Drug-Free Communities Notice of Funding Opportunity: Questions and Answers

Key points

The FAQs will be updated throughout the application process. Questions not yet addressed should be sent to DFC_NOFO@cdc.gov.

About the program

What is the Drug-Free Communities (DFC) Support Program?

The Drug-Free Communities (DFC) Support Program is the nation's leading effort to mobilize communities to prevent youth substance use. The program provides grant awards to over 700 community-based coalitions addressing youth substance use per year. For more information, visit Drug-Free Communities Support Program.

What is a DFC community coalition?

A community coalition is a community-based formal arrangement for cooperation and collaboration among 12 community groups, or sectors, defined in the DFC Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO):

  • youth
  • parents
  • business
  • media
  • school
  • youth-serving organizations
  • law enforcement
  • religious or fraternal organizations
  • civic or volunteer groups
  • healthcare professional or organizations
  • state, local, and tribal government agencies
  • other local organizations involved in reducing substance use

Each group retains its identity, but all agree to work together toward a common goal.

Application information

When will the Notices of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) be released?

The Notices of Funding Opportunity are released in January or February of each calendar year. Both New and Competing Continuation Drug-Free Communities (DFC) Support Program NOFOs will be posted on Grants.gov.

Where and how do I submit an application?

All applications are submitted via Grants.gov. You can view instructions on how to get registered at Grants.gov on Register.

When are applications due?

Applications are due approximately 60 days after the NOFOs are published on grants.gov. We strongly encourage submitting applications early to ensure that your package meets all requirements and alleviate the potential for last-minute technical issues, as applications cannot be submitted after the deadline.

What is the difference between the New (Year 1) NOFO and the Competing Continuation (Year 6) NOFO?

There are two (2) NOFOs for the annual DFC funding:

  • The NEW (Year 1) NOFO is for those applicants who have never received or been awarded any DFC funds.
  • For those applicants who have received DFC funding in the past (or are a current Year 5 recipient), you will apply for the Competing Continuation (Year 6) NOFO.

Please note, current recipients in Years 2-5 and 7-10 should contact their Project Officer with questions about their ongoing funding.


What are the statutory eligibility requirements for the DFC Support Program?

  • Eligible applicant organizations are entities registered with the Federal Government to conduct business as a recipient.
  • Eligible applicants include, but are not limited to state governments, county governments, city or township governments, special district governments, independent school districts, public and state-controlled institutions of higher education, Native American tribal governments and organizations, and private education institutions.
  • Please refer to the Eligibility Information section in the NOFO that lists the categories of eligible applicants. A coalition applying on its own behalf must be registered with the IRS as a 501(c)(3) to receive federal funding. If the coalition does not have 501(c)(3) status, the coalition must identify a fiscal agent who is eligible to receive federal funding to apply on its behalf.

Can a local government agency apply?

A local government agency is eligible to apply – either as a fiscal agent or as the coalition itself – if it satisfies all statutory requirements outlined in the NOFO.

Can a Native American Tribal Government or Native American Tribal Organization apply?

Yes, Native American Tribal Governments and Native American Tribal Organizations are eligible to apply – either as a fiscal agent or as the coalition itself – if it satisfies all statutory requirements outlined in the NOFO.

How can I check if my coalition overlaps with another? When is a Letter of Mutual Cooperation necessary?

  • Two coalitions may not serve the same zip code unless the coalitions have clearly demonstrated a plan for collaboration. It is the coalition's responsibility to determine if other coalitions serving its community have received or are applying for DFC funding.
  • You may visit the DFC Coalitions for a searchable list of active coalitions to verify if your coalition overlaps with a currently funded coalition. If your proposed coalition's zip code overlaps with an existing DFC coalition, you must provide a Letter of Mutual Cooperation (i.e., a formal agreement that describes the relationship between fiscal agent and community coalition) that indicates the overlapping zip code(s) and outlines the plan to collaborate.

What is a DFC Fiscal Agent?

A fiscal agent is an entity or organization with high-quality financial and management expertise that agrees to serve as the legal applicant for DFC funding when a community-based coalition is unable to apply on their own behalf.

The fiscal agent assumes all responsibility for the grant and the grant requirements providing timely reporting to allow CDC to monitor performance while the work is carried out and performed by the community-based coalition. The relationship with the coalition is established prior to application for funding through an MOU.

Who is eligible to serve as a fiscal agent?

  • Fiscal agents are entities eligible to receive federal funds on behalf of a coalition.
  • A coalition applying on its own behalf must be registered with the IRS as a 501(c)(3) to receive federal funding. If the coalition does not have 501(c)(3) status, it must identify a fiscal agent eligible to receive federal funding to apply on its behalf.

Can a fiscal agent serve more than one coalition at a time?

An organization serving as a fiscal agent may only hold one DFC grant at a time and therefore cannot serve as a fiscal agent for more than one coalition at a time.

Can the Authorized Organization Representative (AOR) and Program Director/Principal Investigator be contractors of the fiscal agent?

  • The AOR must be salaried staff of the 501(c)(3) applicant or the fiscal agent. The AOR may not identify as an independent contractor.
  • The Program Director/Principal Investigator may be a contractor or volunteer staff.

What key personnel am I required to have and what role should they fill? Can one person serve in multiple roles at a time?

