FY 2021 Drug-Free Communities (DFC) Support Program

Frequently Asked Questions for New (CDC-RFA-CE21-2102external icon) and Competing Continuation (CDC-RFA-CE20-2004CC21external icon) Applicants

General Grant Award

  1. When will the Notice of Funding Opportunity be released?
    • The Drug-Free Communities (DFC) Support Program’s Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) will be released in March on Grants.govexternal icon.  The application window is routinely 60 days from when the NOFO is published.
    • Archived Funding Announcements, presentations and FAQs can be found on the CDC DFC webpage:  Archived Funding Announcements
  2. Where can I view previous Grant Award webinar recordings?
  3. Are Year 1 grant applicants (New) competing with Year 6 grant applicants (Competing Continuation)?
    • By statute, the DFC program will consider all Year 1 and Year 6 applicants equally. Therefore, Year 1 applicants and Year 6 applicants will be in a competitive pool for funding. New and Competing Continuation applicants will be applying to separate Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO)s on Grants.govexternal icon.
  4. Who can I contact if I have questions about www.grants.gov functionality or need assistance submitting my application (i.e., creating an account, uploading attachments, etc.)?
    • Please contact the www.grants.gov Help Center at support@grants.gov or 1-800-518-4726 for assistance with Grants.gov access and functionality.

Application Submission

  1. Where do I submit an application?
  1. Is a Letter of Intent required for this NOFO? 
    • There is no Letter of Intent required to apply for DFC Funding.
  1. How do I submit the Project Abstract?
    • The project abstract is included on the mandatory documents list and must be submitted. Applicants will enter the abstract in the “Project Abstract Summary” text box on the application at grants.govexternal icon.
  1. Is there any required documentation for the Award Administration Information sections?
    • Please see instructions in the Notice of Funding Opportunity for instructions regarding each subsection of the “Award Administration Information” section. If applicants receive an award, they should be familiar with these requirements.
  1. Does our application for Years 6-10 of DFC funding need to cover the same geographical area as our Years 1-5?
    • If you are a current Year 5 DFC grant recipient competing for Years 6-10 of DFC funding, the geographical area covered by the DFC grant in years 1-5 does not need to be the same as in years 6-10. Your coalition can determine the community it intends to serve. In the application, your coalition must describe how your selection of geographical area will help to achieve the program purpose of preventing and reducing substance use among youth (including use of alcohol, marijuana, tobacco, and prescription drugs). Please refer to the “Target Population” section and “Eligibility Information” sections for more information.
  1. How should the pages of the application package be numbered?
    • The page number should be on the bottom of every page in the application.

