baxter

Topics: education funds, education grants, education funding, federal grants, education grant, federal grant, federal funds, federal education grants

Transportation Grants for Municipalities

Posted by Michelle Hansen on Tue, Feb 11, 2014 @ 20:02 PM

As the need for grant funding for municipal transportation projects increases,


it’s important to be aware of many different grant sources for transportation funding.  Federal funds, state funds, and private foundations can fund grants for public transportation, grants for road and highway maintenance, grants for recreational paths, grants for emission reduction and alternative fuel programs, and many more.  We have selected a few such opportunities to highlight below.

TIGER Grants

The government recently appropriated $600 million for Fiscal Year 2014 to the TIGER program, also known as the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery Grant Program, run by the U.S. Department of Transportation. This program funnels grant money toward road, rail, transit, and port projects. This is a very competitive grant program that funds mostly multi-modal and multi-jurisdictional projects. Last year, funds from these grants were awarded to 52 capital projects in 37 states. Requests for Proposals will be issued later this year.

Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21)

This program provides grants to states that then disperse the money to transportation programs. Each state decides how to allocate the money.  Some have open grant competitions while others allocate through legislative and political processes. Authorized by the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, the funds are dispersed among several programs including: The National Highway Performance Program, Surface Transportation Program, Highway Safety Improvement Program, Railway-Highway Crossings Program, Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) Program, and Metropolitan Planning. All of these programs have different requirements, eligibility conditions, and deadlines. The government authorized $105 billion for fiscal years 2013 and 2014 for MAP-21.

FedEx EarthSmart Outreach Programs

FedEx offers this grant program focusing on sustainable transportation solutions that reduce emissions and congestion and/or enhance safety and expand accessibility. A municipality would need to partner with a nonprofit organization to apply, and only specific program needs will be funded. Applications are accepted year round and are available online.

Environmental Justice Small Grants Program

This program, established in 1994 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), has awarded more than $24 million to over 1,400 community-based organizations since its inception. These programs support communities seeking solutions to local environmental and public health issues. Building partnerships, such as municipalities pairing with a local transit agency or a nonprofit organization, is a key in this program. In the past, these grants have helped communities deal with greenhouse gas emissions, air quality, energy efficiency, and renewable energy—all major components of transportation projects. Just last year (2013), Sunflower Community Action, Inc. in Wichita, Kan. received a grant to help with energy efficiency as it relates to air quality. This project encouraged the use of clean technologies that will help reduce soot and smog.  Requests for proposals are expected in October 2014.

Illinois Recreational Trails Program

In our home state of Illinois, the Department of Natural Resources is currently accepting applications for its Bicycle Path, Off Highway Vehicle and Federal Recreational Trails (RTP) grant programs until March 1, 2014. Funds from these grants can be used for trail construction and rehabilitation, restoration of areas adjacent to trails, construction of trail-related support facilities, and land acquisition. This program does require a 20% non-federal funding match. For the Recreational Trails Program, there is a maximum grant award of $200,000. There is no maximum grant award limit for acquisition projects and for motorized projects. Check with your state’s DNR to find similar programs.


Whether you already have transportation projects planned or are simply seeking information on what projects are fundable by grants, we are here to help. Our services are completely customizable to your needs. Contact us today and our municipality expert, Rebecca Motley, will walk you through the process. And remember, the first consultation is always free. 

Photo credit: mSeattle

Topics: critical needs, funding strategy, funding sources, funding needs, transportation grants, recreation trails, air quality, government grant, federal grant, grant opportunity, foundation grant, municipality, bus grants, environmental grant, transportation, grants for transportation, emission control

Economic Development Grant Opportunities

Posted by Michelle Hansen on Wed, Sep 11, 2013 @ 12:09 PM

Almost every government entity, from the U.S. Department of Commerce to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to state government departments, has grant monebuildingy available annually to help fund economic development projects. Millions of dollars are available for both economic development training and projects. Below is a selected list of such opportunities.

