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Many federal programs exist to assist states, territories, and localities with all-hazard disaster preparedness. Administered by various departments and agencies, some are authorized specifically for this purpose, while others are for general assistance programs that may be used for preparedness related activities. The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA)Publication and database produced by the General Services Administration that lists the domestic assistance programs of all federal agencies and gives information about a program's authorization, fiscal details, accomplishments, regulations, guidelines, eligibility requirements, information contacts, and application and award process. classifies federal assistanceThe transfer of money, property, services, or anything of value, the principal purpose of which is to accomplish a public purpose of support or stimulation authorized by federal statute. into 15 categories including grantsAn award of financial assistance, the principle purpose of which is to transfer a thing of value from a federal agency to a recipient to carry out a public purpose of support or stimulation authorized by a law of the United States (see 31 U.S.C 6101 (3)).. Grants.govThe U.S. Congress enacted legislation which led to the creation of, a source for finding and applying for, all discretionary grant opportunities from all federal agencies. It is designed to make grants research, application processing and management easier and more efficient. makes researching and applying for more than 1,000 different grant programs, representing more than $500 billion in annual grants, available to applicants all in one place. defines three types of grants: discretionary, earmark, and mandatory. This tutorial focuses on discretionary grant applications, or investment justifications, and mandatory grant money already awarded to the state.

Types of Grants
Discretionary Grant A grant (or cooperative agreement) for which the federal awarding agency generally may select the recipient from among all eligible recipients, may decide to make or not make an award based on the programmatic, technical, or scientific content of an application, and can decide the amount of funding to be awarded.
Earmark Grant A grant that is appropriated by Congress prior to a peer review. The term "earmark" is a reference to the Congressional Record where the awards are written into the legislation specifically with the grant applicant's name, activity, and dollar amounts.
Mandatory Grant A grant (or cooperative agreement) awarded under a program where the authorizing statute requires the head of the agency or designee to make an award to each eligible entity under the conditions, and in the amount (or based on the formula), specified in the statute.
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The CFDA and are two excellent resources for locating grant funding opportunities. The CFDA provides a full listing of all federal programs available to state and local governments (including the District of Columbia); federally-recognized Indian tribal governments; territories (and possessions) of the United States; domestic public, quasi-public, and private for-profit and nonprofit organizations and institutions; specialized groups; and individuals. Click here to link directly to the Overview page. Established as part of President George W. Bush's 2002 Fiscal Year Management Agenda to improve government services to the public, is the site on which to find and apply for federal grants available from 26 federal departments and agencies. Click here to link directly to the tutorial "Finding Grant Opportunities on" Additionally, some agencies forecast future grant opportunities on their websites, which allows additional reviewing and planning time. For example, the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has developed a grant forecast website for this purpose.

The information available on these websites provides a good summary for screening the grant programs for applicability. Keep an open-mind when reviewing this information and consider whether a revision to your approach will still meet your needs and fit within the scope of the grant. Many disaster preparedness grants have a deliberately broad scope. Even if what you are hoping to use the money for is not explicitly spelled out, you still may be able to provide a convincing justification for how your plan will support the overall grant priorities.

Also, for many preparedness grant programs, you need to coordinate with a designated state representative for the grant program funding you wish to pursue. For example, there are two points of contact in each state that are important when pursuing Department of Homeland Security (DHS)/Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funding. They are the State Administrative Agency and the State Homeland Security Advisor/Contact.

  • The governor of each state has appointed a Homeland Security Advisor (HSA) or contact. This contact is the primary point of contact for homeland security actions within each state. The current listing of state HSAs or contacts is available via the DHS website.
  • The governor of each state has also designated a State Administrative Agency (SAA) to apply for and administer funds under the Homeland Security Grant Program (HSGP). The SAA is the only agency eligible to apply for HSGP funds and is responsible for obligating HSGP funds to local units of government and other designated recipients. The current listing of SAAs is available via the FEMA website.

HHS programs vary by agency but the State Health Department may serve as the interface for fund disbursement. A current listing of state and local health departments is available on the American Public Health Association (APHA) website.

Flash Content "A challenge we commonly see with food, agricultural, and animal issues is that funding is mixed with other agencies, such as law enforcement agencies, emergency responder agencies, and fire response agencies, and these agencies may be more used to the grant writing process. They've been more involved with this process and their priorities seem to float to the surface a little easier. You're somewhat in competition when working with these other, more traditional response agencies. The most important step you can take is to get involved in the regional and state level emergency management related steering committees and working groups. These groups will provide an understanding of the state's priorities and the availability of funding."

For additional resources on specific grants or grant-making agencies, please visit the Other Resources page.

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