State Grants

State grants are available for a number of different purposes such as education, scientific artistic projects, or business endeavors. These are grants issued by state governments, usually arising from allocations on the federal level for education and economic development. Like federal grants, these grants are not the guaranteed or easy to get monetary sources that some websites and book publishers make them out to be. However it can be somewhat easier to get these grants than federal ones, depending on the reason for the grant. Many of these grants are even offered to individuals.

It’s somewhat difficult to talk about state grants in a general sense because they differ from state to state. The best way to get a sense of the available grant options is to look at the various programs each specific state offers. So we’ll take New York, Minnesota, and California as sample states and look at some of their grant programs.

New York

Educational Grants

Tuition Assistance Program (TAP).

TAP is a state issued college grants, mainly for students attending the state’s university system. The amounts of the award may be as much as $5000 per academic year. There are criteria that must be met in order to qualify for the grant such as that the applicant must be a US citizen, must be a legal resident of the state, have a high school diploma or equivalent, have a at least a C average, be in the eligible income range, not be in default on certain student loans, and be applying to an institution that charges them over $200 in tuition. A number of other criteria also apply.

Grants for Science and Technology Research

The New York State Foundation for Science, Technology, and Innovation (known as NYSTAR), offers the Small Business Technology Investment Fund (SBTIF). This is a grant program aimed at supply high technology start-up companies with venture capital. It hopes to encourage the development of these businesses. NYSTAR partners with local government and universities to build seed funds in various regions around the state.

Grants for the Arts

The New York State Council on the Arts offers grants to a variety of arts organizations around the state. These are aimed at fostering the availability of artistic and cultural resources for the state’s citizens. These grants do not appear to be offered to individual artists, but if an artist were to affiliate himself or herself with a certain organization for a specific project, the organization could be granted money that the individual could use.

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Grants for Business

The Empire State Development Corporation (sounds private but it is actually considered a public authority) assists small and large businesses in the state. It appears however that this assistance is mainly in the form of loans rather than grants, so free money may be hard to come by in New York for this purpose.

Now let’s take a look at Minnesota

Minnesota

Educational Grants

The Minnesota Department of Education offers a variety of educational grant programs. Grants are available for adult education (i.e. students returning to college after an extended period), after school programs, school improvement, Indian education, and many other areas.

Grants for Science and Technology Research

The Minnesota Department of Commerce, along with the Office of Energy Security offer grants for research into energy usage options for the state. The grants are awarded for the purpose of studying areas such as fuel cell technology, wind energy, solid state lighting, and many others.

Grants for the Arts

A program called the Artist Initiative gives grants ranging from $2000 to $10,000 to individual artists for creative projects in all the major media – music, theater, visual arts, poetry and prose, and so on. This is an example of the type of grant that an individual can apply for. How easy it is to be approved is hard to say.

But this is probably not the sort of grant that one would commonly find at the federal level, or at least it would be difficult to be approved for at that level. Naturally these grants are more for organizations such as research groups, universities, and corporations than for individuals. But as we see here, at the state level it is a different story. An individual can apply for these grants and very possibly receive them. In fact, this program is designed for that purpose.

Grants for Business

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development offers the Minnesota Investment Fund. This is a grant program for local governmental offices (county, city, town, Indian tribal governments, etc.) that in turn provide grants for businesses seeking to expand. Small businesses owned by individuals might qualify (sole proprietorships, etc.), so in a sense this is a grant that individuals might be eligible for.

Finally, let’s take a look at California:

California

Educational Grants

The Cal grant program is in place to help students pay for college expenses. The form that students fill out to apply for this is the FAFSA, even though it is a state grant. Students must submit their GPA as well as there are certain academic criteria for qualifying for the grant.

Grants for Housing

The California Department of Housing and Community Development offers a program called the Local Housing Trust Fund Program. This is a fund matching program – the state government matches funds, dollar for dollar, with trust funds that are set up by private contributions or public sources. This gives these sources more clout in offering funds for various housing assistance purposes in the state.

Grants for the Arts

The California Arts Council, through the Center for Cultural Innovation, offers the Investing in Artists Grants Program. Grants are awarded to individual artists for innovative work they are developing. There are a number of other grants programs for individual artists and arts organizations in the state as well.

Grants for Business

Again, it appears that California offers mainly loans rather than grants to expand businesses. A program called the Small Business Loan Guarantee program allows companies to clean up their credit and get loans they might not otherwise be able to get, and other assistance is offered by a group called CaIBIS. But not grants.

Grants at the State Level from Private Sources

When talking about state grants, you don’t necessarily need to think in terms of state government as a grant source. There are many private grant foundations that offer grants in specific areas such as counties or states. The whole grant finding process involves basically identifying exactly what you want to the grant for and then checking out a whole series of public and private sources to see what kind of money is available.

As an example, in the state of California there is an organization called the California Community Foundation. This is a private non-profit organization that offers grants and facilitates grants given by other organizations or private individuals. It focuses on the Los Angeles area. It gives grants in areas such as community welfare, education, the arts, health care, urban development, and so on. Most of its grants seem to be for organizations, but it mentions fellowships given to promising artists in the area as a way of pursuing their arts education/artistic projects.

This is just one of many. A search of the internet will turn up a large number of organizations at the state level, based on specific criteria, that either individuals or organizations could apply to for grant assistance. The likelihood of receiving these grants depends on a lot of factors – how many others have applied, the type of organization, what the grant is for, and so on. But there certainly is a chance of being approved and they are worth checking out.

How to Find State Grants

One of the best ways to find state grants is to search online and find integrated sites that list many grants programs and sources in one place. Note that this is different from finding grant sites that have some kind of commercial intention – to sell you their services in finding grants, charge you money for information you could find free, and make unrealistic promises about your likelihood of getting the grants. The preferable sites are often state governmental sites, or integrative lists of grant foundations in the private sector.

Usually each state will have a site like this, or several. And there are more comprehensive sites like grants.gov that list grants nationwide. While many of the grant programs that grants.gov lists are federal, they may also list state grants and ones from private foundations. The main grant information sites for the three states mentioned in this article are given below in the helpful links section.

The way to search for these sites in a particular state is to search on “_______ state grants” – putting the state name in the blank. That will usually get you the right results. Look especially for websites that have the .gov extension in them.

If you are looking for private grant foundations, you would look search under “______ grant foundations” or a similar term.

Helpful Links

New York State
http://www.nysl.nysed.gov/ils/topics/grants.htm

Minnesota
http://www.grants.state.mn.us/public/

California
http://www.ca.gov/Grants.html