USDA Rural Development is a branch of the Unites States Department of Agriculture whose mission is to improve the quality of life in rural America. They provide loans, loan guarantees and grants to support vital services such as housing, health care, water, electric, communication and other necessary infrastructure. They also offer loans to businesses and supply technical assistance to farmers. They even have programs to help individual residents buy their own homes.
The Rural Community Development Initiative (RCDI) Grant
The Rural Community Development Initiative (RCDI) is a grant specifically for rural communities to develop their capacity for housing, community and economic development. Recipients of the RCDI grants are intermediary agencies who work directly with nonprofit community-based housing and development organizations, low-income rural communities and federally recognized tribes. Eligible activities include, but are not limited to, training sub-grantees to provide assistance with:
- Technical assistance for capacity building for housing, community facilites or community and economic development
- Developing the capacity of recipients to provide technical assistance for community facilities projects
- Strategic plan development
- Accessing alternative funding sources
- Board Training
- Training expenses and training-related travel costs for recipients
- Creating training tools such as videos, workbooks, reference guides
- Effective fund raising techniques
Selected Past Recipients
- As an intermediary of the RCDI, GROW South Dakota helped the South Dakota Native Homeownership Coalition increase homeownership among Native Americans in South Dakota.
- Another intermediary, Red Wind Consulting used the award to implement new homeless programs for veterans and domestic abuse survivors via the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Housing Authority.
- Five counties in California received technical assistance and training for water and wastewater services through Self-Help Enterprises.
- Minnesota’s Habitat for Humanity used their award to expand training to local chapters in the areas of board development, family services, financial management, fundraising, green building and ReStore operations
- The national health based nonprofit Capital Link provided technical assistance and training to local nonprofits to support 15 rural health centers in 6 different states.
- Appalachian residents in Tennessee are learning financial fitness thanks to a grant given to the Appalachian Community Federal Credit Union.
State and local government, consortia, tribal organizations, nonprofits including faith based and philanthropic foundations, and public intermediary organizations such as community development agencies. Partnerships between organizations are encouraged. The recipients and beneficiaries of the award must be located in an eligible rural area, but this is not necessary for the intermediary.
Matching funds are required. In kind is not accepted, but matching funds may be provided by a third party. In some instances, other federal funds may be used as well. Apply by July 25, 2017.
UPDATE: This article was orginally posted on 6/15/16 and was updated 6/2/17 to reflect the current opportunity and deadline.
If the RCDI grant is not a fit for you right now, explore the many other programs USDA Rural Development has available for rural communities and their residents.