Sector Engagement

  1. If I am applying for Years 6-10, can I add new participating organizations, or do they have to stay the same?
    • New sector representatives are welcomed. It is understood that some organizations participating in the coalition may have changed or evolved over time. Coalitions are not required to involve the same 12 sector representatives or organizations that participated in the first round of funding when applying for competing continuation of DFC funding.
  2. Who qualifies as a sector representative? Can one individual represent two or more sectors?
    • The community coalition must have representation from the 12 sectors identified in the statutory requirements.  Those sectors are:
    • Youth (18 or younger)
    • Parent
    • Business
    • Media
    • School
    • Youth-serving organization
    • Law enforcement
    • Religious/Fraternal organization
    • Civic/Volunteer groups
    • Healthcare professional or organization
    • State, local, or tribal governmental agency with expertise in the field of substance use (including, if applicable, the state agency with primary authority for substance use)
    • Other organization involved in reducing substance abuse
    • An individual can serve as a representative in only one sector category. The coalition determines who is the best fit for each sector. Sector representatives should represent the “movers and shakers” of a community, for example, volunteers in your community that engage with your coalition on a regular basis to help to drive impactful work. In the Coalition Involvement Agreement (CIA), applicants will list the sector being represented, the individual’s name, and a rationale for why they were identified to represent a specific sector.
  3. Can the coalition have more than 12 organizations involved?
    • Yes, however, for the purpose of meeting the statutory requirements of the DFC grant, applicants should only provide information regarding the 12 individual representatives in the 12 required sectors.
  4. What is an example of a state or local government sector representative that is a government-funded agency?
    • The sector representative must represent a government-funded agency. For example, an employee of your health department can serve as a state or local government sector representative, as they may have a specific focus on youth substance use.
  5. Can a sector representative serve two coalitions at once?
    • A total of 12 individuals representing the 12 sectors of your community should comprise the community coalition. Each individual should only serve on one community coalition.
  6. Is there a minimum amount of time a sector representative must be involved before they can count as the sector representative?
    • There is no defined timeframe. However, keep in mind it is a statutory requirement for the coalition to be in existence for at least six months at the time of application.
  7. Are electronic signatures acceptable on the Coalition Involvement Agreements (CIAs)?
    • Yes, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, both handwritten and electronic forms of signatures will be accepted. Specific guidance will be included in the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) when it is published.
  8. Where should we provide the rationale for selecting the person who represents each sector?
    • Refer to Attachment 1 for a sample Coalition Involvement Agreement (CIA) and Sector Table. The Sector Table should identify all 12 of your required sector representatives with their names, their affiliations, and a justification or rationale for why this individual meets that definition of the sector representative.
  9. In the Coalition Involvement Agreement instructions, “civic organization” says “not coalition member” in the instructions. What does this mean?
    • The sector representative must be an active member of an organization that provides civic or volunteer activities and not a coalition member who might volunteer with that organization.
  10. Can the fiscal agent be listed as one of the 12 sector representatives?
    • No, paid staff may not serve as one of the coalition sector representatives.
  11. Whose resumes must we include as “Key Personnel”? Is it required to submit all 12 Sector Representatives’ resumes?
    • Key Personnel resumes required include the Business Official, Project Director/Principal Investigator, and the Project Coordinator.
    • Sector Representative information should be captured in Attachment 1. You should fill out Attachment 1 thoroughly, including sector representative name, organization, rationale, and a CIA for each sector representative.

Project Narrative

  1. What is included in the Project Narrative?
    • The Project Narrative must include all the following headings:
      • Background and Approach
      • Evaluation and Performance Measurement Plan
      • Applicant’s Organizational Capacity to Implement the Approach
      • Workplan (12-month Action Plan)
      • Budget (The Budget will be reviewed but not scored.)
    • The Project Narrative portion of the application is limited to 15 pages only, not including the Budget.
    • The Project Narrative does not have a separate attachment number but should be titled “Project Narrative” and submitted as a PDF with the application package.
    • For New Applicants: Please refer to the outline provided in the Application and Submission Information Section to know what you must address in the Project Narrative. You must include all information requested. Section E: Review and Selection Process outlines how the Project Narrative will be weighted.
    • For Competing Continuation Applicants: Please refer to the outline provided in Section IV. Application and Submission Information to know what you must address in the Project Narrative. You must include all information requested. Section V: Review and Selection Process outlines how the Project Narrative will be weighted.
  1. What is covered in the Work Plan?
    • The Work Plan (i.e., the 12-Month Action Plan) is part of the “Project Narrative” section. You must tell the story of the coalition’s current and planned efforts to prevent youth substance use in your community through the creation of a 12- Month Action Plan that specifically addresses the goals of the program. Your Action Plan should align with the two goals of the Drug-Free Communities Support Program.
      • Establish and strengthen collaboration among communities, public and private non-profit agencies, as well as federal, state, local, and tribal governments to support the efforts of community coalitions working to prevent and reduce substance abuse among youth (individuals 18 years of age and younger).
      • Reduce substance abuse among youth and, over time, reduce substance abuse among adults by addressing the factors in a community that increases the risk of substance abuse and promoting the factors that minimize the risk of substance abuse.
  1. Does the Project Abstract count toward the page limit for the Project Narrative?
    • No, the Project Abstract does not count toward the page limit for the Project Narrative.
  1. Is a community overview required?
    • The community overview is described within the “Background and Approach” section. Please refer to the instructions found in the “Application Submission Instructions” and “Review and Selection Process” sections.

