Nothing to Stress Over – Lupus Grants, Proposals and Surprise Wedding Raise Awareness 

The pressure of planning a wedding would be too much for Nicole Carfagna, who suffers from lupus, a chronic condition brought on by stress. So, her groom handled all the arrangements for her.

Danny Rios spent months secretly planning the entire ceremony, then, out-of-the-blue, proposed to Carfagna when the couple returned home to New York from a December trip to Disney World. In the ensuing span of less than two hours that culminated in a surprise backyard wedding ceremony, Rios and Carfagna went on to become husband and wife – just one day after the bride had celebrated her birthday.

Quite a euphoric slew of events for any bride, let alone Nicole Rios, who was diagnosed six years ago with Lupus, an incurable inflammatory disease that turns the body’s immune system against itself. Since then, she has had to manage joint pain, dizziness, fatigue and inflammation of her lungs and heart when she is exacerbated with stress.

The Lupus Foundations reports some 1.5 million Americans like Nicole Rios live with the disease today. Women of child-bearing age and minorities are most prone to lupus.

That’s why grants that aim to reduce lupus-related health disparities and increase participation among racial and minority populations in clinical trials are of growing significance. One funding opportunity from the National Lupus Training, Outreach, and Clinical Trial Education Program is listed on GrantWatch and administered by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of, said corporations also have stepped up funding for lupus and other medical conditions that have been affected by freezes on federal research money.

Lupus is an autoimmune disease, which means the body cannot differentiate between its own healthy tissue and foreign invaders. The antibodies or blood-borne proteins responsible for deciding biological friend from foe cause inflammation in various parts of the body.

In its early stages, lupus is difficult to detect and looks like many other conditions, said Gary Gilkeson, associate dean at the Medical University of South Carolina and chairman of the Lupus Foundation of America’s medical-scientific advisory committee. But, problems tend to flare up and abate over time. Singer Selena Gomez, who appeared to be the picture of radiant health during public appearances, shocked her fans last year when she received a kidney transplant because of lupus.

Danny Rios knew Lupus would prevent Nicole from planning a wedding. So, he put all the plans together himself. That meant picking out a suit and a wedding dress for Nicole. He even had Nicole’s father ordained, so he could officiate the ceremony among friends who were given an advance heads-up to meet in the backyard.

All Nicole had to do, when Danny Rios got down on a knee and proposed that night, was say, “yes.”

Nonprofits, public and private foundations find government and foundation research and education grants on New grants are added daily. Sign-up here to receive the GrantWatch weekly grants newsletter prepared for your organization's location.

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Grassroots Organization Evolves from Girls’ Night Out to Nonprofit Dedicated to Women’s Causes

When word got around that a woman in the community could no longer afford to pay for diapers, Jenelle Lefief and her girlfriends weren’t about to let the distraught mother use plastic bags as an alternative. Their decision to pool their resources and present the woman with the diapers she desperately needed served as a catalyst to do more.

That’s the motivation behind “Phoemale,” a grassroots nonprofit in Gross Pointe, Mich., that has evolved from regular girls’ nights out into a full-fledged charitable organization dedicated to helping women who have overcome domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, and homelessness.

Phoemale – pronounced FEE-male — works with other nonprofit agencies including Wayne County SAFE, Turning Point and Cass Community Social Services to provide the unconventional support that might otherwise not be eligible for grant funding to help women rebuild their lives. The girlfriends have raised four times as much money from a year ago, when the group held events in Lefief’s home.

In one year since incorporating, Phoemale has financed mental health counseling; purchased a car that enabled a survivor of sexual assault to secure a job and support her children; paid off the debt of a domestic violence victim so she could move to a home where her abuser couldn’t locate her; and donated a refrigerator to a woman who had her appliance stolen by her abuser.

Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of, said establishing a nonprofit is an ideal way to help others in the community who are in need. The first step before creating a nonprofit, she said, is to determine that the proposed new 501c3 organization will not be duplicating the efforts of an existing organization. Incorporating with the IRS will formalize programs and services and provide credibility for the organization. Filings and fees will vary by state.

