Federal grants in the United States are financial aid provided by the government of the United States from general federal funds. A federal grant is a cash reward made by a federal agency to a recipient to carry out a public objective of support or stimulation permitted by U.S. law.

Outside of the United States, government or private organizations utilize grants, subventions, or subsidies in a similar way to subsidize programs and projects that meet the grant-giving entity's or donor's funding criteria. Grants can be unlimited, allowing the recipient to use them whatever they like within the confines of the recipient organization's operations, or the benefactor can restrict them to a specified purpose.

In this article, Let's explore the in-depth defecation of U.S. Grants, specifically under Grants.gov, along with the grants process, eligibility, and challenges in the grants system and how location analytics can help secures million of infrastructure funding.

What is a Grant?

A grant is a method for the government to finance your ideas and projects in exchange for public services and economic stimulation. Grants help fund significant recovery efforts, cutting-edge research, and various other programs included in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA).

A grant is one of several types of financial aid provided by the federal government. The term "federal financial aid" refers to the various means by which the United States government redistributes money to eligible recipients. Grants.gov lists grant and cooperative agreement opportunities from federal grant-making agencies.

The Grants Process

The grant application process follows a linear phase, which involves identifying a funding opportunity, submitting an application, receiving award decisions, and effectively executing the award.

The lifecycle's precise actions are divided into three primary parts. Each of the three phases has its own website with further information about the procedure:

1.      Pre-Award Phase - Funding Opportunities and Application Review

2.      Award Phase - Award Decisions and Notifications

3.      Post Award - Implementation, Reporting, and Closeout

How to Determine Eligibility for Federal Funding Opportunities

The first stage in the federal grant application procedure is determining your eligibility for federal funds. Legislation and federal agency rules specify the qualifying conditions for funding opportunities. To be eligible for a grant, you must fulfill the qualifying conditions of the opportunity.

Here are some pointers on how to locate federal funding options that you could be eligible for:

1.     Determine the Applicant Entity Type

It's critical to figure out whether you're eligible to apply for and get a government grant. For example, suppose you are not legally qualified for a certain financing opportunity. In that case, you will spend a lot of time and money filling out the application to find out that you are not eligible for the award.

Many different sorts of organizations are eligible to apply for money through Grants.gov. Each organization listed in the categories below is a distinct Search Grants search criterion.

·        Government Organizations

·        Education Organizations

·        Public Housing Organizations

·        Nonprofit Organizations

·        For-Profit Organizations

·        Organizations other than small businesses

·        Small Businesses

·        Individuals

·        Foreign Applicants

2.     Initiate a Keyword Search and Then Refine Your Results

Because each funding opportunity has its own set of eligibility standards, using Grants.gov Search is a crucial aspect of evaluating an entity's funding eligibility. To begin, go to Grants.gov's Search page and type in a keyword. Make your statement as detailed as possible. Select the Funding Instrument Type, Eligibility, or Category on the left side of the page after a keyword search to reduce the results. Next, under eligibility, choose "City or township governments," which narrows the list of eligible financing opportunities to those open to city or township governments.

(Note: The number in parentheses corresponds to the number of funding possibilities available for this business type.) Finally, remember to save your search so that you may be notified when new funding opportunities matching this criterion become available.

3.     Analyze Each Funding Opportunity in Depth

Once you've found a group of funding opportunities that look to be a good fit for you, go over the formal eligibility requirements for each one. This should be done before you start working on the application in earnest, so you can ensure that the program is a suitable fit for your applicant company. The eligibility conditions for the financing opportunity may be mentioned in the grant Synopsis' Eligibility section. However, the conditions are frequently described in better detail in the federal grant-making agency's official funding opportunity announcement (FOA) document.

To find the FOA, go to Grants.gov's Search Grants tab and apply the keyword search or search criteria function to identify funding possibilities. Use key phrases or search criteria that best characterize the activities that the grant will fund and the anticipated public benefit that your award will provide. Although federal grant-making agencies may post FOAs on their websites, Grants.gov provides a centralized search for all federal grant-making agencies.