Smart Growth Implementation Assistance

In response to the need for technical assistance for economic development, the Environmental Protection Agency created the Smart Growth Implementation Assistance Program in 2005. This is an annual program open to state, local, regional, and tribal governments as well as to non-profit organizations that have partnered with a government entity. Typically, 3-5 communities are selected for this program each year and receive direct technical assistance from a team of national experts in one of two areas: policy analysis (e.g., reviewing state and local codes, school siting guidelines, transportation policies, etc.) or public participatory processes (e.g., visioning, design workshops, alternative analysis, build-out analysis, etc.). For example, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) received assistance in 2008 to help develop a scorecard that would evaluate the transportation options available to urban, suburban, and rural residents. It is anticipated that Requests for Letters of Interest will be issued in January 2014.

Rural Cooperative Development Grants (RCDG)

This is a competitive grant program through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) that aids to improve the economic condition of rural areas by providing assistance in the startup, expansion, or operational improvement of rural cooperatives and other business entities. Grants are awarded competitively on an annual basis to Rural Cooperative Development Centers, who in turn provide technical assistance to individuals and entities. Applicants can include non-profit organizations or institutions of higher education. This program does require a 25 percent match of the total project cost. The maximum grant amount is $200,000, and in Fiscal Year 2013 there was were $6.5 million in program funding. The anticipated deadline for next year is July 2014.

Community Development Block Grant Program

Every year each state administers Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) to local governments to aid in the development of viable communities by providing decent housing, a suitable living environment, and expanding economic development opportunities primarily for low to moderate-income individuals. HUD distributes funds to each state based on a statutory formula that takes into account population, poverty, incidence of overcrowded housing, and age of housing. Each state develops its own funding priorities and criteria for funding, while also choosing which local governments receive funding. However, local governments must ensure at least 70 percent of its CDBG grant funds are used for activities that benefit low and moderate-income persons. Communities may use CDBG funds for a variety of activities including, but not limited to, acquisition of property, planning activities, public activities, and demolition.

Community Development Assistance Program (CDAP)

In our home state of Illinois, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity administers this federally-funded grant program. It provides grants of up to $750,000 to local governments that can then be loaned to businesses locating or expanding in the community.  Funds may be used for machinery and equipment, working capital, building construction, and renovation.  Grants may also be available for improvements to public infrastructure in direct support of a business that would create and/or retain jobs in the community.  Units of local government in communities with population under 50,000 people are eligible to apply. Many other states offer similar programs to assist local businesses in expansion projects.

Business Development Public Infrastructure Program (BDPIP)

The State of Illinois also offers the Business Development Public Infrastructure Program (BDPIP) to local governments for improvements on public infrastructure on behalf of businesses undertaking a major expansion or relocation project. This project must result in substantial private investment and creation or retention of jobs in the state. The grant amount is based on the amount of investment as well as the job creation or retention involved. For this program, at least one private sector job must be created or retained for every $10,000 awarded by the department. Typically, the department will limit its assistance to $500,000 or less. Applications are accepted on an ongoing basis, with grants available on a very limited basis. Again, other states may have similar programs to assist in infrastructure projects for business expansion.


Our team of experts, including Municipality Specialist Rebecca Motley, can help walk you through every step of your grant journey. Please contact us, visit our municipality page, or see our complete list of services to see how we can help you find your funding needs.


Photo Credit: Clearly Ambiguous


Topics: community development, economic development, government grant, federal grant, grant opportunity, state grant

Finding Grants that Match Your Needs: Different Funding Sources

Posted by Alisyn Franzen on Thu, Jun 13, 2013 @ 08:06 AM

Not long ago, we did a series on government funding and how the new fiscal habits have changed the face of grant funding. Now more than ever, many organizations are being forced to rely on non-government funds as a source of funding. In this blog, part one of a two-part series, we discuss some of the differences in funding sources (information from the United States Department of Agriculture’s “A Guide to Funding Resources” as well as some of the questions to consider when beginning your funding search. In part two of this series, we will go into more depth regarding those same questions and provide some examples of finding good matches.

 Funding Sources

What are the differences among typical grant funding sources?

Federal Government: The Federal government awards several different types of grants.

    • Formula Grants: This type of grant uses a specific formula to distribute grants to certain states. The formula takes into account factors such as per capita income and mortality or morbidity rates.
    • Block Grants: These give states funding for a specific purpose. After states receive funding through formula or block grants, it is then up to the states to decide how to use the money.
    • Research Grants: Research grants, as they suggest, support research or application of new or revised facts and theories.
    • Demonstration Grants: These grants are used to support the feasibility of a specific theory or approach.
    • Project Grants: These fund individual projects and gives the funding agency choice of the project, which organization is awarded the money, and how much money is awarded.