Phoemale is a registered 501c3 nonprofit, which means the organization is tax exempt under IRS codes. The all-volunteer group claims 100 percent of the money raised at Phoemale events is used to help women and not to pay overhead, salaries, or other expenses. As a 501c3 nonprofit, Phoemale is now eligible for grants for their women's organization and can review eligibility and full details of grants on

In addition to raising funds for community nonprofits, the 12-member board of Phoemale performs volunteer work and hosts social and networking events. Lefief said meetings are limited to board members, but she expects the group to host general membership events later this year.

“We’re getting together, doing fun activities, supporting women and helping at least one woman build her life back up,” she said. “We know we’re lucky. We have family and friends and each other. But, how many women out there don’t have that? So, we’re spreading that love and support.”

Nonprofits, public and private foundations find government and foundation grants on New grants are added daily. Sign-up here to receive the GrantWatch weekly grants newsletter prepared for your organization's location.

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Report: Nonprofit CBOs Struggle to Provide Human Services with Limited Government Resources

From suicide and financial distress to homelessness and domestic abuse, the pleas for help never seem to cease. Even on weekends and holidays or evening hours when other hotlines across the state are closed, crisis calls continue to flood Impact Inc., a nonprofit help center that operates 24/7, 365 days a year in a former factory in West Allis, Wisconsin.

John Hyatt, the chief executive at Impact. Inc., said the state of his organization, in many ways, is as precarious as those lives it serves. Impact Inc., he said, struggles to break even.

His concerns are likely to draw an emphatic ear from leaders at tens of thousands of nonprofits across the country that are struggling to stay afloat.

“A significant portion of human service CBOs are feeling financial stress and may find it difficult to survive even short-term disruptions to funding or unexpected expenses,” according to a new report, “A National Imperative: Joining Forces to Strengthen Human Services in America.”

Community-based organizations like Impact Inc., in large part, rely on government grants to deliver vital human services to an estimated one in five Americans. Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of the funding resource website, said nonprofits do amazing work, despite the current financial climate, by improving healthcare outcomes, reducing related costs, and addressing social factors that affect healthy lifestyles.

It’s not that those roles go unnoticed, she said. Hundreds of grants that support human services in all parts of the country are posted on But, Hikind said, rising costs and increased demand has made the application process more competitive for those seeking funds.

Among the findings in the 157-page document, commissioned by a pair of national associations that represent human-service nonprofits:

  • Nearly half of the community-based organizations studied in the report run persistent operating deficits, often because government agencies “chronically reimburse them less than the full cost of the programs and services." 
  • Nearly one in three have minimal financial reserves, making them vulnerable to the next downturn or funding fluctuation.
  • More than 40 percent lack liquidity to meet immediate obligations.
  • Nearly one in eight meet the technical definition of insolvent.
  • Nonprofits that help with housing and mental health feel the most acute financial stress.

To compensate for shortfalls in government homelessness spending, Hikind said nonprofits also turn to GrantWatch to identify private foundations and philanthropists. The report, however, said those dollars often come with strings attached as private funders place restrictions on donations to ensure their money goes toward causes and activities they care most about.

Demands for social services, meanwhile, are increasing. Against this backdrop, the report said, incomes have been stagnant since the 1970s, a new epidemic of opioid drug addiction is raging across the nation and the U.S. suicide rate has increased to its highest rate in 30 years.

Nonprofits, public and private foundations find government and foundation grants for human servics and homelessness on New grants are added daily.  Sign-up here to receive the GrantWatch weekly grants newsletter prepared for your organization's location.


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Pushing the 501(c)3 Envelope: Nonprofit Formed to Boost Image of Arizona Public Schools System

Images of teachers in a classroom and students huddled around computers are designed to paint a pretty picture of the Arizona state’s public schools system. The cheerful 30-second advertisement on television and across the internet are paid for by a newly formed nonprofit corporation called the Arizona Education Project.

