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What is a Grant? -- A Grant Crash Course

Company receiving grant from a bank

What is a Grant?

Well, it’s not just something awarded to students for financial aid, which is what a lot of people tend to think. While correct, a grant can be used for more than just education. Grants are useful tools for people in all walks of life, from students to business owners. Simply put, a grant is financial aid that comes from a government agency or private organization. A grant can fund public services, economic benefit, and the welfare of the general public.
The process of finding, choosing, and receiving the right grant for you is kind of like opening a bakery: it’s a lot of hard work, but the right equipment (or grant) can make things easier. A grant is merely the means by which you can achieve great things.

How do I receive a grant?

Grants can be awarded for a number of reasons, whether it be for innovating research, academic excellence, or one’s expertise in a given area. While there are some exceptions, as we’ll touch on later, in most cases, you need to apply for a grant in order to (hopefully) receive it.

You don’t have to pay back personal grants, business grants, and financial aid grants. They are given out to be used at the grantee’s discretion for the purpose of financially boosting their project, business, research, or pursuit of education.

Types of Grants

Federal grants are the most popular kinds of grants because they serve a broad audience, from students to business owners to private researchers. Local and state governments also gives out grants, albeit less of them, to various community programs and other smaller projects. If you’d like to dive a little deeper into your grant research, The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance lists numerous funding programs that you might find worthwhile.

There are also non-government grants awarded to people or businesses by corporations and interest groups who reflect the grantee’s core values. You don’t always need to apply for these grants, as interest groups often seek out people who they feel will add value to their company. Universities, for example, often give out scholarships to promising students - either for their athletic or academic prowess.

The Streisand Foundation and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are two excellent examples of private, nonprofit organizations. The former focuses on environmental issues, civil and women’s rights, and helping disadvantaged children around the world; the latter focuses on funding global development, education, and health.