There are many different organizations that offer financial help for first responders! From grants to emotional support to discounted homes, we’ve found a list of programs that can help you save money and get free stuff.
In this article, we’re going to review 10 ways that you can get financial help for first responders. We’ll introduce the programs, explain who qualifies, and tell you how to apply.
Who are first responders?
The government defines the term “first responder” in Homeland Security Presidential Directive 8. In this section, first responders are defined as “those individuals who in the early stages of an accident are responsible for the protection and preservation of life, property, evidence, and the environment.”
First responders can include:
- Emergency Medical Providers
- Hazmat Responders
- Police & Public Safety Officers
- Police Officers
- Public Works Employees
- Search & Rescue Personnel
Basically, anyone whose job requires them to respond first to an emergency situation can be considered a first responder. That being said, some of the programs listed in this article have a more limited definition of this term so it’s important to read each description carefully.
How to Get Financial Help for First Responders
Of course, all that knowledge is useless unless you know where to go for help. If you or a loved one meets the definition of a first responder, then please browse the following resources to find out how you can get financial assistance.
Cell Phone Discounts
Many cell phone companies offer monthly discounts to eligible first responders.
For example, T-Mobile offers a Magenta Plan for anyone who current works, volunteers, or is a pensioned retiree who worked as a first responder. Family members of eligible people who were lost in the line of duty are also eligible for these special plans.
Verizon also offers a First Responder Discount to those who work as firefighters, EMTs, EMS and law enforcement. Families are also eligible if their qualifying relative died in the line of duty.
First Responders Children’s Foundation
FRCF offers financial help for first responders and their families when they experience a hardship. They have disbursed nearly 10,000 grants since 2020.
In order to be eligible, you must meet the following criteria:
- You must live in the United States.
- You must be a first responder.
- You must be experiencing housing instability or an unforeseen childcare emergency.
Please note that this organization will require you to submit either an ID badge or letter proving your employment before they will process your application. According to their rules, only the following employees are considered to be first responders:
- 911 Dispatchers
- Emergency and ICU Staff
- Emergency Medical Technicians
- Police Officer
In order to apply, you will need to apply online. While you’re on their website, don’t forget that they also offer bereavement assistance, scholarships, and free holiday toys as well!
Good Neighbor Next Door
Good Neighbor Next Door is one of the best programs that offers financial help for first responders. This program helps law enforcement offers, firefighters and EMTs purchase homes for 50% off the list price!
In order to be eligible for this program, you must be employed as one of the following:
- Law enforcement officer
- PreK-12th Grade Teacher
You must meet other requirements as well. For example, you must purchase a home in an eligible area and you must commit to living there for at least 36 months.
Unfortunately, only certain homes are eligible for sale through this program. You can learn more about it on the HUD website.
HERO is a nonprofit organization that provides emotional support, financial assistance and other services to first responders and their immediate family members. Their goal is to support the emotional and mental health of first responders who may be struggling.
To qualify for assistance from HERO, either you or a family member must be employed in one of the following professions:
- Search and Rescue
- Emergency Medical Services (as an EMT or Paramedic)
The HERO Assistance Fund can be used to cover lost wages, transportation to and from treatments, hotel and transportation costs for family members and more. The goal of this program is to provide financial help for first responders who are in a treatment program because of the mental and emotional demands of the job. If you need help, be sure to reach out to them by sending an email to [email protected] with the words “Assistance Fund” in the subject line.
The Michael Dean Scholarship Fund can family members who loved a first responder who died due to suicide or overdose. The scholarship is named after Michael Deal, a first responder who lost his life to suicide. The scholarship is awarded every year in the spring, so you need to make sure you apply by April 1st. You can apply by emailing [email protected] with “Scholarship Fund” in the subject line.
This organization provides a variety of other services, including a peer support warmline that you can reach at (844) 833-HERO.
Community Foundation (Gulf Coast)
The Gulf Breeze First Responders Crisis Fund can provide up to $2,000 in financial assistance for first responders who serve the Gulf Breeze community. Eligible applicants can only receive one grant per year unless they sustain multiple personal injuries that put them out of work.
The funds will be given directly to a vendor. You can choose to use these funds to help with your mortgage, utilities, telephone bill, or other expenses.
If you would like to apply for this grant, you will need to follow the instructions from Community Foundation of Northwest Florida.
JAVELAN (Iowa & Nebraska)
Service dogs are expensive. If you are a retired first responder in eastern Nebraska or western Iowa, you may be able to receive one for a very reduced cost from the JAVELAN program.
In order to be eligible, you must be a military veteran or retired first responder who has been diagnosed with PTSD, traumatic brain injury, or another physical or emotional disability.
Learn more on the First Responders Foundation website.
Other Hardship Grants
Don’t forget to browse our website for other ways that you can save on your utilities, get help with your rent and so much more!
Get Extra Help for Your Organization
Although grants for individual first responders are relatively rare, there are many organizations that are willing to provide financial help for first responder teams and departments. If your group needs help, consider contacting one of these.
Enbridge provides financial assistance to departments in Canada and the United States through their Safe Community First Responder Program. You can apply online.
Firehouse Subs Foundation
Firehouse Subs Foundation also provides lifesaving equipment and assistance to first responders and related organizations. They have donated over $77 million to more than 6,000 organizations.
Grants are awarded quarterly but only 600 applications are accepted before the application portal closes. You can apply online.
Gary Sinise Foundation
The Gary Sinise Foundation has awarded more than 500 emergency relief grants to police, firefighters and EMTs. Another 1,135 grants have been disbursed to help provide first responder training. They’ve also donated over 14,500 pieces of essential equipment as well!
If you want help from the Gary Sinise Foundation, you will need to use their application form. Their documentation states that grants are reserved for departments and can only be received once per year.
Whether you are looking for financial help for first responders as individuals or as a department, we’ve found resources that can help you. From $2,000 grants for individuals to gear donation for departments, there are a lot of options out there. Communities love to support their emergency personnel and the organizations listed in this article are some of the best.