Matthew Benson, a spokesperson for the 501(c)3 nonprofit group, said the ads are not tied to any political candidate or legislative effort but are instead intended to counter the narrative set by critics who question the commitment of state leaders to fund public education.

Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of the nonprofit funding resource said, "Any investment in education must be combined with accountability.  Grants for education usually include an evaluation component, to prove the project or program did in fact make a difference and would be replicable in another location with a similar target audience. 

Nonprofits are typically identified with charitable organizations. The IRS recognizes 27 types of nonprofit organizations including educational associations. In general, nonprofits are formed to serve the public in some way and, as a result, they receive special benefits and tax breaks from the state. Eligibility requirements vary by state.

According to the IRS, 501c(3) organizations that qualify for tax credits at the state level may not always be eligible for exemptions and benefits from the federal government. Not all nonprofits are 501(c)3 registered with the IRS as tax-exempt by virtue of their charitable programs. Nonprofit simply means the entity, usually, a corporation is organized for a nonprofit purpose.

Except for the tax burdens, nonprofits operate much like traditional corporations. They are supported by the sale of their goods and services, charitable donations, and grants from other nonprofits including federal and state agencies and public and private corporations and foundations.

Donors to the Arizona Education Project include some heavy hitters in support of public schools, such as the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Hispanic Chambers from Tucson, Douglas, Sierra Vista and Nogales. Money also is coming from the Arizona Lodging and Tourism Association and the Services Group of America, a private firm involved in food distribution. Other donors include Pinnacle West Capital Corp. which owns Arizona Public Service Co., the state’s largest electric utility.

The Arizona Education Project has spent a portion of this support on a website and the local TV, cable and digital ads that outline positive aspects of Arizona’s K-12 system. Spending on Arizona schools plummeted during the Great Recession, and the state has yet to return to the levels before the economy tanked. Arizona schools also rank among the lowest in the nation for teacher pay.

Benson said, the group’s “message is pretty simple: Arizona schools aren’t perfect, but we’re making a lot of progress and too often in the current climate, that gets lost.”

Nonprofits, public and private foundations can find grants for education on GrantWatch.

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GrantWatch Unveils New Website to Enhance Grant Searching Process

To mark its 8th year of providing daily online access to more than 18,500 funding opportunities, has unveiled a redesigned website that will make searching for grants, awards and contracts that much easier, Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of, announced today.

“Grant-eligible nonprofit organizations no longer have to be overwhelmed by the search process," said Hikind. “GrantWatch eliminates the frustration involved in grant research by providing a powerful, yet, easy-to-use website that narrows the search of thousands of funding opportunities to match the unique needs and interests of any organization seeking financial assistance.”

GrantWatch is not a scam or some simple cut-and-paste database that can be purchased, like a book.

GrantWatch is a continuous, live, integrative search engine for grants and funding opportunities: Past due grants are archived, while new grants are researched and posted daily. GrantWatch posts some 700 new grants each week from federal, state and local agencies, public and private foundations, and corporations. These entries provide summaries and descriptions of each grant including funding source, eligibility requirements, geographic focus, award size, date posted and application URLs. Each grant is researched for validity and translated into a simple format that is easy to read and comprehend.

The newly designed GrantWatch interface has high-recall and precision algorithms that return only those grants relevant to a query while omitting everything that isn’t.

 Each RFP in the comprehensive database is:

  • Written in “presentation quality” for meetings and workshops;
  • Verified for authenticity by the GrantWatch team;
  • And supported via customer service – phone, chat or email. is both a research and management tool. Drop-downs enable users to filter search criteria using keywords and phrases. New features include My Grant Views, which insures any grant viewed previously will not be misplaced, and My Grant Calendar, a personalized planning tool for scheduling grant writing activities. 

My Grants Calendar can also prioritize funding opportunities and and archive others for later reference while monitoring the progress of proposals including approaching deadlines, submissions and awards.

