The Grants.gov database provides access to federal grants on a governmentwide basis. It is beyond the scope of this article to begin to list the numerous nongovernment foundations that offer grants to the disabled, so this article will focus on the comprehensive Grants.gov free-government grants database. If you do find a grant that suits your needs, and for which you meet the requirements, you will need to register on the Grants.gov Web site. Before registering, see the sections that follow to learn search techniques delivering the widest range of results---or the narrowest---depending on your interests.
Performing a Basic Search
In the left navigation pane of the main page, under the Find Grant Opportunities heading, click on the Basic Search link. When the page displays, enter a keyword (disabled, disability, handicapped, etc.) into the top-entry field. This is the broadest way to search. The FON field beneath it can be used if you know the grant's Funding Opportunity Number (FON). If you think you know part of the FON, you can perform a wildcard search by entering the characters you do know preceded or followed by an asterisk. This search technique can be used in the third field down if you know part of the offering agency's Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) number. Place any known CFDA data in that search field, using an asterisk if necessary. Note that if you have entered data in more than one of the search fields, you will get only the results that contain all of the search elements entered. When ready, click Start Search. Do not be discouraged if few results display. Use the Clear Search button and change keywords or other-known data and try again. Different strategies can produce surprisingly varying results.
Performing a Browse-by-Category Search
In the left-navigation pane of the main page, under the Find Grant Opportunities heading, click on the Browse by Category link. When the page displays, you will have access to a complete list of grant opportunities. You can click on any linked category in this list or browse the list to gather ideas for keyword searching. After clicking on a linked category, a page will display listing the grants for that category. Again, you can use this to build your keyword vocabulary when searching.
Performing a Browse by Agency Search
In the left navigation pane of the main page, under the Find Grant Opportunities heading, click on the Browse by Agency link. This search option uses the same format as Browse by Category.
Performing an Advanced Search
In the left navigation pane of the main page, under the Find Grant Opportunities heading, click on the Advanced Search link. Unless you are doing research for historical purposes, searching Closed Opportunities and/or Archived Opportunities will not be of much value. Using the Advanced Search option involves leveraging the database's ability to provide the best combinations of gathered and sorted data it can collect from your input. If you want to select more than one line item from any grouped list, click the line item while holding down the Control key and continue holding it down until all desired line items are selected. This search option works best if you want to experiment, and there are many ways to experiment! If you are looking for opportunities that may be surprise finds in areas you had not considered, when using the Advance Search feature in multiple, creative search strategies, you will get the most-varied results possible.
Clicking on the URL found in the Grants.gov resource below will take you to the main page of Grants.gov. You will need to go to the Get Registered section found under the For Applicants heading in order to learn more about the registration process for the grant for which you want to apply.
Deb Lindstrom has 20-plus years experience writing tech manuals, Humane Society pieces, business certificates, essays and manuscripts, and is now a freelance writer for eHow and other publications. She holds a B.S., magna cum laude, holds an M.L.I.S. degree, and almost has her M.S.I.T. and M.P.W. degrees.