Saturday, June 5, 2010

Can I Get a Grant For That?

Okay, so here's my pet peeve: I get a desperate call/email from someone saying they are in dire circumstances - family emergency, domestic violence, single parent - and they want to receive a grant for assistance.
Well, I ask, do you have a 501 c 3 status?
What's that? They ask.
So I explain.
Uh, no, they respond.
Does this scenario sound familiar? It's difficult to explain that grants are available only to nonprofits. Even organizations have to get their act together before they can get grants from funders or government agencies. So what makes these people think they can get a grant for food, clothing or a car?

In fact there is a great article on Comsumer Affairs about the scams out there promising people "free grants" for everything under the sun. But people don't seem to learn, so one day when I finally got tired of saying the same thing over and over, I figured maybe I can get some documentation that I could post on my website and email as a standard response when I get these inquiries. But imagine my surprise when I found that actually, in some situations, individuals are eligible for grants. WHAT? Really? Yes, Really! So I am mentioning some of these grant programs below in case anyone is interested... or gets calls and emails from interested parties.

Agriculture (e.g. grants to farmers and ranchers)
Humanities (scholars, students, professors and more)
Arts (photographers, painters, artists)
Social Sciences (economists, scholars, students and much more)
Community Service (youth, philanthropists and volunteers)
Study/travel abroad (students, professors, scholars)

Assistance is mainly available to specific populations such as disabled, minorities, veterans and women. And I have to warn hopefuls that very few - if any - grants are available just because you are "deserving". A large number of grants are in the form of scholarships, fellowships, awards for achievement, or even loans - meaning that you have to earn what you get, and many times you have to pay it back as well. Obviously a lot more research should be done before getting your hopes high, but a good place to start is Michigan State University Libraries compilation at

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