States provide a myriad of grants. Nearly every state department has a grant program. Grants are available for nonprofit and for-profit entities. Even individuals are eligible applicants for some state grants.
Typically, a state department will post a Request for Proposal (RFP) detailing requirements to apply for each grant program. Particulars such as submission dates, narrative components of the proposal, and average grant award are included in the RFP. The exact process for submitting the proposal will be outlined. Any deviation from this can result in your proposal being denied or deemed nonresponsive to the RFP requirements.
The most important part of responding to RFPs is following instructions. Thoroughly read the RFP multiple times so you fully understand what is required for approval. Once you know this, you can prepare your best response.
You may need to partner with another organization to provide the level of services required in the RFP. To make sure each party has a clear understanding of roles and responsibilities related to the grant, it is recommended you enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The MOU should be effective only if the grant is awarded. Most importantly, how the grant funds will be used should be clearly defined in the MOU. This will prevent problems in the future between the partnering organizations. Although you are the lead applicant, the state can still deny the request because they disapprove of your partner.
Should you have questions, and the grant program permits, you can contact a grant officer with questions pertaining to partners or other aspects of the RFP. Some state government grants commence a cone of silence once an RFP is published. This means that no applicants are to have direct contact with grant program staff. This is to prevent undue influence upon state employees and the grant award process.
All RFPs will allow questions to be asked from applicants; the issue is how the questions will be asked. If there is a cone of silence, questions must be submitted electronically to the assigned grant officer by a specified date. After this time, the grant officer will compile all of the questions and answer each one. All questions and answers will be posted for public review. This provides a level playing field for applicants. If a letter of intent was required from applicants prior to the question submission date, an email of questions and answers will also be transmitted to applicants who provided email addresses.
State government grants are available for a myriad of purposes from providing direct services for underserved populations to developing state-of-the-art technologies for high-demand industries. The key is learning about state grant opportunities when they become available. Most states post RFP notices on their websites and allow interested parties to sign up for email alerts.