Getting grants to help provide aid to homeless children and families takes a bit of work, but the results can be worthwhile. After discovering available funding opportunities, you'll have to make sure you've registered with the appropriate federal and state agencies. You'll also need to be diligent in demonstrating your expertise on the application, and include all of the required information.
Locate and Register
Most grants are allocated through federal government funds, at either the national level or through state agencies. For example, the Department of Health and Human Services offers several types of grants designed to benefit homeless children and families. To apply for one, you'll first have to register with:
- The Data Universal Numbering System: Commonly abbreviated as D-U-N-S, this provides you with an identification number that you'll need to participate in federal electronic commerce. It's also used by many commercial entities as well. Allow four weeks to get your D-U-N-S number.
- The System for Award Management: SAM registration is required to procure federal grants and contracts. It integrates your operation into the federal system.
- Grants.gov: This shows you what grants are available and how you can apply for them. You'll need to complete your D-U-N-S and SAM registration before taking this step. Once you're registered here, you'll be able to search for grant opportunities by agency, eligibility and category.
While these specific registration requirements are for the federal space, most states require similar information. Both states and private foundations will detail exactly what grants are available and which geographic area they are designed to serve. Some require you to be approved by the state first, before you can apply.
The Application Process
Read the Requirements
Grants usually have very specific requirements, so the first step in the application process is to make sure you can check all the necessary boxes. Note any eligibility requirements that may disqualify your organization, and the expertise and experience required. You'll have to show you can handle not only the implementation of the project or initiative supported by the grant, but also the ability to handle the reporting requirements to document how you spend the funds and whether they have been distributed effectively.
Write the Application
Most grant applications will tell you exactly what sections you need to include, and the amount of space you have to work with. They'll also tell you how the application will be scored -- in other words, what specific parts carry more weight in making the decision, You'll have to detail your experience specifically helping homeless families and children, and how you'll meet the exact requirements of the grant.
When you fill it out, be concise and precise. If you have half a page to work with, don't attach 10 extra pages that go into excruciating detail about everything you've ever done. Specific activities that led to measurable outcomes can be convincing evidence that you've been successful at this before. Evidence that you have direct experience at solving the particular problem that this grant is designed to deal with also is helpful. Check everything before you send in the document -- your submission is usually final.
You'll often be able to submit online, but do so before the deadline. Network or computer problems will not be accepted as an excuse for a late submission.