Grants can be a godsend for single mothers in financial need. Single moms often struggle financially to just to meet the basic demands for their family – keeping the rent or mortgage paid up-to-date, utilities, food, health care, and childcare-related expenses. As overwhelming as it may seem, assistance is available, and the most coveted assistance is through receiving grants. Yet grants can be difficult to obtain, though possible by researching to identify which grant programs make the most sense for you, and then learning about and navigating the application process.
What are grants for single mothers? The difference between a grant and other forms of assistance (such as a loan, for example) is that grants do not need to be repaid. They do not accrue interest and are tax exempt. Grants are typically offered by groups that include governmental agencies, companies, nonprofit organizations, foundations, and educational institutions and trusts. The key is to find a program that matches your living situation and that you find helpful given whatever guidelines and restrictions are specified.
With research and perseverance, you may be able to find a grant that matches your specific needs. This article provides information to use as a starting point to research some of the most common grants that are sought by single mothers. Read below to discover the different types of grants that are available, where to find them, and how to apply.
Government Grants for Single Mothers
Government grants for single mothers are available based primarily on financial need, and this is often based on federally designated low-income levels. The list below can help in your research to see which government grants may best apply to your individual situation.
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
The TANF program is one of the predominant programs aimed to assist low-income families with children. It is a block grant provided by the US government to local states and territories, as well as federally recognized Indian tribes. Through each jurisdiction, the program provides income assistance in addition to helpful services, such as childcare and work-related activities. The aim of the program is to help low-income families become self-sufficient. Click here to search for which programs are available in your area.
Women, Infants and Children (WIC)
The WIC program is designed as a Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for women, infants and children. States received federal grants in order to provide supplemental food, nutrition education, and health care referrals for women who are classified as “low-income” pregnant, post-partum, and to infants and children up to the age of five who are at nutritional risk.
Click here to learn about eligibility requirements and how to apply.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
The SNAP program helps eligible, low-income families by providing benefits to communities, working with state agencies, educators, and nonprofit organizations. Before applying through your state agency, SNAP offers an online pre-screening tool to determine whether or not you meet their criteria for eligibility. If you meet the pre-screening requirements (which is NOT the same as actually applying for aid), you would then apply directly with your local state agency.
Grants.gov provides a searchable online form to find federal grant opportunities. In the filters, you would need to filter for “individuals,” otherwise your list will include grants being offered only to groups and organizations, as well.
Grants for Single Disabled Mothers
Disabled World, an online resource, has compiled information to help navigate online grant resources for disabled individuals, including single mothers who are disabled. Click here to learn more.
Grants for Single Mothers with a Disabled Child
Government programs for parents (single or not) of a disabled child can be found by visiting the Special Needs Alliance’s website, where they’ve compiled a list of the most helpful programs, including supplemental security income (SSI), social security, Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance program, nutrition assistance, and temporary cash assistance.
Grants for Single Mothers for College
Pell Grants are ideal because these do not need to be repaid and are based on low income levels, so are ideal for single mothers in most situations. The first step in applying for a Pell Grant is to complete an online FAFSA form (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).
CollegeScholarships.org has compiled a helpful list of grants available for single mothers to attend college. Here’s a link to the resource listing.
Grants for Single Mothers with Low Income
In addition to the federal grant programs listed in the first section, these opportunities are also specifically designed to assist those with low income (single mothers being one of the largest populations of low-income need).
Single mothers – as single income households – most often exemplify “low income” status, and therefore most of the grant options listed in this article would be helpful resources worth exploring. Additionally, the options listed below should be helpful options for financial assistance, as well.
If you’re seeking financial assistance, the best place to start is to find out what your local state resources can offer based on your situation and needs. Most federal dollars are funneled down to the state level to be given out either to individuals who need assistance, or to nonprofit organizations who serve particular populations.
Use this list to identify the resources in your state.
Local Nonprofit and Faith-Based Organizations
Explore the local and faith-based organizations to see what financial assistance programs are available and what the eligibility requirements are, as well as the process for applying. You can do a search online for your state or county to find nonprofit organizations. Your best bet is to look for nonprofit organizations whose mission is to help children and families.
A good place to start in finding assistance through a local nonprofit organization is your local United Way office. There are two reasons for this:
(1) They receive government assistance to support local nonprofit organizational members (through a grant-based program)
(2) most United Way offices are used to receiving requests from individuals regarding available resources. While UW offices do not offer financial assistance to individuals directly, they most often have a referral listing for financial (and other) family assistance services offered in your local community.
Local churches are another resource to explore, especially if it’s one that you already attend. But even if you don’t attend a specific church, call around to a few and ask if they offer assistance to families in need within their local community.
If you receive a positive response, ask about the eligibility requirements to see if your situation is a good match for any donation program they may have. If they do not have a program (or not one that is a fit for you), ask if they know of any other resources.
