Frequently Asked Questions
Learn more about the CSBG Program and the Tribal application and renewal process by viewing these frequently asked questions.
Questions by Category
How Can CSBG Funds Be Used?
Under the CSBG program, Tribes and Tribal Organizations use funds to provide a range of services and activities that have a measurable and potentially major impact on the conditions and causes of poverty to promote self-sufficiency, family stability, and community revitalization. The law envisions a wide variety of activities undertaken on behalf of low-income families and individuals. Some specific types of programs operated under the CSBG program include addressing: employment, education, income management, self-sufficiency, youth and seniors, housing, linkages, nutrition, emergency services and/or health to combat the central causes of poverty.
Is There an Income Eligibility Requirement for Participation in CSBG Program services and activities?
The Federal Poverty Guidelines must be used as the primary criterion in determining income eligibility. To receive assistance under any CSBG project involving direct services, an applicant’s total household income must not exceed 200% of the federal poverty level. (Note: This is a recent increase in the income eligibility level passed in 2020 and extended in 2021.)
What fiscal deadlines should I remember?
All CSBG funds must be fully obligated within a two-year period.
- The deadline for Obligating FY21 Funds: September 30, 2022
- The deadline for Expending/Liquidating FY21 Funds: December 30, 2022
If any FY20 funds remain, please note:
- The deadline for Obligating FY20 Funds: September 30, 2021
- The deadline for Expending/Liquidating FY20 Funds: December 30, 2021
Can Unobligated CSBG Funds be Recaptured and Redistributed?
The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2005, Pub. L. 108-447, and all subsequent legislation appropriating funds for the CSBG have contained language that supersedes Section 675 (C) (a) (3) of the CSBG Act. Funds that have not been spent by the eligible entity/Tribe or Tribal organization shall remain with the entity for carryover into the next fiscal year.
What are some CSBG disallowed costs?
CSBG’s purpose differs from most grants because it does not focus on funding a particular service and does not function solely as a “stand-alone” program. Some examples of CSBG unallowable costs, according to OMB Circular A-87- Cost Principles for State, Local, and Indian Tribal Governments are as follows:
• Bad debt expenses, entertainment
• Fines and/or penalties
• Certain interest or other financial costs
• Loan processing costs
• Ineligible acquisition or construction of shelter
• Costs to renovate, rehabilitate, or convert buildings owned by religious organizations
• Preparation of work activities that would result in the displacement of a place of business
• Lobbying or other political activities
It should be noted that these items are provided as examples only and do not include all potential disallowances based on Federal and State requirements.
May CSBG funds be used to transport voters to the polls?
No. The statute prohibits the use of CSBG funds by a recipient to transport any voter to the polls.
What is the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG)?
The Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) is a federally funded block grant that provides funds to States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, U.S. Territories and Federally and State-recognized Indian Tribes and tribal organizations, which in turn, funds Community Action Agencies (CAAs), organizations serving migrant or seasonal farmworkers and other organizations designated by the States, Territories, and Tribes in order to lessen poverty in disadvantaged and low-income communities.
What is the Purpose of the Community Services Block Grant?
The purpose of the Community Services Block Grant is to provide assistance to States, Territories, Tribes, and local communities working through a network of community action agencies and other neighborhood-based organizations, for the reduction of poverty, the revitalization of low-income communities, and the empowerment of low-income families and individuals in rural and urban areas to become fully self-sufficient.
Who is Eligible to Apply for the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG)?
The CSBG program is a federally funded block grant that provides funding for eligible nonprofit community-based organizations or governmental entities that work to lessen poverty in disadvantaged and low-income communities. Federally and State recognized Tribes and Tribal Organizations may receive CSBG funding directly from OCS and are eligible for these funds.
Is There an Income Eligibility Requirement for Participation in CSBG Program services and activities?
The Federal Poverty Guidelines must be used as the primary criterion in determining income eligibility. To receive assistance under any CSBG project involving direct services, an applicant’s total household income must not exceed 125% of the poverty level. Under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed in March 2020, Tribes are authorized to revise the CSBG income eligibility limit from 125% to 200% of the FPL for CSBG services furnished during FY20 and FY21. Total household income is based on income at the time of application.
How do Tribes and Tribal Organizations apply for CSBG funds?
Tribes and Tribal Organizations are required to prepare and submit to the Office of Community Services (OCS) an application and plan covering a period of not less than one fiscal year and not more than two fiscal years. The plan must be submitted not later than 30 days prior to the beginning of the fiscal year covered by the plan (September 1st).
Where Can I Find a Copy of the most recent CSBG Tribal Application & Plan Instructions?
OCS releases a CSBG Action Transmittal each year via the OCS website. All CSBG application resources, including the OCS CSBG Action Transmittal, webinars from our How to Apply Webinar for Tribes & Tribal Organizations, and the CSBG Tribal Application Plan & Annual Report Tool Guide are available on the CSBG Tribal Online Resource Center, under Tools & Templates and CSBG Tribal Plan & Application.
How Do I Submit the CSBG Tribal Plan & Application Once it is Completed?
To apply, interested Tribes and Tribal organizations must submit the CSBG Tribal Plan and Application materials to OCS by September 1 of each year via the OLDC System.
–Current recipients will submit the SF-424M Form and CSBG Tribal application materials in the Online Data Collection (OLDC) system via Grantsolutions.gov.
