Monday, January 12, 2009

Is My School or Organization Eligible for Grants?

I get a lot of questions from schools and other organizations about their eligibility for grants. It’s a legitimate question, and I want to spend a little time in this blog explaining grant eligibility. Then, in my next post I’ll discuss how you can use the free grant database that Discount School Supply provides you to determine whether or not you are eligible for specific grants.

First of all, two types of organizations are eligible for the most grants. They are public schools and non-profit, 501(c)(3) organizations. The next two types of organizations in line for grant eligibility are private schools and other types of non-profit organizations. By far the least eligible for grants are for-profit organizations of any type.

Many public schools truly do not have the money to operate as they should, especially if they have large populations of at-risk students from low-income families. To be able to fund much needed technology upgrades, adequate reading programs, and arts programs slashed by budget cuts, they require grant money.
While almost all public schools are eligible for a lot of grant money, those schools with the most disadvantaged populations are eligible for the most grants.

Other organizations that receive a large amount of grant money are the non-profits with a 501(c)(3) designation. They have to apply to the federal government for this 501(c)(3) status, and once it is obtained, they do not pay federal income taxes. So many grants go to this type of non-profit organization that many schools are now setting up their own 501(c)(3) foundations in order to be eligible for these grants. Though it is not a simple process, it may well be worth your time and effort to get this designation if you are eligible.

The next two groups in line for eligibility for grant money are private schools and other non-profit organizations. More than a billion dollars a year is granted to these groups, but they are simply not eligible for as many grants as public schools and 501(c)(3)’s. There are a variety of reasons for this, but it’s not really pertinent to this discussion. It’s just important to remember two points. One, there’s still plenty of grant money out there for your private school or non-profit organization, and two, you’re going to have to work harder and smarter to get your share of the money that is available.

Finally, if you are a for-profit school, business, or organization, I cannot be very encouraging to you concerning grants. There are very few granting entities out there who want to help you turn a profit. You might be eligible for some grant money depending on how disadvantaged your clientele may be, but finding grant money will be difficult. If fact, I usually recommend that you go through the Small Business Administration. It is sponsored by the federal government, and the SBA offers a program of guaranteed loans and grants to small business owners.

Next time I will discuss using the free grant database provided by Discount School Supply to check your eligibility for individual grants. Don’t miss it.

Check This Out!

Grant Name: LEGO Children’s Fund Grants
Funded by: LEGO Children’s Fund
Description: The LEGO Children’s Fund will provide quarterly grants for programs, either in part or in total, with a special interest paid to collaborative efforts and in providing matching funds to leverage new dollars into the receiving organization. We will give priority consideration to programs that both meet our goals and are supported in volunteer time and effort by our employees.

Program Areas: After-School, At-Risk/Character, General Education, Health/PE, Math, Reading, Science/Environment, Social Studies, Technology
Recipients: Public School, Private/Charter School, Other
Proposal Deadline: 2/1/09
Average Amount: $500.00 - $5,000.00
Email: legochildrensfund@lego.com
Website: http://www.legochildrensfund.org/Guidelines.html
Availability: All States

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