Women are eligible for a variety of government grants. These grants are available at all levels of government. The purpose of government grants for women varies depending upon the specific grant program. Finding government grants that women are eligible for can be challenging.
To locate federal government grants, women should research available grant opportunities through Grants.gov, the grant management portal maintained by the government. You can search by topic, federal department, or eligible entity. Individuals are not eligible to apply for all federal grants. Women can only apply to those open to individuals.
Federal grant opportunities for women are likely to be in the areas of education and research. These grants provide funding support for women to pursue postgraduate education in particular fields of study or to conduct institutional-supported research in areas identified by the government to be of importance. Many of the educational opportunities are available through the U.S. Department of Education while the majority of research grants are awarded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).
Women who own small businesses may be eligible to receive grants through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. These programs are offered by every federal department and agency. Women business owners are encouraged to apply, particularly in underrepresented fields such as energy and defense. Some programs may have a portion of funds designated for women business owners.
Government grants for women have the same implementation requirements as other federal grants. Women must abide by the grant agreement and meet all reporting deadlines. You will be required to provide expenditure reports to the granting agency as outlined in your grant award. Federal employees will provide ongoing guidance to you during the implementation phase of your grant. If you have a research grant, they will be minimally involved beyond routine grants administration activities.
State and local governments also have grant opportunities for women. These focus on business start-up or expansion activities for women business owners. State and local governments rarely fund independent research projects. They may, at times, commission research on a particular community issue but will likely contract with a university or established research organization.
Women who receive government grants do not have to pay them back as long as they meet the conditions of the award. Grants provide opportunities for women that help them break barriers in various industries. Whether through higher education or opportunities to test innovative ideas, government grants for women can level the playing field.