–Prospective recipients must email the OCS CSBG Tribal Program Specialist their DUNS and EINS numbers along with a signed Letter of State Concurrence, regarding population data, by the State CSBG Administrator. The Tribal Program Specialist will then contact the Tribe with specific directions for submission.
Can We Submit a Two-Year Plan?
Yes, Two-year plans can be submitted. The Tribal Plan materials submitted must indicate that the Tribal Application & Plan was developed, reviewed, and authorized to cover a two year period. All elements of the application and plan materials must address a two-year plan including the public hearing, program narrative, certifications, and assurances. If you submitted a two-year plan, you must still complete the SF‐424M, and an Annual Report each year.
Do I need an original signature on our certifications and assurances?
Yes. The signatures on the certifications and assurances must be originals.
Do I need an original signature on our assurances every year?
As of FY 2020, CSBG Statement of Assurances only need to be signed with an original signature every two years. If you have the same Authorized Official in 2021 as you did in 2020, you do NOT have to send in a new CSBG Assurances document in 2021.
If you have a new Authorized Official in FY2021, you must send in a new CSBG Statement of Assurances, signed by the new Authorized Official.
What is the SF-424M Form?
The SF-424M is a standard electronic federal form required for submission of the CSBG application. Current recipients will complete this form online via the OLDC system. If directed by the OCS CSBG Tribal Program Specialist, prospective recipients may need to submit a PDF copy of the SF-424M by email with their CSBG Tribal application and Plan materials. To request a PDF copy of the SF-424M form please contact your OCS CSBG Tribal Program Specialist.
What if I missed the September 1st deadline?
If you have missed the deadline, notify the State CSBG Administrator in your state, that the Tribe or Tribal Organization is submitting the CSBG Tribal Plan past the September 1 deadline. The Tribe or Tribal Organization will also need to submit a signed Letter of State Concurrence, regarding late submission, by the State CSBG Administrator. (In accordance with CSBG Action Transmittal 2017-04: Application for FY 2018 Funds for Tribes and Tribal Organizations which states that “After the September 1 deadline, Tribal applications will be accepted only with concurrence from the State (or States) in which the Tribal or Tribal Organization is located.”)
When does the 2021 Federal Fiscal Year being?
It begins on October 1, 2020 and ends September 30, 2021.
What is the deadline for submitting the Annual Report?
All CSBG Tribal recipients must submit an Annual Report every year, even those in the middle of a two-year plan. The CSBG Annual Report must be submitted by December 30th of each year.
Where do I find the electronic the SF-424M Form?
Current recipients will complete the SF-424M Form online in the Online Data Collection (OLDC) system via Grantsolutions.gov. If directed by the OCS CSBG Tribal Program Specialist, prospective recipients may need to submit a PDF copy of the SF-424M Form by email with their CSBG Tribal application and Plan materials. To request a PDF copy of the SF-424M Form please contact your OCS CSBG Tribal Program Specialist.
I’m Having Trouble Accessing the OLDC System, How Do I Get Help?
If you have trouble accessing the OLDC system, you can contact Niki Frazier, OCS Senior Records Specialist/Project Lead, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Can I Submit My Application in the OLDC System With Warnings?
Yes. The OLDC system will allow you to submit your application with warnings, but not with errors. Errors must be corrected before submitting your application.
Is There a Resource Available to Help Me With Using the OLDC System?
Yes. The CSBG Tribal T&TA Program offers a live webinar training each year called, A Guide to the OLDC System & Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) Submission Process as part of our annual How to Apply Webinar Series. Feel free to access the latest OLDC Training Webinar on the CSBG Tribal Online Resource Center under A Guide To OLDC.
How Are Funding Allocations Determined?
The determination of Tribal funding takes into consideration the Tribal population, the incidence of Tribal poverty in the State, and the State poverty population data. The allocation amount for Tribes is taken from the State’s CSBG allocation and provided directly to the Tribal Government.
When Will We Receive Our CSBG funding?
Fiscal Year funding is not available before October 1. Funding allocations are based on the Federal budget. Congress first has to pass a budget for the upcoming Fiscal Year. Once Congress passes a budget, the President must sign it, and then the allocation process can begin. Once the CSBG Tribal Plan and application review process has been completed, the Office of Mandatory Grants (OMG) is notified of funding approval. A Notice of Grant Award letter is then sent to the CSBG Tribal Program Contact. This is the official document that states the amount awarded and the period covered. Grant awards are allocated quarterly and are based on the availability of funds as appropriated by Congress.
CSBG & Public Law 102-477
The Indian Employment, Training, and Related Services Demonstration Act of 1992 (P. L. 102-477), as amended, was enacted to:
- Demonstrate how Indian tribal governments can integrate the employment, training, and related services they provide in order to improve the effectiveness of those services;
- Reduce joblessness in Indian communities; and
- Serve tribally-determined goals consistent with the policies of self-determination.
- IM 146: CSBG & Public Law 102-477: The IM provides instructions for CSBG recipients interested in including CSBG funding in a Public Law 102-477 consolidated plan.
- CSBG & PL 102-477 Webinar Recording: A recorded, detailed webinar discussing Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) & Public Law 102-477.
- Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) 477 Key Points: A fact sheet highlighting the key points of the CSBG 102-477.