GrantWatch also offers these additional fundraising services:

  • – a free crowdfunding platform featuring more than 100 categories from which nonprofits, small businesses, entrepreneurs and artists can post campaigns;
  • – a one-stop-shop for large and small businesses including minority and women-owned organizations to identify federal, state and local grants;
  • – a resource for identifying professional grant writers to assist in the proposal and application process;
  • – A clearinghouse for the latest information in the grants industry including, trends, opinions and advice.


Nonprofits, public and private foundations, small businesses and entrepreneurs frustrated by the often-overwhelming process involved with searching for grants can identify funding opportunities that are easy to read and simple to comprehend at Sign-up here so you too can receive the GrantWatch weekly grants newsletter prepared specifically for your organization's location.


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Grants to EMS Providers Enable First Responders to Take Their Protection into Their Own Hands

Mounting overdoses in an opioid epidemic. An escalation in assault victims. Dispatches requiring emergency medical services have gotten so intense, volatile and unpredictable that local first-responders in a central Pennsylvania town have decided to take their protection into their own hands.

EMS officials in Yellow Breeches say there was no specific incident, just the need for more safety that prompted the purchase of 15 ballistic vests for first-responders. Yellow Breeches received a $1,000 grant from Walmart to help pay for the vests, which cost roughly $200. The department plans to apply for more grants to cover the remaining costs.

Expectations on EMS providers continue to grow, despite the threat of budget cuts at the local, state and federal levels. Increasingly, the nation’s first responders are turning to alternative solutions and grant funding to address their essential needs.

Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of, said private-sector sources donate thousands of dollars annually to EMS departments for capital purchases or to improve service delivery, especially in rural communities or poor urban areas. A number of these revenue opportunities for EMS systems across the United States – including Florida, Utah, New Mexico, and Colorado — are listed on Many of the funds are made available to EMS units regardless of their clinical sophistication, deployment strategies, performance standards and governance.

EMS organizations often rely on grants to purchase new equipment or enhance volunteer programs that typically fall outside their operating budgets. Big-ticket items, like an equipped ambulance can override a full year’s operating expenses.

Yellow Breeches is one of the first departments in Cumberland County to purchase and utilize bullet-proof vests, underscoring the nationwide trend to purchase more protection for first responders. But, fire rescue crews in Midway, South Carolina, also started using bulletproof vests. The department got the money for the vests from a grant from Georgetown County. Firefighters won’t wear the vests on every call. They will wear the vests on top of their firefighter uniforms on calls that could potentially be dangerous.

Authorities hope they do not have to use the protective gear, but recognize that police officers are no longer the sole targets of aggression at scenes requiring emergency responses. A year ago, an ambulance crew in Selma, Alabama, was met with gunfire as they arrived on scene for a blood pressure check. Fortunately, neither employee was injured. The district attorney who handled the case believed the act was part of a gang initiation ritual.

Government funds were also recently allocated to paramedics and EMS crews in Akron, Ohio, and Stamford, Connecticut, to purchase body armor. The Capital Expenditure Grant from the state of Connecticut will allow Stamford to share the protective equipment with three other cities as needed.

Homeland & National Security Grants: 
Grants to Nonprofits, Faith Based Institutions, Fire Departments, EMS Groups, Law Enforcement, and Emergency Services for Safety & Capacity Building and other Homeland & National Security funding.

Meanwhile, reports vindicating the purchase of bullet-proof vests are beginning to surface. Dani Kamenar, a paramedic, was on a call when a patient attacked her. She was 32 weeks pregnant at the time, but luckily for her and her daughter, Brooklyn, she was wearing body armor. Kamenar, an EMS member for the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Health System, suffered a partial placental abruption, but it could've been worse.

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Once in a Blue Moon: Lunar Oddity Raises Awareness of STEM and STEAM Grants

Any lunar eclipse can usually get kids hyped about the heavens. But how about an event that happens once in a blood moon? That kind of lunar-related oddity has the potential to boost interest in the sky to astronomical levels.

