The Award Lifecycle

Find Funding by Type of Sponsor

Successful proposal writers know that, in addition to having a rigorous research plan, it is also essential to apply to a sponsor and a competition that are a good match for the proposed project. Identifying sponsors interested in the general topic area of your work is essential, but you will also want to know that potential sponsors:

  • have identified a specific need or problem that your project will address
  • support the type of project you are proposing – research, program, service, instruction or training, etc.
  • make awards to public universities
  • support projects in the geographic area where your project will be conducted
  • typically make awards within the budget range you are proposing.

We offer instructions to locate funding in three main categories:

Federal is the central portal for funding opportunities from the 26 federal grant-making agencies. At the site, select "Find Grant Opportunities." See additional instructions available under Core Databases at the right.

RSS feeds: Most federal agencies have RSS feeds; subscribing to these feeds allows an investigator to be current with specific funding opportunity notices. These notices are updated daily, and links to the RSS feeds are available on agency websites. also has RSS feeds available to filter for specific federal agencies.
Use or bookmark this link to view federal opportunities by agency.  
Use or bookmark this link to view federal opportunities by category. You can select from categories such as arts, education, energy, environment, health, humanities or science and technology. 

Listservs: Most agencies have listservs which will email funding notices and news, typically on a weekly basis. Subscription details are on agency websites as well.

Social Media: Check the agency website for Facebook and Twitter links.  Increasingly, agencies are participating in social media and are posting funding announcements, research announcements, and other news to these venues.

Additional ways to stay up-to-date with specific Federal agency notices:

The following federal agencies have listservs and/or RSS feeds so that you can stay up-to-date on their funding announcements. This is not an exhaustive list; if you are interested in funding notices from a specific agency, check their website or ask your Research Development Specialist for assistance.

Biweekly Administrator’s newsletter for research, extension, and education partners at land-grant and other cooperating institutions. Click on the RSS feed button and choose which feeds you would like to see.

Department of Education
The U.S. Department of Education (USED) provides a web page, Twitter feed, facebook page, and RSS feed for grant opportunities. Their Grants Forecast [] is also a valuable tool to stay up-to-date with upcoming notices.

Environmental Protection Agency National Center for Environmental Research
The National Center for Environmental Research (NCER) sends email to subscribers announcing new grant and or funding opportunities or newsworthy items regarding NCER-Funded research.

The NASA Acquisition Internet Service (NAIS) provides email notifications on NASA acquisition opportunities in relevant areas of interest.

National Institutes of Health
The NIH Office of Extramural Research offers the NIH Guide Listserv, an email service with funding notices. It is available weekly with links to each RFA, PA, and Notice published for that week.

National Science Foundation
When you subscribe to the National Science Foundation Update service, you will receive an email message each time new content is added to the NSF website in the categories you select. NSF also provides an RSS feed for funding information.

State of Illinois

Most State agencies list RFPs on their website. The Grant Forward database also includes select State of Illinois funding notices.  See Core Databases for instructions.
The following is a limited list of state agencies with links directly to their grants or RFP pages:

Private Foundations

Finding Funding Databases

The Foundation Directory, though, is the principal database for this funding source.  Instructions for using the Foundation Directory are located under Core Databases at the right. The Foundation Directory is available for use in Founders Memorial Library; see the Reference Librarian for access.  

The Foundation Center also offers a Foundation Finder search for limited access to foundations.

Types of Foundations

Private and community foundations are also sources of funding support. Many foundations are large and have a sizeable support and program staff; others have very small staffs. Foundations are generally very clear about their areas of interest, whether research or program. It is thus very important to read and follow all of their guidance carefully. Applicants should have innovative ideas and must carefully target those foundations most likely to be interested in the project topic. Most foundations restrict their grant-making to specific fields and geographic areas of interest.

Foundations can be categorized in various ways; the categories mentioned here are not mutually exclusive. National foundations, such as the Ford Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation, have highly competitive grants programs and are not limited to any geographical area in their grant support. Special interest foundations restrict their grants to programs within a single field. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, for example, funds only health projects; the Joseph P. Kennedy Foundation supports research on mental retardation. Corporate foundations prefer projects that benefit company employees or the corporate interest as well as the larger community. Family foundations, which constitute the largest number of private foundations, often are restricted in geographical area and usually make grants for projects in areas of family interest. Finally, community foundations are public organizations serving a specific geographical area. A local example is the DeKalb County Community Foundation.