There is a significant difference between being grant ready for federal grants, via the required registration systems, and if that has any bearing on being grant ready for state grants. In my previous column, I outlined the registration steps necessary to be grant ready for federal grants. If you missed Building Blocks of Federal Grant Registrations you can catch up here to ensure that you will have all required registrations complete in order to pursue federal grants.
In looking at grant readiness for state grant funding, it is not always clear what the state-wide registration requirements are versus those of a specific agency. Each state has the authority to manage its grant funding differently, and therefore some states have pursued consolidated systems while others have gone through smaller consolidations, or have left individual systems.
With such variation, the questions then are: “How can you be sure that your grant-seeking organization is “grant ready” in the specific states where you operate/do business? Your job as a grant-seeking organization?” If you are unsure of what your state’s requirements and online systems are (if any), start by reading the eligibility criteria and application process information for the agency that you wish to secure funding through. That will give you a basic understanding of whether or not there is a larger registration requirement in your state that you must go through to prequalify/preregister prior to formally applying for funding.
Looking at other state systems can help you understand the spectrum of grant systems that have been implemented, although the lessons learned for one state’s registration and grant readiness may not assist you at all in the process in another state. For example, in New York state, a system called the Grants Gateway was implemented. All grant-seeking organizations: municipalities, nonprofits, schools, institutions of higher education, and for-profit businesses must be successfully “prequalified” within the system for the agency they intend to pursue funding from in order to be eligible to apply for grants within New York. The Grants Gateway system has no automatic link to the DUNS system as SAM.gov does at the federal level. The Grants Gateway system doesn’t have one annual renewal process, rather, renewal processes are tied to specific organization documents, such as an annual tax filing or CHAR 500 nonprofit report.
As another example, in the state of New Jersey, the adoption of SAGE (System for Administering Grants Electronically) exists. Each state department has its own Help Desk to support its use of SAGE, as well as its own user manual specific to the applications it manages, through the electronic system as illustrated in the screen shot of their help desk below.
The lesson and best practice related to state government grants when there are 50 different variations of grant readiness? Research what the state registration systems are when you first begin to consider pursuing state grants, and after conducting your research, confirm what you have learned online by talking with staff at the agency you are most interested in securing funding through. This will prevent the situation where you have an application ready to submit, but are unable to be considered for funding due to a hole in your registrations within the state.
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