The latest public show – a lunar trifecta of sorts — is set for the pre-dawn hours of Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018. That’s when a total lunar eclipse will coincide with a blue moon to create what is known in astronomy circles as a super blue blood moon.

NASA predicts this rare incident, which occurs during a second full moon in a calendar month, will be bigger and brighter than its predecessor, the first supermoon of 2018, which took place New Year’s Day.

Two blue moons in one month are quite commonplace. In fact, another incident is forecast for March of this year. But, a blue moon that begins the day in “blood” — when faint red sunbeams peek around the edges of the Earth to form a reddish, copper color – that can be special.

Amateur astronomy is a field open to anyone with a vivid imagination. Educators can be forgiven for using the search for constellations and comets as a starting point to generate interest in science, without touching upon physics and mathematics.

Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of the fund-searching platform, said there are plenty of programs at the local and federal levels that have demonstrated a priority for creating a passion and basic curiosity for science among students. She said posts what are called STEM grants that are designed to enhance the teaching and learning of science, technology, engineering, and math. A retired teacher, Hikind, also recommended grants for STEAM, an educational approach that incorporates art into STEM activites, or STEEM, which integrates entrepreneurship: 

Why STEM? Not enough young students are interested in science, creating a vacuum, particularly, among young women. And the demand for workers skilled in STEM subjects is closely linked to the nation’s future global competitiveness.

These concerns for education are why we should all encourage children to set an alarm for before dawn to see what the universe is up to on Wednesday morning. Those that do look to the sky throughout the day will witness a moon that is full, super, "red," "blue" and totally eclipsed. The next chance won’t be for another 19 years.

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Conflict Resolution Grants: Maryland School Leaders Look to Combat Violence

An argument between two 14-year-old girls escalated into a fight, and when one of the students tried to cut the other with a pocketknife, two staff members at Oakland Mills High School were injured.

To prevent recurring acts of violence like this at Oakland Mills and other schools in Howard County, officials are training teachers and students on how to build relationships that will lead to peaceful conflict resolution. Educators believe that teaching students how to resolve conflicts and sustain healthy relationships with their peers can help to reduce incidents of violence and criminal mischief.

Kevin Gilbert, director of diversity, equity and inclusion for the Howard County public school system, said his office is working to expand relationship-building skills, known as restorative justice practices, and train staff at more schools.

Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of, said grants that foster dialogue aim to make those practices in conflict resolution a reality.

“Education and training are just as important for educators and administrators as they are for parents and community members,” she said. “When presented effectively, programs in conflict resolution can help to create safe and healthy environments where students learn how to effectively handle their own problems.” lists online the available conflict resolution funding opportunities for nonprofit organizations, public schools, and government agencies for educational, health, community, youth, and adult programs to learn how to diffuse situations and promote social and emotional development in their communities.

Hikind said that grant money can be used to start a conflict resolution program, hire individuals to manage a project, provide training or to resolve specific incidents and concerns.

The Howard County Education Association is currently writing a grant to the National Education Association to continue to incorporate conflict resolution methodologies into the school system.

Colleen Morris, HCEA president, said the teacher’s union has worked with the school system, NEA and the Community Justice for Youth Institute in Chicago to offer “peace circle training” for educators and administrators as well as parents and community members.

The school system and teacher’s union held a four-day training session last year with seven county schools. Morris said the training focused on creating “peace circles” — those opportunities that bring the victim and offender together — and how they can improve school climate.

“The emphasis in the training was on how the implementation of peace circles can build trust, promote social and emotional well-being and facilitate harmonious relationships,” said Morris. “Just like teaching academic subjects requires planning, preparation and knowledge of students, peace-circle implementation relies on well-trained facilitators to ensure a safe learning environment is created.”

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Affordable Housing Grants to Strengthen Economic Development in Downtown Greenville

Business is booming, but for many of the employees at the hotels and restaurants that line Main Street in Greenville, S.C., living downtown is simply too expensive.