State Government: These grants vary by state and are usually administered through state departments, such as a Department on Aging, Public Health, or Emergency Administration. 


Private Foundations: Private foundations are another primary funder, and they exist in a variety of forms, as outlined below.

    • Private Foundations: These foundations get income from individuals, families, or groups. Private foundations usually award grants based on their personal philosophies. Examples: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, Tiger Woods Foundation.
    • Corporate Foundations: These foundations are funded by profitable corporations. Examples: Target Foundation, Home Depot Foundation.
    • Community Foundations: These foundations are unique to their own community. Grants given from community foundations typically fund projects within the community or region.
    • Direct Giving Programs: These programs are usually branches of a corporation and donate goods and/or services to charitable causes. Examples: Home Depot Foundation, Lowe’s Charitable and Education Foundation (includes Lowe’s toolbox for Education)
    • Voluntary Agencies: Typically, these are private organizations that support charitable work that is tied to the agency’s overall mission. Example: The American Red Cross.
    • Community Groups: These are local organizations or groups and focus on supporting community-based projects. Examples: Junior Leagues, churches.


What questions should I consider when beginning to look for grants?

The following is a short list of questions that provide a good starting point for thinking about where to find funding. This list is by no means all-inclusive. We will discuss these questions in greater detail in part two of this series.

  • How much funding do we need?
  • What grants are worth going for? (Should we apply for a big grant? Is it better to apply for several smaller grants?)
  • Who will benefit as a result of the project we are trying to fund?
  • Which groups, corporations, etc. would be interested in funding this program/project?
  • What are the odds of receiving funding?
  • Is it worth the effort to pursue this particular opportunity?
  • Do we have the resources necessary to pursue this grant, or can we acquire them?
  • Can we meet all requirements, such as matching costs?

Again, these are only a few of the questions that can kick-start your thinking about grants and finding funding. Be sure to tune in to our final part of this two-part series, where we will discuss these questions and provide examples of how to find logical matches for grant funding. If you need assistance finding funding sources, you may want to consider joining our free Grant Watch List, or contact one of our experts for assistance. If you need help in deciding what grants are worth applying for, please do not hesitate to contact one of our grant experts. Remember, our initial consultations are always free.


Image credit: stevendepolo

Topics: finding grants, grant sources, funding sources, funding needs, federal grant, state grant, foundations, foundation grant, grant seeking, finding funding, looking for grants, private grant

Grant Opportunities for Municipality Disaster Planning

Posted by Michelle Hansen on Wed, Jun 5, 2013 @ 20:06 PM

Benjamin Franklin said “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” When municipalities fail to prepare for emergencies and natural disasters, lives could be at stake. Qdisasteruality planning often requires funding. Unfortunately, funding for disaster planning is decreasing just as the number of disasters is increasing. The National Emergency Management Association (NEMA) recently published its 2012 biannual report, which is a comprehensive survey of all the state emergency management agencies, and that survey showed that at least 20 states cut their budgets in the past three years. Beyond that, there were numerous local governments that had budgets cut and programs consolidated. State and local governments are also dealing with furloughs, hiring freezes, and layoffs.

In the wake of several recent natural disasters that have destroyed not only property, but also taken lives, we thought it timely to identify several grants that will help communities be prepared if a disaster strikes.

Emergency Management Performance Grants 

The Emergency Management Performance Grants (EMPG) awards grants to help governments prepare for all types of hazards. The purpose of these grants is to help provide necessary direction, coordination, and guidance so that a comprehensive emergency preparedness system exists at all levels for all hazards. There are approximately 58 grants available, and applications are due June 24. There is a cost sharing requirement for this grant.

Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grants

Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grants (PDM) grants provide funds to state and local governments to implement pre-disaster natural hazard mitigation measures. These measures must be cost-effective and designed to reduce injuries, loss of life, and destruction of property. Unfortunately, the President’s budget for Fiscal Year 2013 recommends no funding for this program. Thus, FEMA does not plan to open an application period for the program unless funds are appropriated in the FY 2013 DHS Appropriation Bill. If funds are appropriated, FEMA will post a notice of funding availability at that time.