When exploring resources, local or otherwise, always inquire respectfully – even if the person on the line is unable to help you. You have a better chance of finding the assistance you need with a respectful tone and attitude than with a complaining attitude or agitated tone.
Remember – you catch more bees with honey! You will find that with kindness and respect, others are far more interested in helping to point you in the direction of resources they may know about.
LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program)
The LIHEAP program provides assistance to single mothers with low income to help offset their energy expenses: heating, cooling, and electricity bills.
Grants for Single Black Mothers
While scholarships and students loans are available specifically with a focus on assisting single mothers who are African-American, grant programs tend to cast a wider net in this regard.
Single black mothers are encouraged to apply for the same grants that are geared toward either single mothers, low-income parents, or low-income families. These grant opportunities are listed throughout this article.
Grants for Single Mothers to Start a Business
The Small Business Administration
The SBA offers opportunities to apply for grants to start a new business (or expand an existing one). Click here to learn about grants offered and eligibility requirements.
Additional grants listed below offer financial assistance to single mothers (though to all women, whether single mothers or not) who are already in business:
The Girlboss Foundation grant program offers funding up to $15,000 exclusively to female business owners working in music, fashion, design, or the arts. Criteria for selection includes: innovation and creativity, business understanding and planning, and a clear demonstration of financial need.
The Amber Grant Foundation grant program offers grants of $2,000 each month to different women who own businesses, and then another $25,000 to the winner of that year. So if your story is a good one, you could conceivably obtain a grant of $27,000 over the course of a year.
Eileen Fisher Women-owned Business Grant
The Eileen Fisher Grant Program offers grants up to $10,000 for women-owned small businesses making a positive social and environmental impact. The potential down-side of this opportunity is that the business must have been in operation for at least 3 years, so it’s not best for brand new business ventures by single mothers. That said, it can be a great fit for one who has a bit of a track record and is ready for growth to make a greater impact.
This grant is awarded in the amount of $1,000 to a single mom who is making a difference not only in her family, but in the community or the world. Grants are awarded on a monthly basis to different single moms creating a better world.
How to Apply for Grants for Single Mothers
It all starts with research to identify which grant programs are best matched to your individual situation, keeping in mind any program guidelines for eligibility or restrictions. Most grant opportunities are not aimed ONLY to single mothers, though, so competition for grant dollars can be fierce. Since grants do not need to be repaid and are tax exempt, they are coveted far more than loans or other financial assistance tools.
Create a Tracking Spreadsheet
Creating a tracking spreadsheet is helpful to track the grant program options (and their website URL), sorting the list by which seem best-matched, tracking due dates for funding cycles, tracking when each application was submitted, and tracking responses.
If you want to be really organized, you could also include the eligibility requirements for each option, and make columns for each document they require (specific documents showing proof of income, for example).
Check Eligibility Requirements
Once you have researched potential grants for which you may be eligible, check the eligibility requirements carefully. If you do not match all of their requirements, you would likely be wasting your time applying to that specific program. Each company or organization’s program goals are designed to reach a specific audience of people whom they wish to help.
Read through the Application
If possible, read through the entire application prior to applying. (Some online forms may not offer this option if the application is listed on multiple pages and you need to complete one to move onto the next, but if it is possible to print out the application, it’s helpful.) By doing this step, you can see what’s required in terms of information and documentation.
Collect& Organize Your Information
Once you’ve collected the information you need, you simply fill out the application (usually online), providing all of the information they require. If you don’t understand a question, see if you can find a number to call for assistance. If you misunderstand a question and provide the wrong information, it can hurt your chances of being awarded the grant.
After you have applied, you wait until a determination has been made. Meanwhile, you can apply for other grants while waiting to hear back from the first one. The process is the same – research, read the application, gather information and required documentation, and then apply.
Repeat this for any grant program you feel you’d qualify for. It’s best not to depend on only one opportunity if you’re a fit for others, since your first option may not be granted. Grants are stiff competition, so apply to as many programs as possible for the best odds of obtaining a grant.
What scholarships are available for single mothers? There are a number of scholarships designed to assist single moms returning to school. Scholarships.org has compiled an extensive list of resources and grant opportunities for single moms here.
Are there grants for single mothers to buy a house? While grants are not common to help single mothers purchase a home, some home loan types are better than others: FHA, VA (if applicable as a military widow or military service individual), and USDA loan types are all worth exploring with a lender to see which best suits your individual needs.
What other forms of assistance are available for single mothers? Single mothers can benefit from programs that range from help with purchasing groceries, low-income housing assistance, workforce skills development, and more. The best place to identify resources are within your local community. You can use this online listing to find your state’s local department of health and human services as a place to start inquiring about local referrals for various types of assistance.
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