The United States federal government supports many causes and business interests directly through a system of grants. These are available to nonprofits, individuals, minorities, disadvantaged persons, and other specific niche descriptions. Federal government grants cover funding for everything from space research to upgrading of real property for low-income homeowners.
Federal government grants are almost exclusively grouped in one convenient, searchable database that can be found at http://www.grants.gov. There are a few agencies which still maintain independent listings, such as the FAA (www.faa.gov) but the ultimate goal is to have every federal government grant listed on the grants.gov website.
When accessing funding through the grants.gov website, you will be asked to fill out some basic information at http://www.grants.gov/applicants/get_registered.jsp. After filling out the registration, there is a short wait of three to five business days, after which you will receive your unique identifier number (assuming that you filled out the forms correctly). You will then be able to search all open and new opportunities and access the full descriptions of the posted information and the application packets.
Federal government grants are primarily, although not exclusively, targeted toward nonprofit entities. These might be large 501(c)(3) charities, local government agencies, such as police and fire departments, or schools.
The funds may be directly available to the agency, or they may be part of large block grants disbursed to the states, and then distributed through a sort of sub-grant process. An example of this type of large grant would be the “Section 330” or Federally Qualified Health Center program. These program grants can run into the multiple tens of millions, or even hundreds of millions of dollars.
Federal government grants can also fund programs that directly benefit a single person. An example would be the programs that paid for insulation and energy-efficient windows for low-income homeowners in 2010. The funds were made available to the homeowner through a system which reimbursed them for the cost of installing additional insulation or energy-efficient windows, up to a specified limit. The homeowner did not apply directly to the government for a grant, but utilized a procedure set up within a larger grant to receive reimbursement.
Federal government grants are dependent on the funds available to the programs from invested or set-aside income available to the government, and are not mandated to be funded at any sort of dollar figure. For this reason, availability of funds to each department will vary according to the economic conditions of the country as a whole.