Free Grants for Seniors

By Graham Beckett

A myriad of federal grants is available to individuals 65 and older. Various federal agencies provide grants that offer financial assistance to older Americans. Grant writing requires some writing and research but is a worthwhile endeavor.

Organizations That Give Grants

The federal government has nearly 1,000 grants specifically tailored to the needs of seniors. Moreover, large corporations and charities offer funding for "worthwhile activities." According to a 2008 study by the Foundation Center, nearly 72,000 foundations provide more than $40 billion in grants. Grants can either be for a specific cause (the federal government often restricts the use) or for any purpose.

Federal Grants

Federal grants rarely are made to an individual. Instead they are made to agencies and organizations of which seniors are members or to which they have unfettered access. Federal grants often address issues such as seniors' transportation needs when public transportation is deficient, aiding seniors with limited incomes who volunteer with special-needs children, affordable rental housing, grants for housing repair for low-income seniors and home-delivered meals.

Foundation Grants

A multitude of foundations provides grants. The top five foundation grants for senior citizens are the John A. Hartford Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, the California Endowment and the Retirement Research Foundation.

But you must be wary when applying for grants. Some organizations prey on senior citizens and require exorbitant fees to apply for a grant. They often provide unreasonable claims that guarantee they will be able to provide the grant writer with a federal or foundational grant. You should view such claims with suspicion.

Applying for a Grant

There are no restrictions on who can apply for a grant, though generally it is a non-profit, government organization, school or small business that does so. Every grant requires a written proposal drafted by the agency or foundation requesting financial assistance. Those seeking a grant should research the grant and its purpose, provide justified reasons for seeking it and show that there is a plan to produce results if given a grant.

Online Scams

Various online resources claim they will find and write grants for you for a fee of $50 to $100. While these places often guarantee getting you grant money, more often than not their resources are outdated or inaccurate, they fail to complete your application or do not provide refunds.

However, there are websites that can assist with grant writing that do provide money-back guarantees. These organizations do not make unreasonable claims, like absolute guarantees of obtaining grants for you. Also, you should avoid organizations that claim there is a "fee" to apply for a federal grant. Applying for the grant is free, but the service of assisting you with the application process and grant writing can include a reasonable service charge.

About the Author

Graham Beckett is an attorney in Los Angeles who has practiced in California since 2006, providing thoughtful analysis and writing on various legal issues. Additionally, he is an avid surfer, runner, and comedy writer, writing and performing in various sketch shows throughout Los Angeles.