Individuals may qualify for scholarships or fellowships, rather than grants. Grant funds are generally NOT available to start or expand a business – although there are some loan programs offered through the Small Business Administration.
In selected cases, for-profit businesses might qualify for innovative research grants. See mtip.mt.gov. To learn about Downtown Billings incentive and grant programs, please see www.downtownbillings.com. The State of Montana provides limited grant funds for childcare providers, through local Human Resources Development Council (HRDC) districts. See also Montana Department of Commerce, Business Resource Division for Big Sky Trust Fund , Workforce Training Grants, and Department of Labor, Incumbent Worker Training Grants.
In general, for all grants, you must identify a need in the community, document the need with some statistics and stories, and then explain how your project or idea will successfully address that “unmet need.” (Do you have a proven record of accomplishments in the service area or business for which you want to earn an income?) Next, you must develop a budget and timeline, showing “Sources of Funds” and “Uses of Funds.” And, many granting entities encourage collaborative efforts in a community. They nearly always ask, “Who else is addressing this need, and how are you working with them?”
You may approach local service clubs, business owners and corporations to inquire about both local and corporate or foundation funding guidelines. Several foundations that support local projects are: The Sample Foundation, the Fortin Foundation, The M. J. Murdock Trust, bank foundations, the Billings Breakfast Exchange Club Foundation, The Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation, and the Charles M. Bair Family Trust. Once you find potential and investigate funding sources that fit, you must evaluate whether your organization is ready to accept the responsibilities, accountability, and reporting requirements should your request be successful.
You can obtain information and sign up for “free grants” alerts on several websites. Most have some information available at no charge, and offer additional services for a fee.
- The Foundation Center. The MSU-Billings library is a cooperating collection with The Foundation Center. At the MSU-Billings library, you can access the full database of grantmakers through the “FC Search” program. Ask a librarian for assistance. You will also want to get a free subscription to the Foundation Center’s Philanthropy News Digest.
- Free Online Training: http://www.grantspace.org/Classroom
- Sample Documents: http://www.grantspace.org/Tools/Sample-Documents
- The Grantsmanship Center: www.tgci.com
- Montana Community Foundation
- Rural Community Assistance Corporation
- Look for federal government information at www.grants.gov
- Learn about State of Montana opportunities at http://mt.gov and search for grant programs by agency or department.
- You’ll want to use statistics and demographic information to support your statement of need. Several links are available in the STATS section of this website.