$15 Million to Foster Rural Job Creation and Business Innovation
Today the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Commerce announced their collaborative Rural Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge grant competition. This competitive grant opportunity will award $15 million in funding to approximately 20 rural communities plus a package of discrete technical assistance resources from nine other federal agencies. Two other funding partners will provide funds for their specific regions: the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Delta Regional Authority. Applications are due on May 9, 2012.
The Rural Jobs Accelerator is a federal inter-agency initiative of the Obama Administration designed to support bottom-up, regional economic development strategies by providing rural regions with resources to plan and implement coordinated, flexible, regionally-customized activities to support job creation. The objectives of the Rural Jobs Accelerator are to:
- Accelerate distressed rural communities’ ability to create jobs and strengthen their regional economies, and
- Help rural communities identify and maximize local assets, and connect to regional opportunities and self-identified clusters that demonstrate high-growth potential.
To be eligible for an award, projects must benefit rural communities, but the applicant is not required to be located in a rural area. Nonprofits, higher education institutions, tribes and state and local governments can collaborate to apply for funding. Although businesses are not eligible to apply directly, applicants can also partner with the private sector on implementation.
Interested in learning more? USDA will host a webinar on Tuesday, March 20th from 3-4:30 pm ET for prospective applicants. Register here.
The Council has been advising our partners at USDA about possible roles of foundations in assisting their communities to prepare a competitive grant application and lauds this innovative approach across federal funders. While this funding can present a unique leverage opportunity for interested rural philanthropic funders, funders know that lack of capacity in rural communities, particularly in high poverty regions, can frequently be a barrier to successful procurement of federal funds. The Council’s Public-Philanthropic Partnership (PPP) team is ready to assist funders to help their communities for this important opportunity! Members with further questions or seeking assistance from the Council’s PPP team should email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.