Addressing Multiple Substances

  1. Can we focus on preventing more than two types of substance use?
    • Yes, for the DFC program, your application should address prevention of at least two types of substance use. Applicants may focus on three, but the requirement is that two substances be addressed.
    • Please be sure to include all relevant substances in your action plan, and make sure to use evidence-based and practice-based strategies relevant to the chosen substances
  2. Can a coalition add additional substances over time?
    • Yes, substance use prevention needs might change as the needs of a community evolve. Data will drive your work, so prevention of additional types of substance use may be added over time.
  3. Where can I find additional information about how to write a SMART goal?
    • SMART goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound (SMART). There will be instructions in the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) that explain how to create a SMART goal.
  4. Can a community organization focusing on one substance apply on behalf of a local coalition (serve as the legal applicant) with a plan to address multiple substances?
    • A coalition with a focus on one substance may be eligible to apply if they meet all statutory eligibility requirements and create a comprehensive 12-month action plan oriented around at least two substances.
    • Please review the Table of Statutory Eligibility Requirements to ensure that your organization and coalition meet all requirements.
    • An organization can serve as the fiscal agent/legal applicant if they are eligible to receive federal funding. Please see the NOFO for Eligibility Information as well as Attachment 4: Legal Eligibility to see a Memorandum of Understanding between a Legal Applicant/Fiscal Agent.

National Cross-Site Evaluation

  1. For the National Cross-Site Evaluation requirement, does a coalition need to focus on specific grades at the time of application?
    • No, to apply to the DFC program, coalitions do not have to comply with the National Cross-site Evaluation requirement at the time of application. If awarded a DFC grant, coalitions will be required to collect data from at least three grades between grades 6 through 12.
  2. Do we need to carry out the survey within the first 12 months of our grant period? If we planned to survey our students later than the 12-month time period of the Work Plan, how do we discuss our approach to the survey?
    • Coalitions awarded funding must be in compliance with the Cross-Site Evaluation Survey requirement within 2 years of funding. Applicants must prepare a detailed work plan for the first year of the award (i.e., 12-Month Action Plan) that outlines the proposed objectives, strategies, and activities during the period of performance from September 30, 2021 – September 29, 2022.
    • Your plans to survey students after the 12-month time period can be discussed in your responses to the “Review and Selection Process,” “Background and Approach,” and “Evaluation and Performance Measurement” sections.

Entity Eligibility

  1. Does our fiscal agent need to be a 501(c)(3)?
    • In order to apply to for a DFC grant, the fiscal agent must either be a 501(c)(3) or an entity eligible to receive federal dollars. The coalition itself must be able to receive federal grant funds, or they must partner with a fiscal agent eligible to receive grant funds. This partnership should be proven with a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).
  2. Can a fiscal agent serve on more than one DFC grant?
    • No, a legal applicant/grant award recipient may only hold one DFC grant at any time. Therefore, a fiscal agent is not eligible to serve as the fiscal agent for a new DFC grant while continuing to serve as the fiscal agent for an ongoing award on behalf of a different community coalition.
  3. If a coalition is not a 501(c)(3) at the time of the application but will receive 501(c)(3) status later, how should this be reflected in the application?
    • At the time of application, the applicant must ensure that all eligibility requirements are met.
  4. What are the Key Personnel roles?
    • There are three major roles defined in the “Organizational Capacity of the Recipients to Implement the Approach” section of the NOFO:
      • The Business Official/Authorized Organization Representative (AOR) oversees the financial aspects of the grant.
      • The Program Director (i.e. Program Director/Principal Investigator) directs the project or program supported by the grant and is accountable to officials of the recipient organization.
      • The Project Coordinator coordinates the work of the coalition and program activities, including training, coalition communication, data collection, and information dissemination.
    • Please note the Business Official/Authorized Organization Representative (AOR) and PD/PI must be an employee of the organization receiving grant funding (the Fiscal Agent), but the Project Coordinator does not have to be an employee. The PD/PI and Business Official/AOR cannot be the same person.
  5. Is there a template for a zip-code overlap agreement?
    • No, there is no template for the letter of mutual collaboration between coalitions applying from the same zip code.
    • Coalitions must determine how they will collaborate, and this agreement must be clearly written in the letter of mutual cooperation. Both parties from the same zip code need to submit the letter of mutual cooperation.
    • A listing of current DFC recipients may be found on Drug-Free Communities Coalitions.
  6. As a community we have had difficulty with obtaining our DUNS number. Can we use a DUNS number from an entity other than the organization leading the grant?
    • If a coalition works with an entity as a Fiscal Agent, it may use the DUNS number of the fiscal agent. However, if a coalition is its own 501(c)(3) and can request its own funding, the coalition must be formally registered with its correct DUNS number.

