Federal Funding Sources

Many federal government agencies have discretionary grant programs, intended to promote various federal policy objectives.  Most of the applicable agencies for higher education purposes are listed further below. There are three primary research sites for identifying federal grants:

  1. Grants.gov
  2. Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance
  3. Various websites specific to each federal agency.


In addition to the list provided below, a primary source for exploring federal grant opportunities is the website known as Grants.gov. This website simplifies the federal grants process by creating a centralized, online system to find and apply for over 900 grant programs from the 26 federal grant-making agencies. Although Grants.gov is a prominent portal, it is not the only one.  There are other online federal grant application systems that serve specific federal agencies.  A good example is Fastlane, which is designed for grant applications to the National Science Foundation.  Federal grant guidelines will direct you to the online system(s) they use.

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance

Another useful resource for researching federal funding programs is the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance. The Catalog is a government-wide compendium of federal programs, projects, services, and activities that provide assistance or benefits to the American public. It contains financial and nonfinancial assistance programs administered by departments and institutions of the federal government. As the basic reference source of federal programs, the primary purpose of the Catalog is to assist users in identifying programs that meet specific objectives of the potential applicant, and to obtain general information on Federal assistance programs.

Select Federal Departments and Agencies

The following links are for informational purposes only, to give you an idea of the types of funding opportunities available through the federal government.   If you need assistance identifying funding prospects, contact Patricia Doyle '69, CFR Director at ext. 4856. 


Department of Commerce

The Department of Commerce fosters and promotes the nation’s economic development and technological advancement through vigilance in international trade policy, domestic business policy and growth, and promoting economic progress at all levels.  You can click on the Departmental link above or any of the links to select Commerce Department agencies below:

Corporation for National Service (AmeriCorps, Learn & Serve America, Senior Corps)

The Corporation for National and Community Service is the nation’s largest grant-maker supporting service and volunteering. Through Senior Corps, AmeriCorps and Learn and Serve America programs, the Corporation is a catalyst for change and offers every American a chance to contribute through service and volunteering.


Environmental Protection Agency

The mission of the Environmental Protection Agency is to protect human health and the environment. Since 1970, EPA has been working for a cleaner, healthier environment for the American people.

Department of Education

The U.S. Department of Education was created in 1980 by combining offices from several federal agencies. The Department’s mission is to promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access. There are eight offices in the Education Department that are responsible for the administration of discretionary grant programs:

Links to several Education Department grant programs specific to higher education are listed below:

Department of Energy

The Department of Energy’s goal is to advance national, economic and energy security in the U.S.; to promote scientific and technological innovation in support of that goal; and to ensure environmental cleanup of the national nuclear weapons complex.


Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)

The Department of Health and Human Services is the federal government’s principal agency for protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services, especially to those who are least able to help themselves.  Links to several DHHS agencies are listed below:

  • National Institutes of Health (NIH)

    The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is the largest source of funding for medical research in the world, creating hundreds of thousands of high-quality jobs by funding thousands of scientists in universities and research institutions in the U.S. and around the globe. More than 80% of the NIH's budget goes to over 3,000 universities and research institutions. NIH is made up of 27 Institutes and Centers, each with a specific research agenda, often focusing on particular diseases or body systems.

Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

The Department of Housing and Urban Development’s mission is to increase homeownership, support community development and increase access to affordable housing free from discrimination. HUD fulfills this mission through high ethical standards, management and accountability, and by forming partnerships with community organizations.


Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. It's mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas. The Institute works at the national level and in coordination with state and local organizations to sustain heritage, culture, and knowledge; enhance learning and innovation; and support professional development.

Department of the Interior

The Department of the Interior protects and provides access to the Nation’s natural and cultural heritage, including responsibilities to Indian tribes and island communities. Departmental goals include resource protection and usage, overseeing recreational opportunities, and serving communities by promoting excellence in natural resource management.


Department of Justice

The Department of Justice enforces the law and defends the interest of the United States, ensuring public safety against threats foreign and domestic; providing federal leadership in preventing and controlling crime; seeking just punishment for those guilty of unlawful pursuits; and ensuring fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans.


Department of Labor

The Department of Labor fosters and promotes the welfare of job seekers, wage earners and retirees by improving their working conditions, advancing their opportunities, protecting their retirement and health benefits and generally protecting worker rights and monitoring national economic measures.

Library of Congress

The Library of Congress is the nation's oldest federal cultural institution and serves as the research arm of Congress. It is also the largest library in the world, with millions of books, recordings, photographs, maps and manuscripts in its collections.  The Library's mission is to support the Congress in fulfilling its constitutional duties and to further the progress of knowledge and creativity for the benefit of the American people.


