A grant is a transfer of money usually from a non-profit agency or government agency to another non-profit or government agency.  A grant may be given to an individual (such as a scholarship or fellowship) but it is more often given to an organization.

When a grant is given, there are usually no requirements to repay the money.  The library often gets inquiries about how to get free money or grants to meet a particular need, such as starting a business, home repair, education and other personal needs.  While grants might not be available in every situation, other forms of assistance include loans, loan insurance, business consultation, and technical assistance.  These types of support are still very valuable.  The following are some frequently asked questions and answers about locating grants and other types of assistance.

Common Questions:
I want to find out more about government aid.  Where do I start?
What is a non-profit organization?  Can I get money from them?
I work with a non-profit organization.  What resources are available for my group?
Can my church apply for grants and assistance?
I would like to start a for-profit business.  What assistance is available for me?
I need help fixing up my house.  Can the government help?
Is there funding available for education, artistic projects or other personal needs?

I want to find out more about government aid.  Where do I start?

Most government grants go to states, cities, or non-profit organizations so that these groups can provide programs and services to individuals.  Grants for higher education are one exception where grants go to individuals.  To apply for higher education grants and loans from the federal government, you will need to submit a completed FAFSA form.  The FAFSA form is available at some library branches and is available online at

For information about other government assistance for individuals, try the GovBenefits website at  Answer a few questions and then view a list of government programs that may be appropriate for you along with information about how you can apply.

The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) is the government publication that lists all of the federal programs that provide assistance to states, cities, businesses, as well as individuals.  This assistance includes financial and non-financial help.  This list can be found at the website:  The list can be searched in many ways; look for the links type of assistance and applicant eligibility.

The Central Library also has a copy of the Government Assistance Almanac.  This book lists the same programs found in the CFDA online, but many users find the almanac easier to use.  The Government Assistance Almanac is kept at the Business/Science reference desk at the Central Library and is available to use within the library, but cannot be checked out.

If you are looking for grants geared towards organizations, you might be interested in this website:, where federal government agencies post grant announcements. You can sign up to receive grant announcements by e-mail and apply for appropriate grants online.


What is a non-profit organization? Can I get money from them?

A non-profit organization is an organization that either does not make money or uses all of its profits to advance its services and programs.  The owners of a non-profit organization do not get to keep any earnings.  IRS regulations make it very difficult for non-profit organizations to give money directly to individuals.  These agencies may have programs that help people but the aid is usually not in the form of free money.


I work with a non-profit organization.  What resources are available for my group?

The Central Library's Nonprofit Resource Center is a special collection of resources located on the third floor in the Business & Science Department.  Whether you are just starting to research a nonprofit venture or would like to strengthen an existing one, there is a wealth of information available in a variety of formats: books, videos, periodicals, and online tools.  As a Cooperating Collection of the Foundation Center, this center maintains numerous directories of grants and grantmakers.


Can my church apply for grants and assistance?

The church, as an organization, can apply for grants and funding from private foundations and other charitable groups.


I would like to start a for-profit business.  What assistance is available for me?

Generally, the grants available to business are intended for disaster relief, agriculture, and the development of technology.  However, there are many sources of non-grant help in the Memphis area:

The Tennessee Small Business Development Center (TSBDC) offers free assistance to help business owners grow and develop successful, thriving businesses.  The TSBDC gives advice about banking, sources of capital, business proposals, and more.  Contact them at 901-526-9300 (Renaissance Center) or 901-333-5058 (SWCC).  Their website can be found at

The Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) is a nonprofit association dedicated to providing entrepreneurs with free, confidential, face-to-face counseling. Contact this group at 901-544-3588.  The SCORE website can be found at

The Small Business Administration (SBA) does not provide grants or loans to small business.  Instead, the SBA offers loan guarantees so that businesses will be more attractive to local lenders such as banks or venture capitalists.  You can find helpful information on the SBA website located at  The Tennessee district office of the SBA is located at 555 Beale Street.  Call 901-526-9300 for more information on their services.

For more local organizations that offer assistance, check out "Where to go for Small Business Information in Memphis & Shelby County" on the library's website: 

I need help fixing up my house. Can the government help?

The government agency to contact is the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).  Loans and loan-guarantee programs are available for buying, repairing, and rehabilitating homes if you meet their conditions.  Information about these programs can be found on the HUD website: You can also contact the local HUD office at 901-544-3367.


Is there funding available for education, artistic projects or other personal needs?

The library has several reference books that can be useful in locating scholarships for higher education.  Additionally, the Foundation Center website has a great page that lists starting points for these areas.  This page is located at


The Central Library's Business & Science Department has several collections that are related to grants and other types of assistance.  The Nonprofit Resource Center contains resources primarily for non-profit organizations including grant and proposal writing, working with volunteers and fundraising.  The First Tennessee Small Business Center is made available to help entrepreneurs and existing businesses start or expand their business with resources such as books, videos, government publications and periodicals.  The Job and Career Center has scholarship books to locate sources of funding for education.  Come and visit these centers on the third floor of the Central Library or check out suggested online resources at