Budget And Match

  1. What amount of funding is available for this application cycle?
    • The annual funding amount per recipient is a maximum of $125,000.
  2. How should I value employee and volunteer time as in-kind donations?
    • Both employee and volunteer time can count towards in-kind donations. There is no formula for determining rates and coalitions are encouraged to use their discretion when meeting their required non-federal match. However, it is important to keep in mind the fair market price when considering the value of contributions such as office space, utilities, etc. Also, if considering in-kind rates for volunteer time, a resource is the Independent Sectorexternal icon, which provides state data and values of volunteer time. Please remember that all values should be based on services performed and not on title.
  3. What are the rules around indirect costs?
    • Indirect costs must be reasonable and commensurate with the work being conducted for the success of the coalition. To claim indirect costs, the applicant organization must have a current approved indirect cost rate agreement established with the cognizant federal agency. A copy of the most recent indirect cost rate agreement must be provided with the application. If the applicant organization does not have an approved indirect cost rate agreement, costs normally identified as indirect costs (overhead costs) can be budgeted and identified as direct costs.
  4. Do I have to apply for the full amount of $125,000?
    • Coalitions are encouraged, but not required, to apply for the full $125,000 of the grant.
  5. What is the match requirement and how does it increase over time?
    • For new recipients, the match remains the same over the five years of DFC grant funding. You may request up to $125,000 and you will be expected to match the amount you receive.
    • For recipients in years 7-8 and 9-10, the match requirement increases. The table below describes the match requirements for each year of funding:

