A new resource on the web should make searching and applying for federal grants much easier. Set aside some time and visit Grants.gov to get a full understanding of and appreciation for this new tool available to grant seekers.

As the home page states, “Grants.gov is a simple, unified ‘storefront’ for all customers of federal grants to electronically find, apply for, and manage” funds. The site includes information about more than 900 grant programs offered by the 26 federal grant-making agencies. It streamlines the process of awarding more than $350 billion annually to state and local governments, education institutions, nonprofits, and other organizations.

A policy directive from the Office of Management and Budget requires that, as of Nov. 9, all federal agencies must post opportunities for discretionary grants and cooperative agreements online at the Grants.gov site. The directive states that potential applicants should be provided with (1) enough information about any funding opportunity to decide whether they are interested in viewing the full announcement; (2) information about one or more ways to obtain the full announcement by providing an internet site, eMail address, or telephone number; and (3) one common site for all federal opportunities that is searchable by keyword, date, Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) number, or specific agency name.

If you want to search for grants, go the site and click on “Find Grant Opportunities,” then click on “Search Grants Synopses.” You can do a full-text search or search by CFDA number, funding activity category (i.e., education, health, housing), funding instrument type (i.e., grants, cooperative agreements), and/or agency (i.e., Corporation for National and Community Service, Department of Education, Department of Justice).

Click on “Receive Grant Notification” and you will have the option of receiving selected notices based on funding opportunity number, grant-making agency, funding category, area of interest, and eligibility (i.e., school districts, county government, higher-education institutions), or you can receive all grant notices. If you select the “all notices” option, beware–this will result in more than 600 eMail messages per month, according to the site.

Applying for federal grants on the site involves a five-step process that must be followed in order. These are:

  1. Download a free copy of PureEdge viewer, which allows applicants to apply electronically and securely.
  2. Request a Data Universal Number System (DUNS) number if you don’t already have one. Call (866) 705-5711 to register for one. (See my October 2003 column for more detailed instructions about how to do this: http://www.eschoolnews.com/news/showStory.cfm?ArticleID=4682.)
  3. Register with the Central Contractor Registry (CCR) online. You must have your DUNS number in order to do this. This process may take up to 30 minutes to complete. You should receive your CCR registration within five business days.
  4. Register with the Credential Provider. This is required to submit your grant application securely, and you will receive a user name and password.
  5. Register with Grants.gov. You must have completed steps 3 and 4 before completing this final step.

If you have any problems while using the Grants.gov site, there is an extensive Customer Support section, as well as a tutorial for new visitors.

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