4.     Connect with the Agency's Point of Contact.

If you still have concerns about eligibility after reading the FOA, contact the federal agency point of contact provided in the FOA. The grant-making organization can list contact information in one of two places:

·        Look for the Grantor Contact Information field in the Additional Information            section of the Synopsis tab

·        Click on the preview link under the Package tab. In the pop-up window, under            the Opportunity Package Details section, look for the Agency Contact                            Information

Challenges with U.S. Grants

Federal and state grants are commonly criticized for what are believed to be excessive rules and the lack of prospects for small businesses and for providing smaller states more money per person regardless of population or need. These criticisms include problems of overlap, redundancy, excessive categorization, inadequate information, shifting standards, arbitrary government decision-making, and grantsmanship (a funding bias toward entities most familiar with how to exploit the system rather than to those most in need). In addition, according to research by Adam M. Dynes and Gregory A. Huber (2015), government funds are frequently distributed politically, with more money flowing to areas represented by the political party that controls Congress or the presidency.

Grant Program Highlights by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)

The Department of Transportation's mission is to serve the United States by ensuring a fast, safe, efficient, accessible, and convenient transportation system that serves all the vital national interests and improves the quality of life for Americans today and in the future. DOT provides various grants for various sectors in the transportation industry. For example, the Federal Transit Administration Grant programs include The Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, signed into law in December 2015.

The act, which supports transit funding through the fiscal year 2020, reauthorizes FTA programs and includes changes to improve mobility, streamline capital project construction and acquisition, and increase the safety of public transportation systems across the country.

In 2021, the U.S. Department of Transportation released a Statement of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for a $1.5 billion discretionary grant program called Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE). The well-known initiative assists towns around the country in completing projects that have a significant local or regional effect. Dedicated bus lanes in Baltimore, highway and bridge repairs in New Mexico, port replacements in Alaska, and a rail-to-trail project in Arkansas are just a few examples of newly funded projects.

Likewise, there are several grants for various projects, including Small Business Innovation Research Grant, Federal Railroad Administration Grant, Hazardous Materials Grant Program, Airport Improvement Program Grant, and many more. With President Biden's Bipartisan Infrastructure Act, these Grants essentially help organizations will be able to fund more projects than ever before, helping to make the transportation system safer, more accessible, and more sustainable for people throughout the country.

How Location Analytics Helps Secures Million of Infrastructure Grant

After the approval of the Bipastrain Bill, many cities and states are starting to prioritize projects to qualify for federal funding that focuses on rebuilding critical infrastructure. Federal grants like the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) hold billions of dollars in possible grants, and states that want to qualify need compelling evidence that funds are well spent.

Infrastructure planners target large projects worth billions of dollars with a potential focus on various grants applications like INFRA application. A project's aims and objectives are crucial as they define the eligibility for the grants. However, there are many factors to why planners need access to good data for better planning to quality for the grants. For instance, if a planner knows significant freight movement through the project corridor. However, they hadn't quantified the geographic scope until they leveraged the Origin-Destination Metric for truck traffic through transportation location analytics experts and leaders like AirSage.

By using location data from the industry experts, planners can also have clear data visualization that shows funding impact. More than just numbers, having great visuals within the software solutions user interface is also essential. Since images show better understandings of the data provided, these images put national impact at the forefront of the grant application. In addition, the visualization was critical for funding officials to see the data in context.  

In conclusion, we can see how many organizations, from governments and private sectors to individuals, can apply for the grant programs. There are many different grant programs like Federal Grants, Funding and Benefit Programs for all levels of government, nonprofit organizations, for-profit businesses, and other eligible entities, and Non-Federal Grant Programs. However, there are still challenges and problems within these grant programs; therefore, there is a need for greater accountability on how the states actually spend the funds. However, on the other hand, using location insights from pioneering companies can potentially help in grant approval. The visualizations quickly communicated the information in an easy-to-understand context, increasing stakeholder support for the initiative. In addition, transportation analytics that pinpoints how people travel across cities, even down to specific crossings, can aid in securing competitive financing and predicting project success.