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How to Determine Your Grant Applicant Eligibility

Before you look at the details of the funding announcement to see what’s being offered in the world of grants, you must determine whether you’re eligible for the competition and, if so, whether you’re ready to start competing.

Verify your eligibility

Are you eligible for that NOFA you just came across? Before you conclude that the grant or cooperative agreement matches your needs, check out the eligibility paragraph in the funding synopsis or full announcement to make sure your organization is eligible to apply for these federal funds. Otherwise, you’ll waste a lot of time working on an application that will no doubt be rejected.

Here’s a sampling of what you see when you look under the Eligible Applicants section of the synopsis or full announcement:

  • Nonprofits having a 501(c)(3) status with the IRS, other than institutions of higher education

  • Nonprofits that don’t have a 501(c)(3) status with the IRS, other than institutions of higher education

  • For-profit organizations other than small businesses

  • Small businesses

  • Native American tribal governments (federally recognized)

  • Native American tribal organizations (other than federally recognized tribal governments)

  • Public housing authorities/Native American housing authorities

  • Independent school districts

  • Private institutions of higher education

  • Public and state-controlled institutions of higher education

  • State governments

  • County governments

  • Special district governments

  • City or township governments

If your organization is eligible, great! If not, don’t give up; look for a potential partnering organization that’s eligible to apply, and then contact that organization as soon as possible to see whether it’s interested in being the grant applicant and fiscal agent.

Make sure you’re ready to take the plunge

After you’re sure of your eligibility, you have to ask yourself whether your organization is ready to start competing for a specific grant award opportunity. You also need to decide whether you’re willing to fulfill the grant program’s purpose after the organization is funded. When you click the full grant-funding announcement link, look for the purpose of funding or description of funding statement.

Here are some examples of purpose of funding statements:

  • National Institutes of Health — Department of Health and Human Services: The purpose of this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) is to invite applications to conduct clinical research and assume the leadership and administrative responsibilities for the Inner City Asthma Consortium (ICAC).

    The selected applicant will continue the mission of the ICAC, which focuses on the prevention and treatment of asthma in inner-city populations by conducting clinical trials and mechanistic studies in order to understand the immunopathogenesis of the disease and to evaluate and develop effective interventions tailored to inner-city populations.

  • Department of Transportation — Federal Transit Administration: The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announces the availability of Section 5307 Urbanized Area Formula Grant program funds in support of the Discretionary Passenger Ferry Grant program. This grant opportunity will be funded using $29.9 million in FY 2013 Urbanized Area Formula Grants program funds authorized by the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), Public Law 112-141, July 6, 2012.

  • Institute of Library and Museum Services: The goal of the Museums for America (MFA) program is to strengthen the ability of an individual museum to serve the public more effectively by supporting high-priority activities that advance its mission, plans, and strategic goals and objectives. MFA grants support activities that strengthen museums as active resources for lifelong learning and as important institutions in the establishment of livable communities.

    MFA grants can fund both new and ongoing museum activities and programs. Examples include planning, managing and conserving collections, improving public access, training, conducting programmatic research, school and public programming, producing exhibitions, and integrating new or upgraded technologies into your operations. There are three categories within the MFA program:

    • Learning Experiences: IMLS places the learner at the center and supports engaging experiences in museums that prepare people to be full participants in their local communities and our global society. Projects should deliver high quality, inclusive, accessible and audience-focused programs, exhibitions, and services for lifelong learning in formal or informal settings.

    • Community Anchors: IMLS promotes museums as strong community anchors that enhance civic engagement, cultural opportunities, and economic vitality.

      Projects should address common community challenges and demonstrate how your museum improves the quality of life and enriches community members’ knowledge and understanding of critical issues, provides forums for community dialogue, and/or connects individuals to resources in the broader community service infrastructure through its programs and services. Projects may include capacity-building activities that position your museum to be more effective in fulfilling its role as a community anchor institution.

    • Collections Stewardship: IMLS supports exemplary stewardship of museum collections and promotes the use of technology to facilitate discovery of knowledge and cultural heritage. Projects should support the care and management of collections to expand and sustain access for current and future generations. Projects should reflect systematic, holistic, logical approaches to the documentation, preservation, and conservation of tangible and digital collections to sustain and improve public access.

      Note to applicants: The FY 2013 Museums for America program now incorporates proposals previously solicited through the Conservation Project Support program.

If, after reading through your selected federal funding opportunity’s purpose of funding statement, you find that one or more fits your organization’s long-range plan for program development or expansion, you have a green go flag.

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