In April 2022, Rural Development launched the Rural Partners Network (RPN) to give rural communities equitable access to federal funds and opportunities. The RPN is a first-ever, government-wide collaboration of more than 20 federal agencies working together to address gaps in programming, elevate rural issues with decision makers, and create more opportunities for rural people to thrive. This is a tall order to fill, and the progress we achieved so far is making a difference.
Here is what rural leaders are seeing from RPN:
- Rural communities have a vision and are full of dedicated people that make up America’s spirit and character. Our RPN team is working directly with local champions to identify community-driven solutions, navigate programs, and develop successful applications for funding.
We are currently working in more than 30 communities in 11 states and territories. In the coming months, we plan to expand our efforts to other communities including under-resourced rural communities and Native American Tribes.
- Our collaborations with rural communities will help us identify and elevate rural priorities, barriers to program access, and investment opportunities. We will share this information directly with policy and program leaders through the Rural Prosperity Interagency Policy Council. Co-led by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Domestic Policy Council, this group is working to ensure our policymaking and program development address rural priorities and needs.
For example, the USDA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently announced the Closing America’s Wastewater Access Gap Community Initiative. This program will help underserved rural communities identify and pursue federal funding opportunities they can use to plan and build safe, reliable wastewater systems.
- The RURAL.gov website will serve as a one-stop shop for information on federal programs, resources for rural communities, and strategies that are working across the nation. Our new and improved website will launch later this month. I invite you to visit RURAL.gov and give us your feedback so we can continue to provide you with the resources you need and want.
I am proud of the work we’ve done so far, and we are just getting started. We have a lot of new staff coming on board who will work on the ground in rural communities. We are compiling and streamlining information so you can find federal program information, new tools, and resources that support rural community development. I look forward to sharing more progress with you soon.