The Hazard Mitigation Grant Program

Awarded by FEMA, the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) is designed for areas that have been declared a disaster area by the President. This program awards grants to states and local governments to implement long-term hazard mitigation measures after a major disaster declaration. The funds may be used to finance projects that will reduce or eliminate the losses from future disasters. Projects must provide a long-term solution to a problem. Applications for mitigation projects are encouraged as soon as possible after the disaster occurs. The program may provide a state with up to 15 percent of the total disaster grants awarded by FEMA. States that meet higher mitigation planning criteria may qualify for a higher percentage. The state or grantee must provide a 25 percent match, which can be fashioned from a combination of cash and in-kind sources.

100 Resilient Cities Centennial Challenge

The Rockefeller Foundation is sponsoring this challenge, in which the Foundation is inviting cities from around the world to apply to become a Resilient City. The Foundation defines building resilience as making people, communities, and systems better prepared to withstand catastrophic events – both natural and manmade – and able to bounce back more quickly and emerge stronger from these shocks and stresses. In August, cities can be nominated through a formal application process. Winning cities will be announced in three rounds over the next three years, with the final round of winners named in 2015. The winners will receive membership in the Resilient Cities Network, which will provide support and knowledge; support to hire a Chief Resilience Officer to oversee the development of a resilience strategy for the city and be part of a learning network of other CROs; and support to create a resilience plan, along with tools and resources for implementation.

American Veterinary Medical Foundation

Let’s not forget about the animals when it comes to disaster preparedness. The American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF) has established two grant categories to support state animal disaster preparedness and response efforts. Start-up grants of up to $5,000 will be available to organizations in the early stages of disaster preparedness and response planning. Start-up grants can be used for expenses related to state training and training-related activities. Matching and challenge grants of up to $20,000 are available to those who are further along in the disaster preparedness and response process. Matching and challenge grants can be used for expenses related to state training and training-related activities, medical supplies, and disaster response-related equipment. State grant applications are now being accepted for 2014. The application deadline for 2014 grants will be October 31, 2013.

The Grant Helpers are here to assist you in your grant needs. See a full list of our services, and remember, the first consultation is always free.


Photo credit: USACE HQ

Topics: federal grant, disaster preparedness, natural disaster, grants for disaster planning, grant opportunity, municipality grant, emergency preparedness

Municipal Water and Wastewater Grants

Posted by Michelle Hansen on Mon, Mar 25, 2013 @ 17:03 PM

Municipal water and wastewater projects are vital to the health and well being of a town and its residents. These projects also tend to be the most expensive developments for municipalities. As budgets shrink, municipalities are forced to look elsewhere for financial support, and grant programs are a common way to help offset the costs of water and wastewater projects. In this blog, we detail six select grant programs, most aimed toward small and rural towns, designed to help municipalities with their water and wastewater projects and training. There are, of course, many more.

The experts at the Grant Helpers can help you get started or continued on with your grant journey. Contact us today and remember, the initial consultation is always free!

USDA Emergency Community Water Assistance Grants

Sometimes emergencies happen, and when these emergencies affect the drinking supply of a municipality the results could be dangerous. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development organization offers $150,000-$500,000 grants to rural communities of less than 10,000 people that have experienced a significant decline in quantity or quality of drinking water due to an emergency, or in which such decline is considered imminent, to obtain or maintain adequate quantities of water. Applications for this program are accepted at any time.

Hardship Grants Program for Rural Communities

Designed to complement the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, the EPA Hardship Grants Program for Rural Communities helps towns of fewer than 3,000 people plan, design, and construct publicly owned treatment works or alternative wastewater services such as on-site treatment systems. These funds can also be used to provide training, technical assistance, and educational programs on the operation and maintenance of wastewater treatment systems. The EPA will award grants from a $50 million funding pool to the states, Puerto Rico, and U.S. territories. Those entities, in turn, will provide hardship assistance to small communities. 

Water and Waste Disposal Systems for Rural Communities

This Department of Agriculture grant provides funds for the installation, repair, improvement, or expansion of a rural water facility including distribution lines, well pumping facilities, and costs related thereto; and the installation, repair, improvement, or expansion of a rural waste disposal facility including the collection, and treatment of sanitary, storm, and solid wastes. There are over $300 million available in Fiscal Year 2013 for this grant program.

