Federal Funding

Grants and Federal Domestic Assistance

Guidance and key resources to help eligible grantseekers find information on federal grants, loans, and nonfinancial assistance, as well as on private funding.

Prepared by the Congressional Research Service for the U.S. Senate, updated January 2021.  

How Best to Find Information


  1. Find out Who is eligible for a Grant? Other government websites may be more suitable for personal needsstudent loanssmall business assistance, or other business opportunities such as government contracting. The website Government Benefits, Grants, and Financial Aid may also be of help.
  2. If eligible, search for programs at Assistance Listings. Includes grants, loans, business and nonfinancial help.
  3. Contact federal office given in each Assistance Listing program description.
  4. Go to federal websites given in each Assistance Listing program description for more information and for state administering agencies responsible for managing these programs.
  5. Check current federal grants opportunities at Grants.gov, obtain a Dun and Bradstreet (DUNS) number, register with System for Award Management (SAM), and apply online (links and instructions given at the website). Additional notices appear at FedConnect.
  6. Search foundations for project funding: use the Foundation Center website or Foundation Information Network resources in libraries to identify national, state, and community foundations.
  7. Learn how to write grant proposals: Take the free online Foundation Center Proposal Writing Short Course, or see other tips and sample proposals at Grantspace’s How Do I Write a Grant Proposal?

Key Federal Funding Sources


Assistance Listings at SAM.gov   (General Services Administration)
Official descriptions of more than 2,200 federal assistance programs (including grants, loans, and other financial and nonfinancial assistance) can be found on SAM.gov. The website, produced by the General Services Administration (GSA) and it houses federal assistance listings previously found on the now-retired Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA). Each federal assistance program has a corresponding CFDA program number; these CFDA numbers are still used as numerical program identifiers. Descriptions are updated by departments and agencies, and they cover authorizing legislation, objectives, and eligibility and compliance requirements.. For current notices of funding availability, see Grants.gov or FedConnect.

Grants.gov  (via Dept. of Health and Human Services)
Federal grants website that allows eligible grantseekers (see Who is eligible for a Grant?) to find and apply for current competitive grant opportunities from ALL federal agencies. Grantseekers can check on notices of funding availability (NOFAs) posted in the last 7 days; access RSS feeds of grant opportunities; and apply for federal grants through a unified process by downloading the application and submitting online. The website guides grantseekers in obtaining a Dun and Bradstreet (DUNS) number, registering with System for Award Management (SAM), and registering with Grants.gov to apply and to track applications. See also website FedConnect for additional grants and contracts opportunities.

State Single Points of Contact  (Office of Management and Budget)
Under Executive Order 12372, some states require federal grants applicants to submit a copy of their application for state government level review and comment. The state offices listed here coordinate federal financial assistance and may direct federal development. For help in identifying state-level grants, other state government agencies websites may be found at State and Local Agencies.

Related Federal Resources


A-Z Index of U.S. Department and Agencies  (General Services Administration)
To better develop a grant proposal, search a department or agency's Home Page to learn more about its programs and objectives. The site USA.gov also links to Government Benefits, Grants and Loans.

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Funding (Department of Energy)
Grants are EERE's primary funding vehicle for businesses, industries, universities and others. Most EERE grants are awarded on merit on a competitive basis. See also EERE Financial Opportunities and listings on Grants.gov or FedConnect. For state-by-state information on state, local. utility, and federal incentives that promote renewable energy and energy efficiency, search DSIRE (Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency). 

DHS Financial Assistance  (Department of Homeland Security)
Most Homeland Security non-disaster grant programs are designated for state and local governments and specific entities such as colleges, etc. Unsolicited applications from individuals are generally not accepted. Includes Urban Area Security Initiative, Citizens Corps, Medical Response System, Operation Stonegarden (border security), Infrastructure Protection. Contact homeland security State Offices. Programs for firefighters may be found at Assistance to Firefighters.

USA.gov for Businesses and Nonprofits  (GSA)
Includes contracting with the federal government, international trade and exporting, and small business. See also financial assistance links at the Small Business Administration website.

Federal Contract Opportunities  (GSA)
Official website posting business, contracting, and procurement opportunities with the federal government. Search options include an advanced search form for more targeted filtering of current opportunities.

Student Aid on the Web (Department of Education)
Financial assistance for education beyond high school is generally "needs-based" and often includes loans and work-study, in addition to some grants. College and university applications, websites, and brochures usually include financial aid information for prospective and incoming students.

https://www.benefits.gov/  (via Department of Labor)
Government grants are not direct assistance to individuals, but fund state and local programs providing help to those in need. This online screening site can be used to identify state and local government benefits and how to apply. Covers direct payments, loans, insurance, training, or other services.

FTC Consumer Alert  (Federal Trade Commission)
The FTC warns consumers to beware of paying "processing fees" for information that is available free to the public. Ads claiming federal grants are available for home repairs, home business, unpaid bills, or other personal expenses are often a scam.

