Program 101

Program Status: Applications are being accepted
Application Deadline: Paper: June 2, 2017 | Electronic: May 26, 2017

What does this program do?
The Rural Cooperative Development Grant program helps improve the economic condition of rural areas by helping non-profit corporations or higher education institutions in the startup, expansion or operational improvement of rural cooperatives and other mutually-owned businesses through cooperative development. Grants are awarded through a national competition. Each fiscal year, applications are requested through a notice published in the Federal Register and through an announcement posted on

Who may apply for this program?
Nonprofit corporations and institutions of higher education are eligible to apply for this program. Public bodies, for-profit business, and individuals are not eligible.

Estimated Program Funding:  $5.8 million

Maximum Grant Amount: $200,000

Matching Funds Requirement: 25% of total project costs (5% for 1994 institutions)

How may funds be used?
Grant and matching funds can be used for developing and operating a Rural Cooperative Development Center. Examples of technical and other services that the Centers can provide:

  • Conducting feasibility studies
  • Developing business plans
  • Providing leadership and operational improvement training
  • Facilitating strategic planning

Note that the Center can be located in any area, but the individuals and business assisted must be located in an eligible rural area.

How do we get started?
Before you apply:

  • Request a Data Universal Number System (DUNS) number if your organization doesn’t already have one.  It should not take more than a few business days to get your number.  However, you should plan on requesting it at least a month before the application deadline because you’ll need that number for the next pre-application step (see below).
  • Register your organization with the System for Award Management (SAM) if you aren’t already registered.  The registration is free, but you need to complete several steps.  It’s a good idea to start the registration process at least a month before any application deadline.  Before you start the registration process, we suggest reading through the HELP materials available on the SAM website.  Then, you’ll need to create an account.  After you create your account by setting up a user id and password, you can register your organization.  Remember, you’ll need your DUNS number to complete your registration.  Also, make a note of your Commercial And Government Entity (CAGE) code and expiration date because you’ll need those for your application.

Forms & Resources

  • Select the Forms & Resources tab to access program forms and resource information.

Who can answer questions?
If you have questions, you can contact your nearest Rural Development Office.
Will I Need to Send Any Reports if I Receive a Grant? 
If you receive a grant, you will need to send regular financial and performance reports.  Your grant agreement will tell you how often you need to send the reports, what forms you need to use, and what information you need to put in the reports.

Where Can I Get More Information about the Program?
In addition to many Federal regulations, the Rural Cooperative Development Grant (RCDG) program has a regulation that is just for this program.  It contains details about the program’s purpose, what you can and can’t do with grant money, application requirements, and information about how applications will be selected for funding.  Remember that you need to read the Federal Register Notice to get all the details about how to apply, but the program regulation also has useful information that you will need before applying for a grant.

Forms & Resources

Application Forms

NOTE: If state specific forms are not shown above, please refer to the application materials listed below to start the process of applying. Please ensure that your state is selected in the dropdown menu above to find the State Office contact information for this program and speak to a Business Programs Specialist before attempting to fill out any forms or applications. This will save you valuable time in the process.

Additional Requirement:
Please read the Federal Register notice for the details on what is needed for an application. Make sure you begin gathering the required information at least one month before the application deadline because you may need to provide letters of commitment or support from other organizations, a work plan and budget, and other information that will take you some time to research or write. You may also need to complete required forms. You can get copies of those forms from your nearest Rural Development Office.