When searching for grants on the internet, I have no doubt that you have encountered the term block grants. In the world of grants, you’ll often run into terms like this one and they can be somewhat confusing. Having a better understanding of the types of grants that exist out there will help you in your journey for funding. Knowing what you can and cannot apply for will save you time and hopefully get you on the right track towards finding what you are after. So what is a block grant? Is this something you can apply for? How exactly can it help you?
Simply put, block grants are a mechanism by which the federal government distributes large amounts of money to the states. Funds are earmarked to provide certain types of programs. But unlike some other federal grants, block grants do so with very few restrictions. This allows each individual state to put the money to work in the best way possible in each local area. What may work in California may not produce similar results in New York. So this flexibility allows each state to develop unique programs to address nationwide issues.
The first block grant was created in 1966 and by 2001 there were over 700. A tremendous amount of money is provided by the federal government through these grants. And in most cases, this funding translates to programs that help out real people. Often block grants are targeted at helping low-income and moderate-income individuals and families. Here are a few examples.
Community Development Block Grant
The CDBG funds housing programs and other types of community development projects. Local programs funded by the CDBG often offer incentives for home buyers. They provide money for down payments on property in certain areas. They fund redevelopment and revitalization efforts of run down neighborhoods. The money is never used the same way, but in all cases 70% of this funding must be used to help low-income and moderate-income residents.
Community Services Block Grant
The CSBG funds programs that fight poverty in various ways. Services funded include education, emergency response, employment, health and housing. This grant provides money that helps the homeless, low-income families and the elderly. Much of it finds its way to community action agencies that work one on one with impoverished residents.
Social Services Block Grant
The SSBG funds social service programs. These include adoption services, employment support, low-cost daycare, foster programs, meals on wheels and substance abuse counseling. Programs funded by this grant also support the disabled and provide health related services.
If you have found a block grant that you think provides funding to something that will help you, do not call Washington. Regardless of what you have seen on the internet, do not visit Grants.gov to apply. Neither of these methods will provide you with a grant. Instead, take a hard look at what this funding is doing in your local area. Contact your state office that is receiving the block grant you have identified and find out what programs are being funded in your area by the grant. Contact your city and see what block grants are being put to work where you live. In most cases, you will turn up local programs where there is in fact block grant money that you can apply for.
Many government grants provide assistance through entitlement programs. Block grants and other large amounts of government money are issued to help people just like you in your state. One thing you should definitely do to find what help is available to you and see if you are eligible to apply for it is visit Benefits.gov. Here the government provides one web portal for many types of assistance programs. In this one place, you can quickly identify all the entitlement programs being offered in your state and find information on where to apply for help. Click on your state to explore what is being offered to you locally.
Benefit programs include plenty of things you have most likely heard of like food stamps and unemployment insurance. But you may also find programs being offered that you didn’t know exist. Every state has a program that helps low-income residents pay their utility bills and even make upgrades to their homes to save on energy costs. There is also a long list of loan repayment programs that can pay down your student debt depending on what line of work you are pursuing. In each case, these listings will contain the correct contact information and put you on the right path for applying for assistance.