We’ve all seen the headlines: “Millions in free government money for your business.” Late-night infomercials and Internet advertisements promise grants to start or expand a business. Sound too good to be true? It is. Infact, “business grants” is too general a term to describe funding available for small businesses. This funding may be from a variety of sources and can come in the form of grants, loans, venture capital, debt or equity financing or a combination of various forms of traditional or non-traditional financing.
Facts About Government Grants
The federal government does not provide grants for starting and expanding a business. Grants from the federal government are only available either to special purpose businesses that are working on research & innovation of a technology or to non-commercial organizations, such as non-profits and educational institutions in areas such as, medicine, education, scientific research and technology development. The federal government also provides grants to state and local governments to assist them with economic development.
Some business grants are available through state and local programs, non-profit organizations and other groups. For example, some states provide grants for expanding child care centers; creating energy efficient technology; and developing marketing campaigns for tourism. These grants are not necessarily free money, and usually require the recipient to match funds or combine the grant with other forms of financing such as a loan.
If you are not one of these specialized business, both federal and state government agencies provide financial assistance programs that helps small business owners obtain low-interest loans and venture capital financing from commercial lenders. Have a Question about Government Grants? Visit the Government Grants Community Forums to get answers to your questions, and discuss financing issues with other small business owners and industry experts.
How to Find Grants
If you are a small business owner, use Business.Gov’s Small Business Loans and Grants Search Tool to find specialized small business grant programs.
If you are a non-profit organization or a for-profit business involved in scientific and technology research and development, consult the following resources:
- Grants.gov - Find and apply for thousands of federal government grant programs.
- Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance – Search a comprehensive database of grants, loans and other assistance programs available from federal agencies.
The following is a selection of major grant programs provided by the federal government agencies:
Arts, Humanities and Education
- Education – U.S. Department of Education
- Humanities – National Endowment for the Humanities
- Libraries and Archives – National Archives and Records Administration
- Museums – Institute of Museum and Library Services
- Visual and Performing Arts - National Endowment for the Arts
Community and Social Services
- Employment and Labor Grants – U.S. Department of Labor
- Housing – U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
- Law Enforcement – U.S. Department of Justice
Health and Medicine
- Cancer Research – National Cancer Institute
- Health Care Services – U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration
- NIH Grants – National Institutes of Health
Science, Technology and Environment
- Energy Sciences Grants – U.S. Department of Energy
- Environmental Grants and Fellowships – Environmental Protection Agency
- Natural Resources – U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
- Scientific Research Grants – National Science Foundation
- Small Business Research and Development Grants
- Technology Grants – National Institute of Standards and Technology
- Telecommunications – National Telecommunications and Information Administration