Office of National Drug Control Policy

Information for Applicants

Grant Cycle and Timeline

The DFC program operates on the same timeline each year.  ONDCP and SAMHSA post a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) each year in January.  Applications are due 60 days after the FOA posting date (March).  During the open season, the FOA can be found at,, and this website. 

Drug-Free Communities Support Program Grant Cycle

Once applications are received, they go through two screening processes.  The first is related to formatting and other requirements for grants from SAMHSA. The second screening process is to ensure that each applicant is eligible to receive DFC funding.  The statutory eligibility requirements are checked by both ONDCP and SAMHSA.  If an application passes both screening processes, it goes to peer review.  If it does not, the applicant will receive a letter indicating they were screened out by SAMHSA in the first review for not meeting formatting or other requirements (i.e., past the deadline, exceeded Project Narrative page limits, etc.).  If an applicant does not meet all of the statutory eligibility requirements, the second level of review, a letter will be sent via express delivery indicating which requirements were not met.  All correspondence for applications will be sent to the individual listed as the Business Official on the application. 

The DFC program’s peer review pool is comprised of current and former DFC grantees.  Each application is assigned to a panel of three peer reviewers for scoring.  The composite of the three scores becomes the application’s final score.  These final scores are ranked from the highest to the lowest and sent to ONDCP for review.  Upon full completion of all screening processes and review of final scores, ONDCP begins funding with the highest scoring grant until all funds are exhausted.

ONDCP and SAMHSA begin seeking peer reviewers in February of each year.  Peer reviewers are recruited in two ways: a workshop at Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America's (CADCA) National Leadership Forum and through webinars (information will be posted to this website when recruitment is live).  All peer reviewers are trained and chosen by mid-May of each year.

In late August, the DFC program announces grant awards in two ways.  The first is through Congressional leaders.  ONDCP provides notice to members of Congress 48 hours prior to public posting of grantees on this website.  Then, the names of the grantees are posted to this website and grantees can check to see if their name is listed.

Once new awards are announced, grantees should contact CADCA’s National Coalition Institute (800-542-2322, ext 225) to enroll in the National Coalition Academy.  A mandatory New Grantee Meeting is always held in Washington, DC in the first half of December to acquaint new grantees with their Federal support and with the program’s expectations.

New Applicant Workshops

Potential applicants, those applying for the first time (Year One), current grantees applying for a second cycle of five years of funding (Year Six), or former grantees who experienced a lapse in funding during a five-year cycle, are encouraged to attend a new applicant workshop.

Dates for FY2015 DFC Grant applicants will be announced in early 2015.

These workshops are not mandatory in order to apply for this grant. These workshops provide technical assistance to help applicants complete their applications. They are not general technical assistance workshops for coalitions. Attendees must read this FOA in advance and come prepared to ask questions related to the completion of an application. After each workshop, a question and answer session will be held to specifically address applicants working with American Indian/Alaska Native communities.

Statutory Eligibility Requirements

All DFC applications will be jointly screened by ONDCP and SAMHSA to determine whether each applicant meets all the DFC program’s statutory eligibility requirements. In addition, the status of the grantee organization will be verified along with its ability to fiscally manage Federal funds. Applications submitted by eligible coalitions that meet all requirements will then be scored through a peer review process according to the evaluation criteria described in the Funding Opportunity Announcement.   Each year of funding, DFC grantees must demonstrate compliance with all of the statutory eligibility requirements to be considered for continued funding. rr

Statutory eligibility requirements, written into the DFC Act, are inherent in the DFC program. Failure to meet any single eligibility requirement will cause an application to be deemed ineligible and the application will not move forward to peer review. Should your application fail to meet the eligibility requirements, the person listed as the contact person on the Application for Federal Assistance will receive a letter stating why the application was deemed ineligible. Final authority lies with the DFC Administrator to determine the eligibility of an applicant.

Eligibility Requirement Item:
Requirement 1: 12 Sectors
The coalition must consist of one or more representatives from each of the following required 12 sectors:
  • Youth (18 or younger)
  • Parent
  • Business
  • Media
  • School
  • Youth-serving organization
  • Law enforcement
  • Religious/Fraternal organization
  • Civic/Volunteer groups (i.e., local organizations committed to volunteering, not a coalition member designated as a “volunteer”)
  • Healthcare professional
  • State, local, or tribal governmental agency with expertise in the field of substance abuse (including, if applicable, the State agency with primary authority for substance abuse)
  • Other organization involved in reducing substance abuse

(21 USC 1531 §1032 (a)(2)(A))
An individual who is a member of the coalition may serve on the coalition as a representative of not more than one sector category.
(21 USC 1531 §1032 (a)(2)(C))

Requirement 2: Six Month Existence

The coalition must demonstrate that members have worked together on substance abuse reduction initiatives for a period of not less than 6 months at the time of the application, acting through entities such as task forces, subcommittees, or community boards.

