By Rebecca Game
Applying for a grant used to be a difficult and tedious process. The applications were long and often difficult to obtain. Even worse, loans used to be difficult to locate. Unless you were extremely familiar with government loan programs, in all likelihood, finding a grand and applying for a grant meeting your specific needs may have been nearly impossible to find.
Fortunately, that has changed in recent years. Grants.gov, a web site listing all available government grants, was created as part of the President’s Management Agenda (PMA) and related e-Government Strategy. Grants.gov is one of 24 PMA initiatives devoted to improving services offered by the government over the Internet. According to Grants.gov, the site was created as a partnership with the 26 Federal agencies that offer grant programs. It is organized by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, which is also the largest grant-making agency.
By visiting Grants.gov, it’s easy to see how simple it is to apply for a grant. Gone are the days of preparing extensive paperwork and printed documentation, as well as mailing the paperwork to the agency awarding the grant. Instead, applying for a grant is now done electronically through the site, offering individuals and businesses the opportunity to flawlessly submit a grant application online.
There are five steps involved at Grants.gov in applying for a grant.
1. Find an appropriate grant opportunity in which you’d like to apply. Visit http://Grants.gov/search/searchHome.do for specific information on grants available to you. Be sure you meet all criteria, or your time spent will be wasted because your application will be voided in that instance. Jot down the grant’s CFDA Number or Funding Opportunity Number, which will be needed for Step 2, below.
2. Download the application package. Once you’ve determined which grant or grants you’ll apply for, you’re ready to download your grant application package. Visit http://apply.grants.gov/forms_apps_idx.html for information. Your first step is to download PureEdge Viewer, which is a free software package required for filling out the application. The software is available to both Macintosh and PC users. Instructions are included as to how to install and use the software. After installing PureEdge Viewer, you’re ready to download your specific application package. Have the grant’s CFDA Number or Funding Opportunity Number for this step, which should have been obtained in Step 1, above.
3. Register with Central Contractor Registry (CCR). Grant applicants need to be registered with CRR prior to submitting a grant application through Grants.gov. By registering with the CCR, the organization is required to designate an e-Business Point of Contact (EPOC) According to Grants.gov, the EPOC is the sole authority of the organization capable of designating or revoking an individual’s ability to submit a grant application on behalf of their organization through Grants.gov. The CCR also provides organizational information that Grants.gov uses to verify an applicant’s identity and to pre-fill repetitive information on grant application, which will ultimately save you time in applying for a grant.
4. Register with Credential Provider. Grants.gov employs the use of e-Authentication to ensure the security of your information that is submitted electronically in an application. e-Authentication is done through the use of Credential Providers. It is the process of determining, with certainty, that the person applying for the grant is who they are claiming to be in the application. The Credential Provider for Grants.gov is an organization called Operational Research Consultants (ORC). When you, as a grant applicant, are applying for a grant, you’ll receive a username and password, which is then used to register with Grants.gov as an authorized organization representative, or in other words, as an individual designated as authorized to submit grant applications for your business or organization through Grants.gov. Once you’ve registered as an authorized organization representative, your EPOC is asked to validate the registration. Once your EPOC validates the request, the individual requesting authorized organization representative’s status for your organization will receive a notification via email confirming that you’re not able to submit grant applications electronically through Grants.gov, which is the fastest and easiest way to expedite your grant application.
5. Register with Grants.gov. As mentioned, when applying for a grant, it is necessary to register with Grants.gov as an authorized organization representative in order to submit a grant application electronically. According to Grants.gov and their instructions file, the E-Business Point of Contact (EPOC) listed on an organization’s Central Contact Registry (CCR) registration will receive email notification stating that the grant applicant has registered to submit grants. The EPOC will then need to log onto the EBiz section of Grants.gov and assign the “Authorized Applicant” role to the grant applicant. Once the EPOC does this, the applicant will receive email notification stating that they have been designated as an AOR and will be able to submit applications through Grants.gov.
While there are many steps involved in applying for a grant, doing so online will move the process along much smoother and quicker than through traditional paperwork applications. The site offers user-friendly instructions and support tools, including a tutorial, a help section, a user guide, a quick reference section, and a frequent questions and answers section. Through this information, most questions and problems are addressed, and where something unusual occurs, personalized support is also available through the Grants.gov contact center.
About the author:
Rebecca Game is the founder of Digital Women ®, an online community for women in business. A 30 year entrepreneur and dedicated to helping other women find business loans and business grants. Visit her site: Business Grants for Women