Exploring Eligibility: Federal Grants for Native American Tribal Governments and Organizations

There are a variety of federal financial assistance opportunities specifically for American Indians and Alaska Natives. This article, which is part of the Exploring Eligibility blog series, will explain where Grants.gov fits into your search process.

Exploring Eligibility blog series

If you are a member of a Native American tribal entity searching for federal grants or benefits, you probably fall into one of three situations:

  1. You are searching for federal grants or benefits on behalf of a federally-recognized Native American tribal government.
  2. You are searching for federal grants or benefits on behalf of a Native American tribal organization that is not a federally-recognized government.
  3. You are searching for personal assistance or benefits.

If one of the first two situations applies to you, you can begin by looking for relevant federal grant opportunities using the Grants.gov Search page. If you are searching for personal assistance or benefits, we go over that below as well.

There are way too many search results. How do I narrow them down?

In addition to a keyword, such as “education,” check the box(es) next to Native American tribal governments and/or Native American tribal organizations under the Eligibility criteria heading. See the screenshot below for an example; we’ve highlighted the two Eligibility criteria you may select:

Narrowing search results on Grants.gov

When you search by keyword, only grants open to Native American tribal governments and/or organizations will appear in the search results if the boxes are checked.

When you find a grant that might be suitable for your government or organization, carefully read the grant’s synopsis to learn more about the opportunity. Note that some federal grants will be open both to American Indian and Alaska Native groups and to other eligibility groups, such as nonprofits and public (including Indian) housing authorities.

Are there any other federal websites that post grant opportunities for American Indians and Alaska Natives?

The website NativeOneStop.gov also posts grant opportunities, which can be found using the keyword search feature. Please note, however, that NativeOneStop.gov and its Resource Finder tool are designed for individuals, rather than organizations. So Grants.gov is your best bet for finding grants for organizations.

I’m looking for a grant that will benefit me personally.

You’re not alone. Many people come to Grants.gov looking for personal grants and benefits that will help them pay their bills, access medical treatment, or repair their home—none of which Grants.gov offers.

Grants.gov only posts grant opportunities designed to benefit the public at large. Instead, you will want to visit federal government websites that focus on serving American Indian and Alaska Native individuals and families.

OK, so where do I start searching for personal federal assistance?

Your first stop should be NativeOneStop.gov (mentioned above), where you can use the Resource Finder wizard to compile a list of resources that you or a family member may be eligible to receive.

The website also lists resources by category, which include education, food, employment, loans, the environment, and youth.

Your second stop can be USA.gov’s resource portal for federally recognized Indian Tribes and Native Americans. On this page, you will find a link to the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Housing Improvement Program, which “provides home repair, renovation, replacement, and new housing grants.”

Another key federal website that we’ve mentioned before in the Exploring Eligibility blog series is Benefits.gov.

Federally recognized American Indian and Alaskan Native (AI/AN) tribal members may be eligible for cash assistance, as outlined on Benefits.gov’s Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Financial Assistance and Social Services (FASS) program page:

Cash assistance to meet essential needs of food, clothing, shelter, and utilities. Additionally, each General Assistance recipient must work with a social services worker to develop and sign an Individual Self Sufficiency Plan (ISP) to meet the goal of employment. The plan must outline specific steps the individual will take to increase independence.

Another important resource at Benefits.gov is the Benefit Finder tool. This is a wizard that will walk an individual user through a series of screens to determine which, if any, federal benefits he or she is eligible for.

When you get to the General screen in the Benefit Finder, be sure to check that you are Native American or American Indian. See the orange arrow in the screenshot below:
Benefits.gov Benefit Finder for Native Americans or American Indians

Do you have questions or comments about federal grant eligibility for Indian tribes and Native Americans? Please use the comment section below to post your feedback. Read our Comment Policy and Privacy Notice.

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