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Faith-Based, Community, Volunteer, and Private Nonprofit Organizations May Be Eligible for FEMA Disaster Grants

Release date: 
October 15, 2017
Release Number: 
R2 DR-4339-PR NR 018

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Faith-based organizations, in addition to other community, volunteer, and non-profit organizations in areas eligible for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Public Assistance program may apply for FEMA grants to help them return to helping others.  Eligible organizations should submit their requests as soon as possible.

As part of its mission, FEMA provides grants to state, local, tribal, and territorial governments and certain private nonprofits through its Public Assistance program.  PA will help pay for emergency work and repairs such as debris removal, emergency protective measures, and damage to public infrastructure such as roads, bridges, buildings, utilities, and recreation areas.

Types of organizations that provide critical services that may qualify for FEMA Public Assistance grants include:

  • Private schools that provide elementary or secondary education or an institution of higher education;
  • Hospitals and other medical-treatment facilities; and
  • Utilities including water, sewer, and electrical systems.

Types of non-critical, essential services that may be eligible for Public Assistance grants include:

  • Senior citizen and community centers or other community services;
  • Food programs;
  • Educational enrichment activities;
  • Custodial and day care services;
  • Disability residential services;
  • Assisted living and low-income housing;
  • Homeless shelters and rehabilitation services;  and
  • Performing and community arts centers.

Additionally, when any organization, such as faith-based organizations, schools, or community centers, provide emergency protective measures such as sheltering and feeding survivors on behalf of state, local, tribal, or territorial governments, FEMA may reimburse the costs of those services to the state, local, tribal, or territorial government. The government and the organization must enter into an agreement for these services, and the government could then reimburse the organization.

Only organizations with state or IRS tax exempt status may be considered.  For more information about eligible essential and critical service providers, go online to and reference the Public Assistance Program and Policy Guide.

Organizations that provide services of a non-critical, essential governmental nature must first apply for a low-interest disaster loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) before being considered for a PA grant. Public Assistance grants may be able to provide assistance to organizations that provide non-critical, essential governmental services for repair or replacement costs that SBA loans do not cover.

The SBA may provide up to $2 million to most private nonprofits in the form of low interest disaster loans.  To learn more about and apply for an SBA loan go online to or email  If you cannot access the website, call 800-659-2955 (TTY: 800-877-8339).

The first step to receive a FEMA PA grant for your faith-based, community, volunteer or other private nonprofit organization is to submit a Request for Public Assistance (RPA) to the government of Puerto Rico.  Faith-based organizations should contact the Puerto Rico Emergency Management Agency for more information.

Red Cross Volunteers bring aid to the people of Utuado, Puerto Rico
UTUADO, PUERTO RICO10.05.2017Photo by Staff Sgt. Richard Colletta 49th Public Affairs DetachmentSubscribe 11A weathered church still stands in Utuado, Puerto Rico, Oct. 5, 2017, during a Red Cross visit to deliver tarps, food, water, and conduct damage assessments and document the needs of the local residents. The Department of Defense, Federal Emergency Management Agency and other organizations have joined efforts to assist civil authorities in Puerto Rico to support disaster relief support after Hurricane Maria. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Richard Colletta)


FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards

Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-3362 (voice, 711/VRS - Video Relay Service) (TTY: 800-462-7585). Multilingual operators are available (press 2 for Spanish).

The SBA is the federal government’s primary source of money for the long-term rebuilding of disaster-damaged property. SBA helps businesses of all sizes, private non-profit organizations, homeowners and renters, which can cover the cost of replacing lost or disaster-damaged real estate and personal property. These disaster loans cover losses not fully compensated by insurance or other recoveries and do not duplicate benefits of other agencies or organizations.

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Last Updated: 
January 3, 2018 - 11:59