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Got Grants?

By Emily Becher, Research Associate

Finding funding for ongoing programmatic needs and new work is both a challenge and an opportunity. What's more, finding funding is a necessity, whatever the current financial "climate" might be. Financial security for programs can go through cycles, with times that programs seem sustainably supported and other times when funding for programs seem more precarious.

Grants are a significant source of funding in Family Development, and learning how to identify and apply for grants is important to our work. Grants can be a mechanism by which we — FD staff and educators — support our existing programming and develop new and innovative ideas. In my role as a research associate, I serve as a resource for finding, developing, and implementing new grant funding opportunities in collaboration with educators.

How to Identify Grant Opportunities

Grant opportunities are typically identified via “Requests for Proposals” (RFPs) that are distributed by an organization. RFPs list the types of projects an organization is interested in funding, the criteria for submitting a successful application, details such as the range of money to be administered through the grant (how much money you can ask for), and deadlines. RFPs are distributed by many types of organizations, including:
An easy way to stay up to date on what grants are available is to sign up for a weekly email alert for RFP releases that match your areas of interest. You can do this through and the Foundation Center RFP Bulletin, as well as through the National Institutes of Health (both the NIH Guide LISTSERV and NIH Extramural Nexus). Some websites also offer email alert services.

Sometimes it is worthwhile to know what kinds of projects a foundation or nonprofit has funded in the past. Then, if you see that the organization has previously funded something in which you're interested, call or write the organization with a description of your potential project. It's a good idea to do this even if an organization does not have an active RFP listed. Choose organizations to contact based on one of the following criteria:
  • Closed RFPs (RFPs where the date for submission has passed) for projects that interest you.
  • The funding sources of projects similar to the one you are interested in funding.
  • The alignment of a particular grant funding institution’s mission with the project you are interested in funding.

Where to Get Help

Remember: You don't have to do all your research, or application work, alone. The University of Minnesota offers guidance on finding funding through the Clinical and Translational Science Institute, the Office of the Vice President for Research, and University libraries, as well as through Extension; follow > Program Resources > Grants. Online workshops about the grant funding process are available both through University libraries and through Extension Professional Development, which offers webinars (sign-in required).

Extension also offers personal assistance in finding and applying for grant funding in the form of Grants Manager Dianne Sivald. She works on the fourth floor of Coffey Hall and is an important person to touch base with as you move a grant forward. She can help guide you through some of the requirements that we must meet as University employees and can answer questions about whether your grant must be submitted to the University's Sponsored Projects Administration.

As you work to develop new sources of funding, please do not hesitate to contact me for support. I am learning as I go and would appreciate the opportunity to learn from the work each and every one of you is doing in the area of grant funding.

I also have questions for you. Where do you look for new potential funding sources? What questions or needs do you have regarding finding new funding opportunities? Are there things that FD's Applied Research and Evaluation team can do to support you better in this area? Feel free to answer in the comments below or email me directly at I look forward to connecting and developing new funding opportunities for our center in partnership with you.

Reviewed and updated on 1/9/2017 by the author.
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