Grants are cash gifts that help recipients pay for any number of expenses, from starting a business to funding an art project or avoiding foreclosure. In addition to the temporary or occasional grants that independent nonprofit agencies and private businesses offer, the federal government is a major source of ongoing grants that provide money to pay for personal necessities.
One of the basic needs that everyone shares is access to safe, affordable housing. The federal government administers a number of housing grants, often through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). For example, the Supportive Housing for the Elderly grant has delivered more than $370 million to help elderly individuals find housing. Another HUD grant, known as Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS, is available to low-income individuals suffering from HIV or AIDS.
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF, grants are general purpose grants that individual states or tribal governments administer to residents using money from federal funding. The TANF program's mission is to help families achieve self-sufficiency. States spend some of the money they receive on educational and job training programs, and deliver additional funds directly to individuals. For example, families can receive TANF funds to help cover the cost of caring for a child in the home.
Government food grants help families and individuals get the nutrition they need for good general health. Individual states administer food stamp programs, which allow recipients to purchase approved food items up to their grant limits. Federal grants from the National Institutes of Health (known as Improving Diet and Physical Activity Assessment grants) pay to help individuals make healthy dietary choices and educate themselves about disease prevention through healthy eating.
The process of applying for an individual grant is often the same as applying for an institutional grant. In fact, in the case of certain federal grants, individuals and institutions such as schools and local governments compete for the same grants, though individuals are likely to receive grants in smaller amounts to pay for personal necessities. Applications generally require financial information to demonstrate need, as well as general contact information. Grant applications also ask for information on how you plan to use the grant money; when a grant opportunity includes the stipulation that it is for personal necessities, your planned use should stick to this intention to improve your chances of receiving the grant.