Mandatory grants are a type of grant that must be awarded to each eligible applicant (generally a government entity) based on the conditions defined in the authorizing statute. Must be awarded? Authorizing statute? What does all that mean?
Let’s break it down by looking at the life of a mandatory grant:
- A bill is passed and signed into law.
- This new law defines the: (1) purpose of a grant program, (2) the minimum eligibility and qualifications for applicants to receive the grant, and (3) often the amount of the grant. This is the “authorizing statute.”
- This authorizing statute also requires a particular federal agency to administer the grant program. “Administer” refers to the full grant lifecycle—from posting the solicitation to awarding the grant to closeout.
- Any entity that applies and meets the minimum eligibility requirements must be awarded the grant from the federal agency. This is much different than discretionary grants, which are awarded on a competitive basis.
At this point, you’re probably thinking something like, “Sounds great! Where do I get one of those mandatory grants?!” Well, you can find them on Grants.gov, but eligibility depends on the specific grant program. Plus, mandatory grants are generally for other levels of government, such as a state or county governments.
You may be more familiar with the terms block grant or formula grant. These can be types of mandatory grants in that based on the eligibility, qualifications, or formula in the authorizing statute, the federal agency must award the grant.
Don’t worry though, if you work with a non-governmental entity (e.g., a nonprofit or small business), you may eventually receive this grant via pass-through funding. How? Depending on the grant program, the state or local government may use the mandatory grant funding to issue subawards to local entities to accomplish the purpose of the grant. For example, building a road or providing public education.
In the process of answering, “What is a mandatory grant?,” we’ve also mentioned block grants, formula grants, and subawards. This is precisely why we’ve started the What Is… series. The federal grants world is complex, so we have set out to make it easier to understand. You don’t want to miss the rest of this series. Subscribe to the blog now.