Searching for Federal Government Grants

Sections of this topic

    The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance …

    That describes over 500 grant programs (awarding hundreds of billions of dollars), is a great place to get an overview of every grant program administered by the federal government.

    The CFDA provides a full listing of 2,110 federal programs available to state and local governments, Indian tribal governments, territories and possessions of the United States, nonprofit organizations, and individuals.

    The top five grant programs by Department are:
    • Health and Human Services (417).
    • Agriculture (229).
    • Interior (217).
    • Education (170).
    • Justice (125).

    On the CFDA Web site, you can use the search engine to identify grant programs by agency or by general topic; and, grant programs on that site are classified as either:

    A formula grant… which is federal money distributed by a state agency
    — based on some kind of formula.

    A project grant… that comes directly from a federal agency.

    The Federal Register

    ( is a major resource for specific information about available grants. Published by the National Archives and Records Administration, this is a daily publication of the rules, proposed rules, and notices about grant programs of federal agencies that is searchable by date of announcement or by topic.

    Although the Federal Register is very wordy, there is a very good reason to use it. The advance notices you can receive about federal grant opportunities will enable you to begin preparing your grant application before the official notice appears.


    Perhaps the handiest way to find grant opportunities is through this website (, which lists all current and upcoming grant opportunities by agency, number, and by topic. Clicking on a listing leads you to the grant guidelines, deadlines, eligible applicants, the amount of money available, and the estimated number of grants to be awarded.

    For example, under “family planning” there are over 100 federal grant and contract opportunities in the area of contraception, family planning services, HIV/AIDS, and STIs.

    Become a Tracker!

    Once you have identified federal grant programs of interest, you should begin monitoring them (on a daily basis) in the Federal Register or Grants.Gov. That’s the only way you will know when grant funds become available. A successful application often depends on how ready you are to pounce on a grant opportunity.


    Dr. Jayme Sokolow, the founder and president of The Development Source, Inc. helps nonprofit organizations develop proposals to government agencies, foundations, and corporations. He can be contacted at Jayme Sokolow.