(21 USC 1531 §1032 (a)(3)(A))
The coalition must also demonstrate substantial participation from volunteer leaders in the community.
(21 USC 1531 §1032 (a)(3)(B))

Requirement 3: Mission Statement

The coalition must have as its principal mission the reduction of youth substance use, which, at a minimum, includes the use and abuse of drugs in a comprehensive and long-term manner, with a primary focus on youth in the community. (21 USC 1531 §1032 (a)(3)(B)(4)(A)

Requirement 4: Multiple Drugs of Abuse

The coalition must have developed an Action Plan to reduce substance use among youth which targets multiple drugs of abuse.

Substances may include, but are not limited to, narcotics, depressants, stimulants, hallucinogens, inhalants, marijuana, alcohol, and tobacco, where their use is prohibited by federal, state, or local law. (21 USC 1531 §1032 (a)(4)(D))

Requirement 5: DFC National Evaluation Requirement

The coalition must establish a system to measure and report outcomes, established and approved by the DFC Administrator, to the federal government. (21 USC 1531 §1032 (a)(5)(A))

Requirement 6: Entity Eligible to Receive Federal Grants

The applicant must demonstrate that the coalition is an ongoing concern by demonstrating that the coalition is a non-profit organization or has made arrangements with a legal entity that is eligible to receive federal grants.
(21 USC 1531 §1032 (a)(5)(A))

Organizations eligible to receive federal funds as DFC grantees must be legally recognized domestic public or private nonprofit entities. For example, state and local governments; federally recognized tribes; state recognized tribes; urban Indian organizations (as defined in P.L. 94-437, as amended); public or private universities and colleges; professional associations, voluntary organizations, self-help groups, consumer and provider services-oriented constituency groups; community- and faith-based organizations; and tribal organizations.

Grantee Financial Management Requirements:

Federal regulations governing SAMHSA grants (45 CFR Part 75) provide standards for financial management systems of grantee organizations. To determine whether grantees have financial management systems that conform to those standards, SAMHSA’s Office of Financial Advisory Services (OFAS) perform Financial Capability Reviews of new or prospective grantees. If needed, OFAS will request that the grantee take necessary corrective action to conform to the financial management standards. For more information, go to

Requirement 7: Substantial Support from Non- Federal Sources
The coalition must have a strategy to solicit substantial financial support from non-Federal sources to ensure that the coalition is self-sustaining. (21 U.S.C 1531 §1032 (a)(5)(C)) & (21 U.S.C 1531 §1032 (b)(1)(A)(i))
Requirement 8: Federal Request
The applicant must not request more than $125,000 in federal funds per year (PL 109-469 §803)
Requirement 9: Zip Code Overlap
Two coalitions may not serve the same zip code(s) unless both coalitions have clearly described their plan for collaboration in their applications and each coalition has independently met the eligibility requirements.
(21 USC 1531 §1032 (a)(5)(C))
Requirement 10: One grant at a time funding

Grantees/coalitions may be awarded only one grant at a time through the DFC Support Program.

Requirement 11: No more than 10 years of DFC funding

Coalitions may not receive more than 10 years of DFC funding to apply for this grant.

Environmental Prevention Strategies

Environmental strategies are based on evidence that substance abuse is a product of multiple environmental conditions and circumstances. Environmental strategies incorporate prevention efforts aimed at changing or influencing community conditions, standards, institutions, structures, systems, and policies. More specifically, environmental strategies seek to: (1) limit access to substances; (2) change the culture and context within which decisions about substance use are made; and/or (3) shift the consequences associated with youth substance use. Examples can be found in the table below. 

Today, ample evidence exists that well-conceived and implemented policies—local, state, and national—can reduce community-level alcohol, tobacco, and other drug problems. Environmentally-based approaches reach entire populations and reduce collective risk, making them cost effective prevention strategies. Applicants should be mindful that the DFC program requires the planning and implementation of environmental strategies as part of their comprehensive efforts to reduce youth substance use.