OMB Grants Management Web Site   (Office of Management and Budget)
OMB establishes government-wide grants management policies and guidelines through circulars and common rules.  OMB Circulars  are cited in beta.SAM.gov Assistance Listing program descriptions and may be printed out full text.

Private and Corporate Funding Sources


Candid Grants Space
Gateway to information about private funding sources, the grantseeking process, guidelines on writing a grant proposal, addresses of state libraries with grants reference collections, and links to other useful Internet websites. Candid maintains a comprehensive Foundation Directory Online database on foundations; produces print and electronic directories and guides; conducts research and publishes studies in the field; and offers a variety of training and educational seminars.

Grants Resources by State  (Grantsmanship Center)
Click on state map to find links to information about a state's foundations, community foundations, corporate giving programs and the state's home page.

Community Foundations There are more than 750 community foundations in the U.S., which are grantmaking public charities dedicated to improving the lives of people in a defined local geographic area. The Council on Foundations has a listing of community foundations by state.

Also see these Congressional Research Service reports available to the public:



Congressionally Directed Spending

Congressionally Directed Spending (CDS), included in the federal appropriations and budgeting process, provides a unique opportunity to invest in critical community projects across Rhode Island. While CDS projects continue to be included in the federal budget, Senator Whitehouse invites applications for well-planned, ambitious, creative, and impactful projects that will improve the lives of Rhode Islanders. Applications for Fiscal Year 2024 are now closed.  Details on the Fiscal Year 2025 application period are TBD.

Any CDS request that Senator Whitehouse submits to the Appropriations Committee must comply with Senate Rule XLIV.

Only projects based in Rhode Island and submitted by Rhode Island applicants will be considered.  Eligible applicants include units of local and state government, nonprofit organizations and institutions of higher education.  For-profit entities are not eligible to receive Congressionally Directed Spending.  

Please note all CDS requests selected for submission will be made public to ensure transparency and accountability. 

Submission of requests does not constitute a binding commitment on any party nor a guarantee that any organization will be awarded funding from any federal agency through this process.  Furthermore, the submission, review, and approval of applications for federal funding will be carried out consistent with federal agency rules and regulations.

About the Application Process

For planning purposes, potential applicants are welcome to view Senator Whitehouse’s Fiscal Year 2024 application.  If you have questions regarding the process or are looking for additional guidance, please reach out to CDS@whitehouse.senate.gov to set up a meeting with staff.

Each application should focus on one program or project that requests funding from one account.  A single project cannot request funding from multiple accounts.  If an applicant wants to request funding for multiple programs or projects, they should submit a separate application for each.

What does a strong application look like?

Strong applications will showcase how the proposed program or project:

  • meets the technical requirements of the chosen subcommittee (more details below);
  • tackles a clear need or problem in Rhode Island;
  • will have concrete, measurable impact on individuals and/or communities in Rhode Island;
  • has a clear and well-justified budget and timeline for planning, development, and implementation;
  • will be overseen by an organization that has the staff and resources to maximize success.

The Senate and House Appropriations Committees consider funding requests through 9 separate Subcommittees.  Each subcommittee awards funding from specific accounts, distributed by agencies and offices across the federal government.  Each account carries its own unique goals, objectives, and criteria for qualification.  More information about these Subcommittees and accounts is below.  CDS requests are capped at 1 percent of the total of the appropriations bill, and projects will have to be agreed upon between the House and the Senate before being included in a final bill.

Be Targeted: The more targeted a CDS request is, the better.  The application includes specific questions that address each of the above points.  When preparing your answers, please be sure to provide all the requested information and be concise.  You do not need to provide additional information that is not requested in the question.

Be Thorough: Applicants should ensure they start an application in the online portal with plenty of time to prepare, revise, and submit a complete proposal.

Be Fiscally Responsible: CDS requests are capped at 1 percent of the appropriations bill.  This means that, as appropriators consider CDS requests, they have to make tough decisions between competing priorities.  Enacting a several million-dollar CDS item comes at the cost of several smaller CDS requests that could impact more people or a larger number of geographic areas.

Examples:  Please find a list of CDS requests that were selected for inclusion in the final FY23 omnibus bill and will receive funding here.

Eligible Accounts

A specific list of accounts under which CDS requests were supported in Fiscal Years is available here.  This list of eligible accounts is subject to change pending instructions for the Fiscal Year 2025 appropriations process.

Fiscal Year 2024 Disclosure

Linked below are the Rhode Island projects for the Fiscal Year 2024 appropriations cycle that my office has requested of the Appropriations Committee.  They are listed by their relevant subcommittee jurisdiction, and the project order in each list reflects no particular prioritization. Request amounts are reflected in thousands ($000).

  • Requests to the Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development can be found here. 
  • Requests to the Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government can be found here.
  • Requests to the Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies can be found here.
  • Requests to the Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies can be found here.
  • Requests to the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies can be found here.
  • Requests to the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies can be found here.
  • Requests to the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies here.