At a minimum, the following key personnel are required:

  • Authorized Organization Representative (AOR): The AOR is the representative of the applicant/recipient organization with authority to act on the organization's behalf in matters related to the award and administration of grants. In signing a grant application, this individual agrees that the organization will assume the obligations imposed by applicable federal statutes and regulations and other terms and conditions of the award, including any assurances, if a grant is awarded. These responsibilities include overseeing the financial aspects of the grant and the performance of the grant-supported project or activities as specified in the approved application. This person must be an employee of the recipient organization.
  • Program Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI): The PD/PI is the person who provides programmatic oversight of the grant and is accountable to officials of the recipient organization. The PD/PI must be an employee of the recipient organization and cannot be the same person as the AOR.
  • Project Coordinator: The Project Coordinator manages the work of the coalition and program activities, including training, coalition communication, data collection, and information dissemination. The PD/PI and the Project Coordinator can be the same person.

Do the statutory requirements outline in the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) apply to tribes and/or tribal organizations?

Yes, they are required to adhere to the same statutory requirements. Any interested groups are encouraged to contact DFC_NOFO@cdc.gov to address questions specific to their community.

For tribal applicants to meet the statutory eligibility requirements of the DFC NOFOs, the following exceptions apply:

Applicants that include a representative with expertise in the field of substance use from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Indian Health Service, or a tribal government agency and that are serving a tribal community can use additional federal funding as match.

For the 12 required sectors, appropriate sector representatives can be substituted. For example:

  • A traditional healer and/or spiritual leader can serve as the religious and fraternal organization sector representative.
  • A tribal elder that enforces tribal law can serve as a law enforcement sector representative.
  • A tribal storyteller can serve as the media sector representative.

Program requirements

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 thestatutory 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 use

Please refer to the Community Coalition section of the NOFO(s) for full definitions of sector representatives.

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 such as community volunteers that are engaging on a regular basis with coalitions to help drive impactful work. 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 such as community volunteers that are engaging on a regular basis with coalitions to help 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.

Can we focus on preventing more than one type of substance use?

Yes, The DFC Program requires applicants to address at least two substances but may address more than two. These substances include but are not limited to narcotics, depressants, stimulants, hallucinogens, inhalants, marijuana, alcohol, and tobacco.

How can I address health disparities/health equity in my application?

Your organization has insight into your community's unique culture and context and should address health disparities based on the needs of your community. You will need to describe and define the population you intend to work with and your rationale for selecting that group for your work. We encourage you to reference how the CDC defines the topics of health equity and disparities at What is Health Equity?

Budget and match

What amount of funding is available for this application cycle?

  • The grant is a 5-year grant with a maximum award of $125,000 per year.
  • The applicant must not request more than $125,000 in federal funds per year.

What is considered in-kind support that can be used as matching funds?

Some forms of in-kind support can be used to count towards matching funds. 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. In-kind support may also include training programs sponsored by other coalitions or partners for the community.

What are cost matching requirements for this grant?

Applicants in Years 1 – 6 are required to have 100 percent match (1:1) of funds from non-federal sources. For those in Year 7 and Year 8 of the DFC program, the required percentage of matching funds increases to 125%. For Year 9 and 10 DFC recipients, the percentage of matching funds increases to 150%.

Can I use opioid settlement funding to satisfy match requirements?

Yes, per the Code of Federal Regulation, 45 CFR 75.306(b)(5), the use of opioid settlement funds specifically to satisfy the match requirement under the DFC program appears allowable as it meets the criteria of “not paid by the Federal Government under another federal award.” (Note: this use of the funds is subject to state, local, or other provisions that apply to these funds).

Can matching funds be a combination of nonfederal funding and in-kind donations?

Yes, they can be a combination of both. You cannot use federal funds in your match. Refer to the Cost and Sharing section of the NOFO for additional information.

What is the maximum amount of the total grant funding that can cover personnel salary?

Personnel salaries are determined at the discretion of the coalition. The DFC Program expects your coalition to be a responsible steward of the award finances to improve outcomes in your community.

What should I include in the budget narrative?

Please refer to Budget Preparation Guidelines for additional context on permissible items to include in your budget narrative.

What are the rules around indirect costs?

  • If requesting indirect costs in the budget, a copy of the indirect cost-rate agreement must be included. If the indirect cost rate is provisional, the agreement should be no more than 12 months of age.
  • If the coalition has not signed an indirect cost rate agreement with the Fiscal Agent, a De Minimis rate of 10% may be used.


Who can I contact if I have questions about Grants.gov functionality or need assistance submitting my application (i.e., creating an account, uploading attachments, etc.)?

Please contact the Grants.gov Help Center at support@grants.gov or 1-800-518-4726 for assistance with Grants.gov access and functionality.

What if I still have questions that have not been addressed?

  • DFC will host applicant webinars to provide more information about eligibility and statutory requirements during the open application period.
  • You can also visit DFC Funding Announcements for more information about this opportunity, trainings and webinars, and archived materials. Email DFC_NOFO@cdc.gov with questions.

Where can I view the Informational Applicant Webinar recordings?

Please visit The Drug-Free Communities (DFC) Support Program to view webinar recordings and to access other materials.

Who do I contact if I want to serve as a grant reviewer?

Please contact DFC_NOFO@cdc.gov indicating your interest and attach your resume to your email. The Recruitment Team will reach back out with further details.