Environmental Strategy Description
Enhance Access/Reduce Barriers Improving systems/processes to increase the ease, ability, and opportunity to utilize those systems and services (e.g., assuring transportation, housing, education, safety, and cultural sensitivity) in prevention initiatives.
Reduce Access/Enhance Barriers Improving systems/processes to decrease the ease, ability, and opportunity for youth to access substances (e.g., raising the price of single-serve cans of alcohol, implementing retail alcohol/tobacco compliance checks).
Change Consequences (Incentives/Disincentives) Increasing or decreasing the probability of a behavior by altering the consequences for performing that behavior (e.g., increasing taxes, citations, and fines; revocation/loss of driver’s license).
Physical Design Changing the physical design of the environment to reduce risk or enhance protection (e.g., re-routing foot/car traffic, adjusting park hours, alcohol/tobacco outlet density). Note: DFC Federal funds cannot support landscape and lighting projects. As such, costs for these projects cannot be used as match.
Modify/Change Policies Formal change in written procedures, by-laws, proclamations, rules, or laws (e.g., workplace initiatives, law enforcement procedures and practices, public policy actions, systems change). Note: Lobbying with Federal dollars is not permitted. As such, costs for lobbying cannot be used as match.

Restrictions on Recipient Lobbying

RESTRICTIONS ON RECIPIENT LOBBYING: (c) Title 18 > Part I > Chapter 93 > Section 1913: No part of the money appropriated by any enactment of Congress shall, in the absence of express authorization by Congress, be used directly or indirectly to pay for any personal service, advertisement, telegram, telephone, letter, printed or written matter, or other device, intended or designed to influence in any manner a Member of Congress, a jurisdiction, or an official of any government, to favor, adopt, or oppose, by vote or otherwise, any legislation, law, ratification, policy, or appropriation, whether before or after the introduction of any bill, measure, or resolution proposing such legislation, law, ratification, policy, or appropriation; but this shall not prevent officers or employees of the United States or of its departments or agencies from communicating to any such Member or official, at his/her request, or to Congress or such official, through the proper official channels, requests for any legislation, law, ratification, policy, or appropriations which they deem necessary for the efficient conduct of the public business, or from making any communication whose prohibition by this section might, in the opinion of the Attorney General, violate the Constitution or interfere with the conduct of foreign policy, counter-intelligence, intelligence, or national security activities. Violations of this section shall constitute as a violation of section 1352 (a) of title 31.

How to Apply for a DFC Grant

The DFC program posts the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) in January of each year.  Potential applicants can find the DFC FOA at, and on the ONDCP website.  It is imperative that applicants use the correct FOA when applying.  FOAs can look similar, but the DFC FOA changes each year, so check the cover page to ensure that you are using the correct FOA.  We do not recommend reading or using previously submitted and/or funded applications, as this can confuse FOA versions. 

In addition to the FOA, ONDCP posts multiple technical assistance aids for the FOA to include videos and Frequently Asked Questions to assist potential applications in completing their application.  Listed within the FOA will also be the sites for live workshops on the FOA, but what is available online is the exact product in the live workshops (without the Question and Answer sessions, but we take the most frequently asked questions in the workshops and post that to the website).

Applicants must follow the FOA as it is written and in its entirety.  The FOA is typically comprised of specific parts:  Community Overview (one page, not scored), Project Narrative (scored, has a page limit), Budget/Budget Narrative (scored, has a page limit) and the Attachments (not scored, Statutory Eligibility Requirement evidence).  All parts must be included in your application as outlined in the FOA.

We recommend that applicants use caution when uploading documents to  The system is not customized for the purposes of all the attachments that the DFC FOA requires and there have been instances where DFC applications were deemed ineligible in initial screening because not all of the parts of the application arrived when submitted on  Until a new system is completed which supports the specifics of the DFC FOA, we recommend that applicants submit their application using the paper method.

Get your application in on time.  You can begin to collect the Statutory eligibility requirements today.  Do not depend on overnight delivery of your application.  Send it about a week in advance of the posted due date.  If it is late, it will be deemed ineligible.

Within 30 days of submitting your application, the individual listed as the Business Official will receive notification from SAMSHA that your application has been received.  If you do not receive this notification, contact Cynthia Riddick at

National Coalition Academy

Year 1 DFC grantees are expected to budget and send two people to the National Coalition Academy (NCA). One person must be the same all three weeks and should be the person in charge of the daily operations of the coalition. The second person can vary each week

This requirement does not apply to coalitions that have already attended the NCA, however these coalitions may choose to send additional coalition staff or coalition members.

Mentee coalitions that are being mentored for the full two-year term are required to enroll in the NCA at some point during their mentoring grant.

It is highly recommended that grantees contact the National Coalition Institute immediately after being awarded a DFC or DFC Mentoring grant by calling 703-706-0560, ext. 224 or via email  More information on the NCA can be found by clicking here.