That’s why the city plans to invest $2 million from Greenville’s surplus General Fund toward affordable housing. Some of that money will enable nonprofit organizations to develop initiatives that will curb the negative effects of gentrification, a term used to describe when cities like Greenville develop blighted neighborhoods, but ultimately drive property values up and lower-income people out of homes they have often lived in for decades.

City leaders want to encourage a “live-work” environment supported by a mix of housing types reflecting a variety of levels including housing opportunities for low- to moderate-income families. This commitment is reinforced in a RFP for nonprofits to develop or construct affordable housing within designated areas of Greenville. The grant opportunity is listed here along with other affordable housing proposal requests on

Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of, said Greenville can use land the city already owns to partner with nonprofit organizations and private developers to build affordable housing.

Greenville ranks as the fourth fastest-growing city in the nation. For decades, the city had been unsuccessful in attempts to grow its population and recover from suburban flight began in the 1960s. Meanwhile, steady investments in infrastructure, such as a new city park planned west of downtown, has accumulated surpluses in tax revenues were set aside to accommodate future growth in the population.

But, with a population of some 68,000, an increase of nearly 3,000 in just one year, the Greenville Housing Authority claims the city falls short by some 3,000 affordable housing units.

Affordable housing studies show that a single parent with one child wishing to rent a home in Greenville County for $729 a month would need to earn $20.86 an hour. However, Greenville businesses are dependent on employing construction workers, retailers, and cashiers who make either minimum wage or a little bit above.

The Greenville Housing Authority says the number of property owners who typically rent out to affordable housing organizations has been dwindling over the years because landlords have decided they can get more money by renting to people at market price.

Alex Darrington, a chef at Limoncello, one of two new restaurants to open in Greenville, says downtown is where people in the restaurant business want to work, but where few can afford housing. Restaurant owners say the lack of public transportation has made staffing their restaurants with busboys, prep cooks and dishwashers that much more difficult.

The city wants to target affordable units to people making $15,000 or less and paying more than 50-60 percent of their income on housing.

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Failure to Secure Grant Leads to Closing of Indiana Nonprofit Health Clinic for Children

When a family member got pregnant and didn’t have health insurance, a sister, cousin or aunt would recommend “the clinic.”

Now, after failing to secure grant funding from the Indiana State Department of Health for the first time since 1979, the Maternal Child Health Clinic in Gary, Indiana, will close at the end of the year. Following more than four decades of service, the staff of five — director, program director, registered nurse, medical assistant and social worker – will be let go.  Uninsured, underinsured women and children in Gary will be forced to look elsewhere for healthcare services.

Shirley Borom, the clinic’s director, said since August when the state grant fell through, the nonprofit clinic tried unsuccessfully to secure other forms of funding.

The nonprofit clinic provided physicals for children including immunizations and screenings for hearing, vision and anemia, as well as OB-GYN services. The social worker helped enroll residents in insurance and get patients to appointments.

Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of GrantWatch, said it’s not unusual for grant providers to change their priorities, as well as their recipients, if they’ve been the same for years. Most importantly when you rely on grant funds for your operation, you must diversify.  Organizations should never be complacent in their funding and programming – they should continuously seek out new funding sources to support existing and new much needed programs. 

Mental Health America of Lake County, the applicant that will receive the Early Start grant that was lost to Maternal Child Health, offers a broader scope of services including child injury prevention, smoking cessation, home visiting and safe sleep education.

Since 1976, the Gary clinic had received state grants to provide healthcare access to low-income children at its Children and Youth Clinic. Services expanded in 1991 to address infant mortality rates when the clinic adopted its current name.

According to the Alliance for Advancing Nonprofit Healthcare, about 60 percent of community hospitals are nonprofit, all community health centers are nonprofit, almost 30 percent of nursing homes are nonprofit, and about 17 percent of home health care agencies are estimated to be nonprofit.

Hikind said nonprofits play an important role in the delivery of healthcare services in the United States. She encourages those organizations and corporations that rely on grants and are looking for new funding sources to visit, where they will find grants for programs that foster innovation and improvements including children's health and development, school readiness, and support for families.

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