Solid Waste Management Grants

Municipalities with active or closed landfills can apply for Solid Waste Management Grants from the Department of Agriculture. These grants can be used to evaluate current landfill conditions to determine threats to water resources in rural areas; provide technical assistance and/or training to enhance operator skills in the maintenance and operation of active landfills in rural areas; provide technical assistance and/or training to help associations reduce the solid waste stream; and provide technical assistance and/or training for operators of landfills in rural areas that are closed or will be closed in the near future. These grants average $88,000.

Technical Assistance and Training Grants (TAT Grants)

Municipalities hoping to fund training and/or technical assistance to identify and evaluate solutions to water problems relating to source, storage, treatment, and distribution, and to waste disposal problems relating to collection, treatment, and disposal can apply for TAT grants from the Department of Agriculture Rural Utilities Service. Grants from this program average over $1 million.

Water and Waste Disposal Loans and Grants

Low-income rural communities whose residents face significant health risks can apply for grant funds from the Department of Agriculture’s  Water and Waste Disposal Grant Program. Funds may be used for 100 percent of costs to construct, enlarge, extend, or otherwise improve a community water or waste system; extend service lines; and connect individual residences to a system.

Let the Grant Helpers assist you in meeting your community’s water and wastewater needs by working hand-in-hand with you to apply for grants. Browse a list of our services to see how we can help you!

Photo Credit: Jenn Durfey

Topics: water grants, wastewater grants, government spending, government grant, federal grant, grant opportunity, municipal grant, municipality grant, grant seeking

Trends and Projections for U.S. Federal Government Grant Funding, Part 2 of 2

Posted by Alisyn Franzen on Fri, Mar 15, 2013 @ 11:03 AM
(This article is part two of a two-part series on the trends and projections for U.S. federal government grant funding. Part one of this series highlighted government grant funding trends from the past several years, what those trends might mean for grant funding and the grant funding process, and the potential impact of the recent sequestration cuts.)

In this article, part two of a two-part series, we will focus on the effects of the recent U.S. federal government’s sequestration cuts and predictions for the future of grant funding. We also will discuss how grant seekers might need to adjust their approaches in order to find and receive grant funding in the future.


How will the sequestration cuts affect federal grant funding?

Federal_Grant_SpendingIn a February 27, 2013 memo with the subject of “Agency Responsibilities for Implementation of Potential Joint Committee Sequestration” and written to the U.S. heads of executive departments and agencies, Controller Danny Werfel wrote, “Given the widespread use of grants, loans and other Federal financial assistance to non-federal entities (e.g., State, local and tribal governments, non-profit organizations, and companies), sequestration will impact the funding of these activities.”

He continued to outline the agencies’ responsibilities in managing their budgets in order to “protect [the agencies’] mission[s] at the post-sequestration level.” He further suggested that agencies “consider delaying awarding of new financial assistance obligations, reducing levels of continued funding, and renegotiating or reducing the current scope of assistance.” (See the entire memo here.)

So, according to this memo, the sequestration cuts will only further reduce the amount of money that the government sets aside for grant awards.


What do these trends mean for grant funding and the grant funding process?

In short, the federal government is likely to continue cutting future spending on the money it sets aside for grant awards, and until government officials come to an agreement about sequestration cuts, money that is currently set aside or has already been agreed to be awarded might need to be scaled back and cut as well, creating even bigger challenges for those seeking funding. As the federal government reduces grant funding, applicants for federal grants can be expected to see additional funding sources as well.

Private foundations, which also award billions of dollars annually, will in turn see more applicants competing for non-federal funds. Corporate foundations will also likely see a rise in grant applications, and non-government sectors, such as these, could also experience budget cuts as a result of cuts at the federal level.

