How to Apply for a USAID Grant

by David Weedmark

If you have a project that will help reduce poverty, save lives, or otherwise benefit developing regions of the world, you may be eligible for one of the many grants offered by the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID. You can use one of a number of ways to apply for a grant or funding with USAID. Respond to a request for proposal, an RFP; apply for a Development Innovations Ventures, or DIV grant; or submit an unsolicited proposal to USAID. You may also be eligible for grant opportunities through any of USAID's current projects.

Development Innovations Ventures

Every quarter, the USAID runs a competition for development ideas, awarding the winners with a DIV grant. To apply for a USAID DIV grant, you must first submit a letter of interest, an LOI, that describes the purpose of your project, its financial information and a summary of its goals. Before sending an application, examine the DIV annual program statement to ensure your program falls within its mandate. Programs are eligible under three stages: seed financing, testing and scaling, or widespread implementation. If the USAID is interested in your project, they will then send you a complete application form with additional instructions.

Responding to RFPs

The USAID posts RFPs on its Partnership Opportunities Web page, which often includes grant opportunities for specific projects in different regions of the world. To apply for any of these grants, follow the link to the Grants.gov website. You will have to register with Grants.gov, either as an individual or as an organization, and complete a grant application. It normally takes three to five business days for your registration to be completed before you can download a grant application package.

Unsolicited Grant Applications

If you have a project or an idea that you believe fits within USAID's mandate, you can submit an unsolicited grant application. While the USAID does review every unsolicited grant application it receives, only a small number are approved. Before applying, you should familiarize yourself with past projects at USAID's Development Experience Clearinghouse website and thoroughly review the application requirements. Ideas need to be innovative, unique and independently developed by you or your organization.

Other Ways to Apply

In addition to applying directly to the USAID, you can apply to specific USAID projects for grants and prizes. In August 2014, the USAID had launched five separate projects under its Grand Challenges for Development initiative. If your project, for example, involves an innovative way to save lives at birth, you may be eligible for a grant from the Saving Lives at Birth project. Additional opportunities for funding are listed on USAID's Opportunities for Funding page, including American Schools and Hospitals Abroad and the Child Survival and Health Grants Program.

About the Author

A published author and professional speaker, David Weedmark has advised businesses and governments on technology, media and marketing for more than 20 years. He has taught computer science at Algonquin College, has started three successful businesses, and has written hundreds of articles for newspapers and magazines throughout Canada and the United States.

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