Federal Grants for Small Business: SCORE with the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance

Posted: November 13, 2010 in Grants, Small Business
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The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) is a one-stop shop for federal grants, loans and other types of assistance. The site provides not only financial assistance information for businesses or nonprofits, but includes individuals seeking assistance as well.

The CFDA has extremely user-friendly features. Users can search using basic keywords or conduct more advanced searches. If a business is specifically seeking assistance to small businesses seeking grants, for example, “project grants”, “direct payments for specified use” and “direct payments with unrestricted use” can be selected.

The CFDA provides a glossary of industry terms and provides grant proposal writing advice. Among advice is the caveat to follow instructions. This goes without saying for any project involving the federal government. One quick way to weed down the piles of applications is to dislodge applicants who can’t follow instructions. Inability to comply with directions is a sure sign in any venture–personal or business, that if you can’t follow the rules when trying to get in the door, you might need extra hand holding throughout your stay. A waste of precious time. The government is infamous for paperwork and bureaucracy, so any business on the streamlined application bandwagon is  welcomed with open arms.

The CFDA provides eligibility criteria along with links concerning grants. The grants.gov website is another grants portal. It also features basic and advanced search capabilities. Some agencies with grant announcements require submission of applications via grants.gov. Users must register, which is free.

In order to receive any federal award, whether a contract or a grant, a business must be have a Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) number. This number is a Data Universal Number System (DUNS) number that links an organization to specific information. The DUNS number profiles a business, from its founding year, to its location, staff members, and financial background, including its financial health such as credit history.

To conduct business with the federal government, a business must also be registered with the Central Contractor Registration (CCR) site. Lack of registration can result in disqualification for noncompliance with grant competition requirements. The CCR registration is linked to contractor payment information. Consequently, this information must be kept current during the conduct of an award. If not, it can suspend payment.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) is an invaluable resource for small businesses. The SBA provides free information, guides, online training, and a network of experts and organization. The SBA also archives annual Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Program information. The program objectives are to partner with small businesses around the nation to ensure the federal government remains innovative. Many federal agencies have an SBIR/STTR program. Programs can be discovered via CFDA, grants.gov or by contacting the agencies directly. The Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) is an invaluable SBA expert network. The Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) offers assistance to business owners and prospective business owners. A national SBDC locator link is online.


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