What does this program do?
The primary objective of the Socially Disadvantaged Groups Grant program is to provide technical assistance to socially-disadvantaged groups through cooperatives and Cooperative Development Centers. Each fiscal year, applications are requested through a Notice published in the Federal Register and an announcement posted on Grants.gov.
How much funding is available?
Total Funding: $3,000,000
Maximum Grant Amount: $175,000
Application Period: 60 days
Matching Funds Requirement: None
Who may apply for this program?
Cooperatives and Cooperative Development Centers are eligible.
How may funds be used?
Grants must be used to provide technical assistance to socially-disadvantaged groups in rural areas. Examples of technical assistance are:
- Feasibility studies
- Business plans
- Strategic planning
- Leadership training
Note that the cooperative or center can be located in any area, but the groups assisted must be located in an eligible rural area.
How do I get started?
Before you apply:
- Register your organization with the System for Award Management (SAM) if you are not already registered. The registration is free, but you need to complete several steps. It’s a good idea to start the registration process at least a month before any application deadline. Before you start the registration process, we suggest reading through the HELP materials available on the SAM website. Then, you’ll need to create an account. After you create your account by setting up a user ID and password, you can register your organization. The UEI (SAM) is assigned automatically to all active SAM.gov registered entities. Also, make a note of your CAGE (Commercial And Government Entity) code and expiration date because you’ll need those for your application.
- UEI Unique Entity ID - Effective April 4, 2022, USDA will look for the UEI instead of the DUNS from an applicant as the DUNS will no longer be required for recipients of federal financial assistance. The UEI (SAM) is assigned automatically to all active SAM.gov registered entities. To see your UEI please refer to the UEI to locate your UEI. More information about UEI can be found on SAMS.Gov.
You need to read the Federal Register notice for the details on what is needed for an application. Make sure you start putting together the required information at least a month before the application deadline because you will need to provide letters of commitment or support from other organizations, a work plan and budget, and other information that will take you some time to look up or write. You will also need to fill out forms. You can get copies of the forms from your nearest Rural Development office as well as the SDGG Application Template and suggested formats for required information.
NOTE: Eligible applicants are cooperative development centers, individual cooperatives, or groups of cooperatives (i) that serve socially disadvantaged groups and (ii) of which a majority of the board of directors or governing board is comprised of individuals who are members of socially disadvantaged groups.
Who can answer questions?
If you have questions, you can contact your nearest Rural Development office.
Will I need to send any reports if I receive a grant?
If you receive a grant, you will need to send regular financial and performance reports. Your grant agreement will tell you how often you need to send the reports, what forms you need to use, and what information you need to put in the reports.
Where can I get more information about the program?
This program does not have its own regulation, so all of the details about the program are published in a Federal Register notice each year. If the notice has not been published, you can contact your nearest Rural Development office to get a copy of last year’s notice to get an idea of how the application process works. However, there may be changes each year to the application process, so make sure you read the most current notice before you apply.
NOTE: If state-specific forms are not shown above, please refer to the application materials listed below to start the process of applying. Please ensure that your state is selected in the dropdown menu above to find the State Office contact information for this program and speak to a Business Programs Specialist before attempting to fill out any forms or applications. This will save you valuable time in the process.
Scoring Criteria – Returning applicants can score up to 95 points within the elements of technical assistance, work plan/budget, experience, commitment and local support. In the event two projects have the same score; the Administrator may award Administrator Discretionary Points (maximum 10 points) to the applicants that has not received SDGG funds in the past. In addition, Administrator may choose to award points to applications that
- Increase the geographic diversity of socially disadvantaged groups served by approved projects and
- Advance key priorities are addressed on the Rural Development: Key Priorities page.
Satisfactory Performance Eligibility – If you have an existing SDGG award, you must be performing satisfactorily to be considered eligible for a new SDGG award. Satisfactory performance includes being up to date on all financial and performance reports as prescribed in the grant award and being current on tasks and timeframes for utilizing grant and matching funds as approved in the work plan and budget. If applicant have unspent funds on SDGG awards prior to FY2020, their application will not be considered for funding, and if they have 50 percent or more of unspent funds on their FY2021 award at the time their FY2022 application is evaluated, they may not be considered for funding for the FY2022 cycle.
Duplication of Current Services – Applicants must demonstrate that they are providing services to new customers or new services to current customers. If their work plan and budget is duplicative of an existing award (previous or existing RCDG and/or SDGG award), their application will not be considered for funding. Note: prior award applications will be reviewed to ensure there is no duplication.
Preliminary Actions Required
Effective April 4, 2022, USDA will look for the UEI instead of the DUNS from an applicant as the DUNS will no longer be required for recipients of federal financial assistance. To complete an application for this program, you must be pre-registered with the System for Award Management (SAM) and also have a UEI Unique Entity ID number. The UEI (SAM) is assigned automatically to all active SAM.gov registered entities. To see your UEI please refer to the UEI link to locate your UEI. More information about UEI can be found on SAMS.Gov. Neither of these applications cost money, but they can take time so be sure to get this taken care of right away. If you are already registered with these systems, you do not need to do it again.
There are no other additional requirements at the national level. If there are additional state-specific requirements they will be listed above.
Letitia Nichols, Business and Cooperative Program Director
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