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USDA Seeks Applications for Grants to Increase Economic Opportunity and Improve the Quality of Life in Rural Areas

Vicki Schurman
Release Date
Aug 14, 2014

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA is seeking applications for grants that will be awarded to organizations (referred to as the Intermediary) to provide critical financial and technical assistance to recipients to develop and strengthen their capacity to carry out housing, community facilities and community and economic development projects.

"Many rural nonprofits often need capital and technical assistance to carry out their missions," Vilsack said. "These grants will provide both of these components through local and regional organizations that are experts at delivering such services."

Here is an example of how the RCDI program is helping rural Nebraska communities. The Nebraska Enterprise Fund (NEF) at Oakland, Neb. has used RCDI funding for capacity training and direct, one-on-one technical assistance to GROW and REAP.  The assistance included how to provide training to micro/small businesses in rural Nebraska and continue to build regional sharing networks for business development resource providers.  Those include local, rural economic development organizations and chambers of commerce or Main Street organizations that also assist businesses.

USDA is making nearly $6 million available to qualified organizations under the Rural Community Development Initiative (RCDI).

The Intermediary must be a qualified private, nonprofit (including faith-based and community organizations and philanthropic organizations), or public (including tribal) organization that provides financial and technical assistance to multiple recipients (nonprofit community-based housing and development organization, a low-income rural community or a federally recognized Tribe).

The Intermediary organizations are required to provide matching funds at least equal to the RCDI grant. The grants do not go directly to business recipients but rather through qualified intermediaries.

The deadline for submitting RCDI applications is November 12, 2014. Applications must be submitted to the USDA Rural Development state office where the applicant's headquarters are located. More information about the program and how to apply is available on page 47427 of the August 13, 2014 Federal Register.

President Obama's historic investments in rural America have made our rural communities stronger. Under his leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America's economy, small towns and rural communities.