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Federal government grants are grants of funds issued by the United States government. Typically, grants are issued to organizations and agencies, because individuals may lack the resources to successfully prepare a grant application and fulfill the obligations which come with government grants. However, individuals can benefit directly from federal government grants by taking advantage of the services provided by organizations which receive government funds.
While a grant may seem like free money, federal government grants come with a number of caveats. The grant application must be filled out in a very specific way, and the application must include a detailed discussion of the amount of funds needed, how they will be used, and which measures will be put in place for oversight and to determine how effectively the grant was used. If a grant is given, the recipient has to submit to auditing and oversight from the government, and any unused funds will need to be returned to the United States Treasury.
Cities, towns, and other local governments often apply for federal government grants for projects like road improvement and other community development programs. Civic organizations can also get grants for everything from promoting a community to running charitable programs such as soup kitchens. Many institutions such as hospitals and schools also benefit from federal government grants, using the money to provide services which might not otherwise be affordable.
Once an organization receives federal government grant money, it may be required to adhere to certain government anti-discrimination laws, as it has transitioned from a private to partially public organization. For example, if a medical clinic accepts federal grant money, it will not be allowed to refuse clients on the basis of race or creed. If someone can prove that these laws were violated, the organization will be obligated to return the money, and it can face legal penalties.
In general, if an activity will benefit a community or the American people as a whole, the government will probably agree to offer a grant, as long as the application is filled out properly and the recipient demonstrates due diligence. With federal government grants in hand, people may also be able to obtain matching funds from local governments or private organizations.
Grants.gov is an excellent resource for information about available federal government grants. Users can search the database of grants, and find out which organizations are eligible and how to apply. Individuals seeking government assistance may want to be aware that most organizations hire a person or team which deals only with government grant applications and processing, demonstrating how complex and involved the process can be.