Individual and organizations, including businesses, are eligible for a variety of technology grants. Grants are available from governments, foundations, and other organizations, both for-profit and nonprofit. How the technology can be used depends upon the specific grant program.
Individuals with disabilities can apply for technology grants that cover the cost of assistive devices that help with daily activities. Assistive technology grants are available from foundations and several corporate giving programs. Grantors may require a nonprofit organization submit the grant request on behalf of the individual. If this occurs, it is likely the funder is prohibited from awarding grants to individuals. They can still provide assistance by awarding the grant to a nonprofit who serves as the fiscal sponsor for the individual.
Nonprofit organizations can apply for various technology grants from programs administered by the federal government. The U.S. Department of Education offers several grant opportunities that focus on using technology to improve overall classroom results or to assist students with disabilities mainstream into traditional classrooms. These grants require the applicant to incorporate evidence-based best practices into the program design. The Department is particularly interested in new approaches that can be replicated.
Foundations also provide technology grants to nonprofit organizations. Most do not fund grant requests to upgrade hardware and software. These are considered routine expenses that the nonprofits should include their organizational budgets. Foundations are more likely to fund new technologies or new uses of old technology that directly support the mission of the nonprofit.
Businesses interested in obtaining technology grants have a myriad of sources to consider. At the federal level, the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs offer multi-phase grants that focus on developing new technologies. Businesses receive grants to research and develop technologies that address specific topics of interest presented by federal agencies and departments.
Additional federal sources of technology grants are the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST). Both offer technology grants that individuals, nonprofits, and businesses can apply for. The vast majority are not discretionary grants. Rather, they are tied to specific research or technology topics pre-established by the agencies. Applicants are required to address the topics in their project design to be considered eligible for the technology grants.
States typically have multiple technology grant programs that businesses and nonprofit organizations can apply to for funds. Like the federal grants, they are not discretionary grant programs but require applicants to focus on a particular technology or use of technology to qualify for funds.