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It can help in planning a grant proposal to treat seeking a grant from the Federal government as a 12-step process. These are the first six steps:

 

1. Search. Use a project outline or a similar device as a guide for planning and identifying a suitable project. Research federal agency databases and key websites including the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA), the Federal Register, and www.grants.gov. Consider as prospects such departments and agencies as: Health and Human Services, Education, Labor, Commerce, Justice, Environmental Protection, Agriculture, and Energy.

 

2. Select. Review the  CFDA for appropriate grant opportunities. Become familiar with the CFDA Public User Guide and website. Search for opportunities by Federal agency. Enter keywords into the CFDA search feature and review program listings. Review the program objectives, allowed and disallowed uses of funds, applicant eligibility, beneficiary eligibility, application and award process, examples of funded projects, and selection criteria for each program. Use the information to create grant program profiles for later ranking opportunities as strong or weak prospects. Save links to grant programs which appear to be viable options.

 

3. Monitor. Review the Federal Register online, published daily, for appropriate active grant opportunities. Use the website’s browse, simple search, and advanced search features to locate requests for proposals (RFPs) from Federal departments, agencies, and organizations, as well as rules, proposed rules, and other notices relating to Federal grant programs.

 

4. Register. Review the www.grants.gov website for appropriate active grant opportunities. Register your organization with the System for Award Management (SAM) as a federal contractor (grant applicant) if it is not already registered. Use the website’s browse, simple search, and advanced search features to locate RFPs and other information about specific grant programs and their application processes.

 

5. Assess. Match your project to each identified Federal grant opportunity. Assess it in terms of seven questions: Eligibility: Do you qualify? Geography: Does it have restrictions? Focus: Does it fit your interests? Support: Is your organization ready to apply? Funds: Does the amount fit your needs? Time: Is the project period long enough? Deadline: Can you prepare a strong proposal in time to meet it?

 

6. Inquire. Contact the program officer (contact person) for the selected Federal grant opportunity. Be prepared to pose intelligent questions, not ones that should be answerable on your own. Verify your organization’s eligibility if you have any doubts. Ask about anticipated milestones in the funding cycle. Ask for contact persons and other public information about recent grantees in the same program that interests you. Learn about how to make Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests if you anticipate formally requesting copies of proposals recently funded under the same grant program.

 

Six more steps for winning a Federal grant will appear here soon.

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