One of the most common ways to find grant opportunities from private funders is to use the Foundation Center database.

In my last column (“Where to find grants for education,” October 2010), I wrote abut how to find grant opportunities from public funders, such as government agencies. This month, I’m going to focus on finding grant opportunities from private funders, such as foundations and corporations. However, I need to add one more source of information for federal grant opportunities.

According to its website, is a central storehouse for information on more than 1,000 federal grant programs and provides access to approximately $500 billion in annual awards. If you haven’t registered yet with, I would encourage you to do this now, even if you’re not currently interested in applying for federal grants. The application process is free, and applications can take a few days to be processed. Registering now can help you avoid any problems with missed deadlines if you decide to apply for a federal grant in the future.

Today, applicants must use the system to apply for most federal grants, although there are few grant programs that still do not use this electronic system. Grant seekers can search for federal grants using and can receive eMail notification of grant announcements from specific federal agencies. Clicking on these announcements will provide you with the guidance needed for these programs, as well as the online grant package that must be completed and submitted, if applicable.

One of the most common ways to find information about potential private funders is to use the Foundation Center database. Go to, locate the nearest Foundation Center library, and pay the library a visit in order to access its database for free. When you access the database, you can search by funder interest, geographic location, and the dollar amount of a foundation’s assets, among other criteria. The Foundation Center libraries that I have visited also provided additional directories and books about grants and funding. In addition, you can subscribe to the Foundation Center database if you want continuous access from your own computer, instead of having to make a physical trip to the nearest library for information.

If you know the name of the foundation you’re looking for, you can find its website by using a regular search engine—but you should note, however, that not all foundations have a website, especially if they are small and have no paid staff. On their websites, most foundations will describe their eligibility requirements, list application deadlines and amounts of their grant awards, and provide a list of prior grantees. Many foundations also now use an online application process, so you can see what information will be needed to submit a request for funding.

Many corporate funders also include grants information on their website; however, I’ve found this information sometimes can be hard to locate. Try looking under tabs labeled “foundation,” “corporate giving,” “giving,” or “community support.” As with private foundations, you can find eligibility requirements, application requirements, giving histories, and the online application itself, if applicable.

If you’re not sure what corporate funders exist in your community, contact your local Chamber of Commerce and ask if they have a list of top employers in your community. Start researching this list to find potential funders, but don’t restrict yourself only to the major employers in your community. You might find that smaller businesses also provide financial support, although the dollar amounts they give might be smaller than those of the major corporations.

The last type of funders to research are national or local organizations related to a specific academic discipline—such as the National Science Teachers Association, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, and so on. If there is a national organization devoted to your academic field, do some research to see if it offers any grants you can apply for to support a classroom project. Again, the organization’s website probably will provide you with all the information you’ll need to decide if this is a viable funder for you to pursue.

(Editor’s note: For $35 per year, you can also receive our Grants & Funding ALERT electronic newsletter, which delivers the latest federal and private grant listings to your eMail in-box twice a month; to sign up, click here.)