Note: This blog post was originally published in 2017 and updated on January 21, 2020.
A block grant is a specific type of federal financial assistance for a broadly defined function. (Editor’s note: Before getting into the nuance of block grants, you may want to review the terms “federal financial assistance” and “grant.”)
Block grants are often awarded by the federal government to U.S. state or territory governments, although some block grants are awarded directly to local governments (e.g., Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Entitlement Program to cities and counties on a formula basis).
The block grant recipients then implement the programs within those broadly defined functions (i.e., the purpose & parameters defined by legislation).