Michael Bennet U.S. Senator for ColoradoMenu
Colorado is a hub of innovation. From our top-tier universities and research institutions, to our aerospace and biotech industries, to our forward-looking local governments—our state is leading the way in the 21st century. You can play a role in our state's growth by taking advantage of federal grants.
Federal funding will help leverage your energy and ideas on behalf of your organization to contribute to Colorado’s communities and economy. However, researching and applying for federal grants can be daunting. The information on this page, while not intended to be exhaustive, should serve as a helpful resource. Below, you'll find tips on writing effective grant proposals and information on how our office can help as you consider looking into federal grants as a potential source of funding for your organization. We've also included private and corporate funding sources as an option to supplement limited federal funding.
After reviewing the following information, if you still have questions or would like our office to assist your application, please contact our Grants Manager.
Applying for grants is becoming increasingly competitive. If you do not find a federal grant or if you want more advice, our office can help connect you with a Grants or Program Manager from federal agencies. Having their perspective and expertise can help give you a better lay of the land and potentially help guide you to other federal funding opportunities.
Our staff can also help narrow down your search for federal grants and answer questions. Please feel free to contact our Grants Manager.
Our office is available to provide a letter of support for your grant application. We ask that you reach out to our office early to mid-way through your process to allow for the appropriate amount of time to draft and process a letter. It is also helpful for you to offer draft language to our office that best describes your organization's goals and priorities and how this particular grant will assist in helping you reach those goals. It is also valuable for our office to understand how the grant will improve Colorado.
Please reach out to our Grants Manager, and we will provide you with a form to submit a request for a letter of support.
If you are having trouble hearing back from a federal agency about a grant award notification, our office can assist you by contacting the agency directly to get an update on your application or help you receive the funding you have been allocated.
Also, if you were denied for a federal grant and have not received an explanation, our office can assist you in determining what could have been done to improve your application.
A federal grant is an award of financial assistance from a federal agency to a recipient to carry out a public purpose of support authorized by a law of the United States. Federal grants are not federal assistance or loans to individuals. Grants are not benefits or entitlements.
Most federal grants go directly to states in the form of either formula (e.g. based on a state's population) or block grants. Then, the states may make sub-awards to local organizations. However, there are also up to 1,700 different types of competitive grant programs that you may apply for directly through a federal agency.Return to Top
Non-profits, educational organizations, for-profit organizations, state and local governments, tribes, and individuals can all apply for federal grants.Return to Top
A good place to start looking is grants.gov. It is the main clearinghouse for federal grant opportunities. You will be able to register to apply for grants and search notices of funding availability (NOFA's) from all federal agencies. To help save time in your search, one idea to consider is using RSS Feeds. At the bottom of grants.gov you can click on RSS, taking you to a page where you can receive a list of federal grant opportunities by agency or category.
Before applying for any federal grant, you will need to register your organization for access to grants.gov. Click on the "Applicants" tab and look under "Applicant Resources" to begin registration. The first step involves getting a Data Universal Number System (DUNS) Number to identify your organization. Think of it as a Social Security Number for your organization. The entire registration and approval process usually takes anywhere from two business days to a couple of weeks.
In addition, it is worthwhile to sign up at fedconnect.net to search for federal grants. Some listings may be on both grants.gov and this website, but it is good to double-check. There is a button to register for an account on the main page.
Another good source is the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA). Grant seekers can identify programs that might support their projects and can learn the program's objectives, requirements, application procedures, and contacts. Actual funding depends upon annual budget appropriations. For example, a federal program can be mentioned in the catalog, but Congress or the federal agency may decide to not fund that program during the fiscal year. If funding is available, you may be directed to register and apply through grants.gov.Return to Top
Grants for individuals are given primarily through financial aid and scholarships. Pell Grants are one example. To search for student aid, visit the Federal Student Aid website. Another website to visit is from the Michigan State University Libraries. You can search for funding by Academic Level, Population Group, and by Subject.
In addition, you may want to consider searching for other benefits by visiting benefits.gov and filling out a questionnaire to see if you qualify in your area. Examples include being able to identify state programs to potentially help you with child care or energy assistance.Return to Top
It is worthwhile to contact Colorado's state agencies, since as mentioned above, most of the formula and block grants are awarded to state governments. State agencies are familiar with federal program requirements and may be able to assist you with proposals and providing other guidance. In addition, they may have their own grant opportunities that are solely funded by the state.
You can find the phone numbers and links to all of Colorado's State Agencies by clicking here.Return to Top
Yes, by going to beta.usaspending.gov. The main purpose of the site is to provide you with information on how tax dollars are being spent. Data is collected on the different loans, contracts, grants, and other types of spending. At the bottom of the site, there is an option to search for Awards. You can filter by Award Type, Location, Agency, and more.
The website helps to bring more transparency to the different types of federal money coming into Colorado. In addition, it gives you a better sense of which organizations in our state are receiving federal funds.Return to Top
Yes, grant scams exist. There can be ads that claim to give you a free grant to pay for your education, home repairs, unpaid bills or business expenses. The Federal Trade Commission, the nation's consumer protection agency, has a few basic rules to keep you from losing money to scams:
As you are looking for federal grants, you should expand your search to include other sources of funding, such as foundation and corporate grants. Contact local businesses and institutions to see if they are willing to give cash contributions or in-kind contributions (e.g., professional services, equipment, or building use). This type of community-based support may also help to strengthen a federal grant proposal.
Although there are various types of foundation and corporate grants, as with the case for federal grants, competition is fierce. In addition, to increase your chances of success, you should research to find grant makers whose priorities and goals align with those of your organization. You might also consider first identifying state or local foundations. They might have more of an interest in smaller, local projects than some larger foundations that may focus on national projects or efforts.
Regardless of how you search, it is worthwhile to reach out to a corporate or foundation giving program to double-check that your proposal is a good fit.
Below is a list of resources to help aid your search:
Source: Congressional Research ServiceReturn to Top
The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance website has a "Writing Grants" page that provides the fundamentals of writing a grant proposal. In addition, the Foundation Center offers guidance for grant writing here.
This site contains sample grant proposals (geared toward education) that were successful. Examples of proposals may include ones to local, state and federal agencies, as well as proposals to foundations.Return to Top
What additional tips do you have?
The following list of tips and trends has been compiled from organizations that work with grant seekers. Below please find a summary of important tips and trends that you might consider during the grant application process.
Community Resource Center:
Colorado Nonprofit Association:
Source: Congressional Research ServiceReturn to Top