National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration serves as the nation’s forefront of such exploration and continues to pioneer in aeronautics, exploration systems, science and space operations.

National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)

The National Archives and Records Administration enables people to inspect the record of what the federal government has done, enables officials and agencies to review their actions and helps citizens hold them accountable.

National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government. To date, the NEA has awarded more than $4 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. The NEA awards matching grants to not-for-profit organizations. In addition, it awards non-matching individual fellowships in literature and honorary fellowships in jazz, the folk and traditional arts, and opera.

National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) is an independent federal agency created in 1965. It is one of the largest funders of humanities programs in the United States. NEH grants typically go to cultural institutions, such as museums, archives, libraries, colleges, universities, public television, and radio stations, and to individual scholars. Grants provided under NEH are intended to:

  • strengthen teaching and learning in the humanities in schools and colleges across the nation
  • facilitate research and original scholarship
  • provide opportunities for lifelong learning
  • preserve and provide access to cultural and educational resources
  • strengthen the institutional base of the humanities

National Science Foundation (NSF)

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency created by Congress "to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense…" With an annual budget of about $6.9 billion (FY 2010), NSF is the funding source for approximately 20 percent of all federally supported basic research conducted by America’s colleges and universities. In many fields such as mathematics, computer science and the social sciences, NSF is the major source of federal backing.

NSF fulfills their mission chiefly by issuing limited-term grants -- currently about 10,000 new awards per year, with an average duration of three years -- to fund specific research proposals that have been judged the most promising by a rigorous and objective merit-review system. Most of these awards go to individuals or small groups of investigators. Others provide funding for research centers, instruments and facilities that allow scientists, engineers and students to work at the outermost frontiers of knowledge.


Institute of Peace Grant Program

The United States Institute of Peace is an independent, nonpartisan, national institution established and funded by Congress. Its goals are to help:

  • Prevent and resolve violent international conflicts
  • Promote post-conflict stability and development
  • Increase conflict management capacity, tools, and intellectual capital worldwide

The Institute does this by empowering others with knowledge, skills, and resources, as well as by directly engaging in peacebuilding efforts around the globe.


Department of State

The mission of the U.S. State Department is to advance freedom for the benefit of the American people and the international community by helping to build and sustain a more democratic, secure, and prosperous world composed of well-governed states that respond to the needs of their people, reduce widespread poverty, and act responsibly within the international system.

  • Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs

    • Fulbright Program

      The term "Fulbright Program" encompasses a variety of exchange programs, including both individual and institutional grant programs:

      The Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program sends approximately 1,100 American scholars and professionals per year to approximately 125 countries, where they lecture and/or conduct research in a wide variety of academic and professional fields.

      The Fulbright Specialist Program, a short-term complement to the core Fulbright Scholar Program, sends U.S. faculty and professionals to serve as expert consultants on curriculum, faculty development, institutional planning and related subjects at overseas academic institutions for a period of 2 to 6 weeks.

      The Fulbright Visiting Scholar Program provides grants to approximately 850 foreign scholars from over 95 countries to lecture and/or conduct postdoctoral research at U.S. institutions for an academic semester to a full academic year.

      The Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence (SIR) Program enables U.S. colleges and universities to host foreign academics to lecture on a wide range of subject fields for a semester or academic year. Preference is given to institutions developing an international agenda and/or serving a minority audience, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic Serving Institutions, Tribal Colleges, small liberal arts colleges and community colleges. Approximately 50 grants are awarded annually.

Other Informative Federal Government Sites:


Federal Register

Published by the Office of the Federal Register, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), the Federal Register is the official daily publication for rules, proposed rules, and notices of Federal agencies and organizations, as well as executive orders and other presidential documents.

Government Accountability Office (GAO)

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for Congress. Often called the "congressional watchdog," GAO investigates how the federal government spends taxpayer dollars. GAO's products include reports, testimonies, correspondence, and legal decisions, which are available to the public. Their staff includes economists, social scientists, accountants, public policy analysts, attorneys, as well as specialists in fields ranging from foreign policy to health care.

White House

The White House website has information and links to all three branches of the federal government, including general information regarding federal agencies and commissions. For a complete index and access to all federal agencies and commissions, go to USA.Gov or to the United States Govenment Manual below.


United States Government Manual

As the official handbook of the Federal Government, the United States Government Manual provides comprehensive information on the agencies of the legislative, judicial, and executive branches. It also includes information on quasi-official agencies; international organizations in which the United States participates; and boards, commissions, and committees. The Manual begins with reprints of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.

If you know of a link you think others would find helpful, or have other comments, please contact the CFR Director at ext. 4856.