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Date last updated: Tuesday, April 29, 8:40 PST

Sweat the Small Stuff

By Brandon Johnson

For the majority of fire and EMS departments in the United States, the weeks and months subsequent to the Assistance to Firefighters Grant are looked upon as the grant "off-season." Unlike the NFL, the grant super bowl is played at the beginning of the season. But for the assiduous grant writer, the regular season of grant opportunities still lay ahead.

Each year, thousands of departments nationwide dedicate hours upon hours researching, writing, and honing their departments' AFG application with the hope that their extra effort will pay huge dividends. While it's true a "super bowl" victory is extraordinarily sweet, I submit to you that it's the season on the whole which defines a successful grant year.

When it comes to fire and EMS grant writing, it's OK to sweat the small stuff. In fact I would encourage you to do just that. I am not speaking of those insignificant little annoyances that creep into your day from time to time. In this case, the "small stuff" is the multitude of local, corporate, and foundation grants that make up the remainder of the fire and EMS grant season.

These smaller opportunities won't provide funding for large capital projects such as new fire apparatus, but for smaller needs they may be just what the doctor ordered. Generally speaking, awards for these types of grants will be less than $15,000 though there are some exceptions. While there are many more grant opportunities out there, here are a few I found worthy of mention. For more on these opportunities, and much more, visit us often at and

Fireman's Fund Heritage Program
Description: The Fireman's Fund Heritage is a national community-based program that provides funds for equipment, fire prevention tools, firefighter training, fire safety education and community emergency response programs. Fireman's Fund employees and agents award grants and provide volunteer support for local fire departments, national firefighter organizations and burn prevention/treatment organizations. Created by Fireman's Fund Insurance Company as its philanthropic mission, the Fireman's Fund Heritage program supports firefighters for safer communities.

Wal-Mart Community Grant/Good Works
Description: The Community Grant Program is the largest program funded by the Wal-Mart and SAM'S CLUB Foundation and includes both matching and direct grants. The Matching Grant program allows local nonprofit organizations to hold fundraisers outside their local Wal-Mart or SAM'S CLUB. Wal-Mart and SAM'S can elect to match a portion of the funds raised up to $1,000.

Events held off the premises of a Wal-Mart store or SAM'S CLUB are also eligible for funding when a Wal-Mart or SAM'S CLUB associate is actively involved in the event. Additionally, once the Wal-Mart or SAM'S CLUB has met certain criteria in the Matching Grant Program each year, a second source of funding, direct grants, is awarded to the store/ club to use in the community. These funds do not require a fundraiser to be held; instead the funds can be awarded directly to a deserving organization.

More than 80,000 grants, totaling $61 million, were awarded through the Community Grant program last year. Additional funds were also raised by participating community organizations who received matching funds.
Organizations that may qualify to receive funding through the Matching Grant Program are 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations or organizations that are exempt from needing 501(c)(3) status, such as public schools, faith-based institutions such as churches (must be conducting a project that benefits the community at large), and government agencies. 

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