To summarize, those seeking government funding can expect the following:

  • less federal funding available
  • increased competition for federal funding
  • increased competition for other non-federal funding sources (as a result of a need to find alternate funding sources)
  • additional reliance on non-federal funding sources, especially in educational and municipal sectors

The process and scope of these changes can make the search for funds more difficult. Organizations will need to accommodate lower levels of federal funding by 1) expanding the search for possible federal and state sources, 2) looking at additional funding sources beyond government grants, and 3) competing more effectively for fewer available dollars. Regarding the last point, more effective submissions may mean fewer submissions, but more carefully selected and more highly crafted ones. can help in all of these key areas, with funding searches across multiple types of databases, overall grant strategy assistance, help with any one specific proposal, and many other services.  To strengthen your approach, contact us today. We have experts in municipality, educational, non-profit, and other areas.  Our initial advice and consultations are always free.

For additional information on funding trends, be sure to continue checking our blog for future articles on grant-making foundations, grant-making corporations, and other articles related to grant-funding agencies, such as our recent “10 Well-Known U.S. Grant-Making Foundations You Should Know About.”


Image credit: Andrew Malone, andrewmalone

Topics: grant trend, funding trend, federal grant budget, government grant budget, government spending, government grant, federal grant, federal spending, sequestration cut, sequester cut

Trends and Projections for U.S. Federal Government Grant Funding, Part 1 of 2

Posted by Alisyn Franzen on Wed, Mar 13, 2013 @ 15:03 PM
(This article is part one of a two-part series on the trends and projections for U.S. federal government grant funding. Part two of this series will highlight the effects of the recent U.S. federal government’s sequestration cuts and predictions for the future of grant funding.)

In the United States, there are 26 federal agencies that offer more than 1,000 grant programs annually. These programs are placed into 21 different categories. (For a full list of the 26 federal agencies that provide grants and the various grant categories, click here.)

The uncertain state of the U.S. economy and the most recent announcement of sequestration cuts have raised many questions about the future of the federal government’s grant spending. In this article, we highlight government grant funding trends over the past several years, and we discuss what these trends might mean for grant funding and the grant funding process. We also examine the potential impact of the recent sequestration.


How has government grant spending changed over time?

According to, which defines grants as “funds awarded to a non-federal entity for a defined public or private purpose in which services are not rendered to the federal government [and] … includes Cooperative Agreements,” a decade ago (FY 2003), the federal government spent $493.7 billion on grants. In FY 2008, that amount had decreased to $419.5 billion; by FY 2012, $537.1 billion was spent, showing a significant increase in how much was spent between FY 2008-2012. The chart below shows the total amount of money, in billions of dollars, that the 26 government agencies have spent on grant funding over the last five years.


If one further breaks down these numbers, he or she will notice that federal grant spending peaked in FY 2009 ($664.4 billion). Much of that year’s increase can be attributed to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which was enacted in February 2009. As of March 1, 2013, approximately $250.8 billion has been paid out since the act’s enactment. Since then, there have been major cuts, with some federal agencies suffering more than others.

The information in the graph below is from and represents how much the federal government spent on grants from the top 10 funding agencies, and how much each of those agencies spent during each of the last five fiscal years (2008-2012), in billions of dollars. The lines show movement of each agency within the rankings from year to year.


After looking at the table above, it is obvious that the Department of Health and Human Services is consistently the top grant-awarding government agency each year, followed by either the Department of Transportation or the Department of Education. Historically, over all funding fiscal years, the top three funding agencies have been the Department of Health and Human Services ($3,927.9B), the Department of Transportation ($672.9B), and the Department of Education ($622.3B). (Lifetime numbers are not included in the chart above.) The fourth most-funded agency is the Department of Agriculture at $295.8B, which demonstrates an enormous gap from the $622.3B that the #3 Department of Education has awarded over its lifetime.

By examining the numbers in the above graphs, one will notice a definite downward trend in the amount of money being spent by the government to fund programs that have long relied on federal support. In part two of this blog, we will discuss how sequestration cuts will potentially further affect federal grant funding and what these trends mean for grant funding and the grant funding process.

While grant funding continues to be jeopardized by cuts, one thing stands true – The Grant Helpers are here to help you wherever you need it most. If you have a simple question, feel free to ask one of our experts. If you would like help in finding funding, writing a grant, developing programs, or in any other part of the grant writing process, please do not hesitate to contact one of our experts today. We have experts in municipality, educational, and non-profit areas, and our initial advice and consultations are always free.

Topics: grant trend, funding trend, federal grant budget, government grant budget, government spending, government grant, federal grant, federal spending, sequestration cut, sequester cut