Office of National Drug Control Policy

Drug-Free Communities Mentoring Program


Information for Potential Applicants of the DFC Mentoring Program

The primary goal of the Mentoring grant is to assist newly forming coalitions in becoming eligible to apply for DFC funding on their own. It is the intent of the DFC Mentoring Program that, at the end of the Mentoring grant, each Mentee coalition meet all of the Statutory eligibility requirements of the DFC Program and be fully prepared to compete for the DFC grant on their own. Grantees will be expected to achieve this goal by implementing the following objectives:

  • Strengthen Mentee coalition’s organizational structure;
  • Increase Mentee coalition’s leadership and community readiness to address youth substance use problems in the Mentee community; and
  • Assist the Mentee coalition in working through a strategic planning process that will result in a comprehensive community Action Plan.

In addition to and through the DFC Mentoring Program, Mentor coalition will develop mentoring activities that will support and encourage the development of the Mentee coalition(s) that are focused on the prevention of youth substance use. Funding through this grant is intended to provide the Mentee coalition with the training and technical assistance necessary to ensure formation of a strong community coalition.  

Mentoring applications are accepted only from current DFC grantees that are in good standing (i.e., not on high risk status) with the program under the Terms and Conditions of their regular DFC grant.  Applicants can ask for no more than $75,000 per year for up to two years.  The DFC Mentoring program has its own statutory eligibility requirements and all must be met to be considered eligible for funding and move to peer review for scoring.

The DFC Mentoring Program was established as a part of DFC when the program was reauthorized in 2001 (Public Law 107-82, 115 Stat. 814). The DFC Mentoring Program was also included in the Office of National Drug Control Policy Reauthorization Act of 2006 (Public Law 109-469). The latest reauthorization extended the program until 2012.

How to Apply for a DFC Mentoring Grant

The DFC Mentoring program posts the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) in February of each year.  Potential applicants can find the DFC FOA at,, and on this website.  It is imperative that applicants use the correct RFA when applying.  We do not recommend reading or using previously submitted and/or funded applications.  The DFC Mentoring FOA changes every year because of lessons learned in the previous funding cycle or because the program naturally experiences changes over time and these should be reflected in the questions asked in the Mentoring FOA.

DFC Mentoring  Program Grant Cycle

Applicants must follow the Mentoring FOA as it is written and in its entirety.  The Mentoring 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.

"Applicants should note that SAMHSA no longer accepts paper backup submissions if you elect to use Grants.Gov.  Since the paper backup was used to offset any challenges encountered with your online submission, ONDCP recommends you consider submitting your application in hard copy form based on the instructions published within the RFA.  Many of our DFC applicants have stated a preference for the hard copy (paper) submission because of the number of documents and statutory eligibility attachments associated with your DFC application.  While the form in which you submit (paper versus electronic) has no bearing on your score, it is important to note if your application is missing any of the required eligibility documentation, it cannot proceed to peer review." 

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

Statutory Eligibility Requirements for the DFC Mentoring Program

Statutory eligibility requirements, written into the DFC Act and the subsequent Reauthorization of the DFC program by Congress in 2006, are inherent in the DFC Mentoring program.  Failure to meet any single eligibility requirement will cause the 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 individual listed as the Business Official 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 application.

All DFC Mentoring applications will be jointly screened by ONDCP and SAMHSA to determine whether each applicant meets all the statutory eligibility requirements for the DFC Mentoring program. Applications submitted by eligible DFC grantees will then be scored through a peer review process according to the evaluation criteria described the DFC Funding Opportunity Announcement.

The following table contains a summary of the statutory eligibility requirements for the DFC Mentoring Program and the minimum documentation applicants must provide to meet the eligibility criteria. Each year, DFC Mentoring grantees must demonstrate compliance with all of the following statutory eligibility requirements to be considered for funding.

Requirement 1: Mentor’s 5 Years of Existence
The Mentor coalition must have been in existence for at least five years. (21 U.S.C 1535 § 1035 (d)(1))
Requirement 2: Mentor in Good Standing
The Mentor coalition must be in compliance with all requirements of their existing DFC grant (i.e., DFC reporting and Grants Management requirements) for the previous year. A DFC grantee on high-risk status is not eligible to submit an application for a DFC Mentoring grant. (21 U.S.C 1535 § 1035 (a))
Requirement 3: Mentor’s Measurable Results
The Mentor coalition must have achieved, through its own efforts, measurable results in the prevention of substance use among youth. (21 U.S.C 1535 § 1035 (d)(2))
Requirement 4:  Mentor’s Commitment
The Mentor coalition must have at least one paid or volunteer staff person, as well as sector volunteers, willing to serve as mentors to the Mentee coalition in the prevention of youth substance use. (21 U.S.C 1535 § 1035 (d)(3))
Requirement 5: Mentee’s Status
The Mentee coalition is not currently and never has been funded through the DFC grant program.
Requirement 6: Mentee’s Willingness to Participate
The Mentor coalition must demonstrate that there is a willingness on the part of the Mentee coalition and its community to actively participate in the mentoring process. (21 U.S.C 1535 § 1035 (d)(4))
Requirement 7:  Mentoring Plan
The Mentor coalition must submit a detailed Mentoring Plan for the mentoring activities to be supported by the grant. *(21 U.S.C. 1535 § 1035 (d)(5))
Requirement 8:  Substantial Support from Non-Federal Sources
The Mentor coalition must demonstrate a minimum of a 1:1 match in non-Federal funds not previously identified as match to their current DFC grant. (21 U.S.C. 1535 § 1035 (g)(1))
Requirement 9:  Federal Request
The Mentor coalition may not request more than $75,000 in Federal funds per year.  (21 U.S.C. 1535 § 1035 (g)(2))