Percentage of Match

Year of Funding

Request Matching Requirement

Year of Funding


Request Matching Requirement


Year of Funding


Request Matching Requirement


Year of Funding


Request Matching Requirement


  1. How do I complete the match component of the application?
    • The DFC authorizing legislation requires recipients to demonstrate that they have nonfederal matching funds (“match”) from nonfederal sources equivalent to or greater than federal funds requested from the DFC Support Program.
      Applicants must itemize the match separately in the budget and explain the match separately in the Budget Narrative.
  2. Is there a budget template for CDC applications?
    • CDC will accept a budget narrative/justification in the general form, format, and level of detail as described in the CDC Budget Preparation Guidelines. Your match must also be documented in the Budget and the SF-424.
  3. If we do not have a negotiated indirect cost rate for the budget, are we able to reflect these in any way?
    • If requesting indirect costs in the budget, a copy of the indirect cost-rate agreement must be included. Applicants must name this file “Indirect Cost Rate” and upload it at Grants.gov.
    • If you are a new coalition and do not have a negotiated indirect cost rate agreement, you can request up to a 10% de-minimis for indirect costs, which would not require you to have an approved agreement with your application.
  4. Can grant funds received from a county be counted as matched funds?
    • Any nonfederal funds can be counted as matched funds, including funds received from a county. Federal funds, however, including those passed through a state or local government, cannot be used toward the required match. The only exception is in the case of a coalition that includes a representative of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Indian Health Service, or a tribal government agency with expertise in the field of substance use.
    • Applicants cannot submit a match that would not be an allowable expense of DFC funds.
  5. What is considered in-kind support for the match? For example, can the Business Official’s time be counted towards an in-kind match?
    • In-kind support includes the value of goods and services donated to the operation of the DFC coalition, including, but not limited to office space, volunteer secretarial services, pro bono accounting services, and other volunteer services to support the coalition’s work.
    • The Business Official’s time can count as in-kind towards the match requirement as long as they are an employee of the applicant organization. If the Business Official/Authorized Organization Representative is providing time in-kind for the match, it must be identified in the non-federal “Salaries and Wages” budget category.
  6. What is the difference between “Consultant Costs” and “Contractual Costs”?
    • Per the CDC Budget Guidelines, “Consultant Costs” and “Contractual Costs” are differentiated as follows:
    • Consultant Costs: This category should be used when hiring an individual to give professional advice or services (e.g., training, expert consultant, etc.) for a fee, but not as an employee of the grantee organization.
    • Contractual Costs: This category should be used when securing a third-party contract to perform program activities.
  7. My coalition currently provides stipends. How should I report these?
    • Grant funds may not be used for stipends, as defined in the HHS Grants Policy Statement.
  8. What are the staffing requirements, and must they be paid with DFC funds? What are the full-time (FTE) requirements in the budget?
    • Key personnel include the Business Official/Authorized Organization Representative, Principal Investigator/Program Director (PI/PD), and Project Coordinator. The Business Official needs to be an employee of the recipient organization. The PI/PD and the Business Official cannot be the same individual. The PI/PD can be the same person as the project coordinator.
    • Any kind of payment to key personnel must be listed in the Salaries and Wages category of the budget. Staff contribution could also be considered an in-kind payment.
    • No funding opportunity announcements have FTE requirements. Please review the “Budget Narrative” and “Funding Restrictions” sections within the Notice of Funding Opportunity for further details on developing the budget and associated justification.
  9. How do you recommend budgeting for attendance at the National Coalition Academy (NCA) if we don’t know if it will happen in person and where it will happen? CADCA states that for 2022 they will probably do a combination of virtual and ‘live’ NCAs.
    • You should use an estimate to project what it would cost for two people to attend the three one-week training sessions. Estimates should not exceed the allowable federal per diem rates and average per diem rates can be found at FY 2021 Federal Per Diem Ratesexternal icon.
    • Additional budget guidance will be provided for recipients when the updated NCA program schedule for 2022 becomes available.
  10. Should the Data Management Plan (DMP) be part of the Project Narrative or a separate attachment?
    • The Data Management Plan (DMP) should be included as part of the Project Narrative as outlined in the “Project Narrative” section of the NOFO. Funded recipients will receive additional training and technical assistance on developing a DMP, which must be submitted within the first 6 months of an award.
  11. Where do I access and submit the SF-424 and SF-424A forms?
    • The SF-424 and SF-424A forms are located at SF-424-familyexternal icon. Please follow instructions located on that web page for how to complete these forms and ensure they are submitted with your continuation application.
  12. For SF-424A “Section F – Other Budget Information,” do we include the Direct Charges total for one year or five years?
    • Applicants will submit a line-item budget and narrative for one year and complete the related budget forms for the project period.
  13. Is the Drug-Free Communities (DFC) Support Program funding opportunity a one-time opportunity?
    • Currently, funding opportunities for the Drug-Free Communities Support Program are offered on an annual basis, based on the availability of funds. Successful applicants are funded for a five-year cycle.
  14. If a coalition does not have a lobbyist, how do they fill out the Disclosure of Lobbying Activities (SF-LLL) form?
    • If an applicant does not have a lobbyist, the applicant is still required to complete Sections 4, 6, 10a, 10b, and 11 of the Disclosure of Lobbying Activities (SF-LLL) form. You may enter “N/A” for the required fields in Sections 10a and 10b to complete the form and be able to submit it with your application package.

Other FAQs

  1. When is a letter of mutual cooperation required?
    • Two coalitions may not serve the same zip codes unless the coalitions have clearly demonstrated a plan for collaboration. If the applicant coalition is proposing to serve zip codes that overlap with an existing DFC coalition’s zip code or with a coalition applying for a DFC grant, the applicant must provide a Letter(s) of Mutual Cooperation between the coalitions outlining their efforts to collaborate. The letter must indicate the zip code(s) that overlap and discuss the plan for collaboration.
  2. How can I confirm if a coalition in my community or ZIP code is receiving or applying for DFC funding?
    • It is the responsibility of the coalition to determine if there are other coalitions serving its community have received or are applying for DFC funding. If coalitions are working in the same community, the DFC Program statute requires a letter of mutual cooperation to ensure there is no duplication of effort.
  3. Can you apply for DFC in an area that had DFC several years ago?
    • The 10-year funding limit rule for the DFC Support Program is tied to the coalition. After a coalition has received 10 years of DFC funding along with the training and technical assistance on how their coalition might function in the community and become sustainable, they are no longer eligible to receive DFC funds. This funding limit does not prevent the community from being able to fund or receive any more DFC grants.
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