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What is a grant and how does it work?

A grant allows a nonprofit organization to raise money, and provides a tax break. In the U.S., grant agencies like the U.S. Agency on International Development (USAID), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and several state grants agencies give awards to help nonprofits with research, development and communications projects. Grants can include grants to start a company or program; to hire staff; or to build and staff a new facility. You may also qualify for a grant from your state’s agency on international cooperation or a group of public colleges and universities that use federally sponsored grant money. Other grant options include grants to help small businesses, to help veterans, or to fund a science curriculum. You’ll find full details below.

When applying for a grant, note:

The federal government has different criteria for what kinds of organizations can receive grants, including:

Nonprofit research organizations

Research organizations in the federal government (i.e., the Pentagon, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the U.S. Public Health Service)

Public health and education organizations

Small business development organizations

Veterans organizations

Education and social science organizations

Nonprofit groups: There’s a different set of criteria for grantees in each category.

The grant process: Before you file for a grant, you’ll be asked to complete several forms. The form you complete will determine your eligibility for one of seven grant types.

You also may need to submit a list of potential applicants, along with your application form and the other documents that are required to grant approval.

Grants in Grants

The U.S. grants the same rules that apply to other countries—namely, that you must apply to the United States for your grant and that each grant recipient must qualify. You’ll need to apply for federal grants from the U.S. government. Once you file your application or submit your application fee in your state, you’ll receive a notification from the U.S. Secretary of State’s office. This page describes how to apply for a grant in the USA.

Note: All grant applications must be accompanied by a tax payment.

Applications must be received by the U.S. Secretary of State’s office by April 1st. After that date, the following types of grants may become available for award:


National Science Foundation (NSF): Grants in the National Science Foundation for international collaboration and education projects support research activities. Each grantee