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Funding agencies are organizations that provides grants, scholarships, or other forms of support to programs, projects, and individuals in a specific area. Funding agencies may be non-profit organizations, private foundations, or government offices. The goal of a funding agency is usually to promote excellence or encourage interest in a particular subject, such as alternative energy, the environment, social works, or medical innovations. Finding appropriate funding agencies for a particular project is usually easily done through a simple Internet search; many websites provide extensive lists of funding possibilities by subject.
The type of funding an agency provides depends largely on its stated goals and missions. Many non-profit organizations and private foundations offer scholarships, which provide funding for students. Scholarships may be based on individual merit, financial need, excellence in a particular area, or personal characteristics. In some cases, foundations may provide scholarships to students from a particular ethnic, national, or religious background, or to those who are underrepresented in the academic world. Scholarships from funding agencies may be available to students at a particular educational institution, or may be open to any student at a certain level of education, such as graduating high school seniors.
Funding agencies may also be geared toward promoting study, innovation, or excellence in a particular area. Grants are often provided to groups or individuals that can demonstrate a need for funding for a project in line with the goals of the particular funding group. A foundation dedicated to gang prevention and awareness, for instance, might provide a grant to a local group that wants to set up after-school programs for at-risk middle school students. A non-profit organization with a mission of eliminating cancer might provide funding to a medical clinic that wants to offer free cervical and breast cancer screening to women in a poverty-stricken area. Similarly, the same organization might provide funds to a medical team that wants to conduct research on a new cancer-fighting drug.
Governments often serve as enormous funding agencies, providing funds for projects and initiatives in dozens of areas that might benefit the region or even country as a whole. To find information about funding possibilities, check with any government department that seems closely related with the aims of a particular project. An initiative to create jobs to provide environmental cleanup on the lands surrounding Native American reservations, for instance, might be able to apply for funding in the United States from the Department of Labor, Department of the Interior, and the Environmental Protection Agency.