Rural Connections Blog

  • Photo of river and trail

    Little Kanawha River in WV Pioneer Community Network

    On December 5, 2023, the West Virginia Pioneer Community Network held a meeting with the stakeholders of the Little Kanawha River Trail project to introduce the project partners and learn each other’s roles within the project as they are both an integral part of the Pioneer Trail Towns signature project. The project is a regional conceptualization that will help promote and guide future connections of the Pioneer Trail Towns System.

    • Community Development
  • Group photo of Speakers and Attendees pose with commemorative certificates from Senator Cortez Masto and Senator Jacky Rosen.

    $27 Million Groundbreaking Celebrated in RPN Community Network

    The USDA Rural Development ReConnect Program provides funding to bring internet to rural communities across America, with $27 million being awarded to Uprise Fiber to bring high-speed internet access to Lovelock, Nevada.

    • Broadband & Telecommunications
  • Photo of meeting participants

    West Virginia’s Engagement to celebrate RPN’s one-year anniversary

    On November 14th, the West Virginia Pioneer Community Network held a full partner meeting at Glenville State University to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the Rural Partners Network. The day kicked off with welcoming remarks from David Hutchison, Vice President for Advancement & Governmental Affairs, Glenville State University and Executive Director, GSU Foundation, followed by updates from Lee Jones, Executive Director of the Rural Partners Network, and Christine Sorensen, National Lead for Engagement of the Rural Partners Network. 

    Participants at the event were able to network, ask questions of presenters, and speak about their projects. The most pivotal moment of the day was when Executive Director of Friends of Cheat, Amanda Pitzer, asked the network members how many of them sat on multiple boards or held multiple jobs in the community. The number of raised hands was incredible and demonstrated the tireless work of Central West Virginians working hard every to make a positive impact in their communities. West Virginia RPN continues to support and connect resources to central West Virginia communities so that they can make a difference!

    • Community Development
    • Education
    • Utilities- Other
  • Image of wind turbines and solar panels

    Rural Remote Federal Energy Funding Guide

    Ever wish you had a decoder when looking through federal programs and trying to decide what to apply for? Then this new energy funding guide for rural and remote communities looking to plan or build clean energy projects can help!

    The Federal Energy Funding for Rural and Remote Areas: A Guide for Communities is a 30-page document published by the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations (OCED). It includes general tips on how to plan and prepare to apply for federal funding opportunities, as well as summaries of the many federal clean energy programs available to rural and remote communities.

    Sections of the energy funding guide include, “Questions to Ask Before Applying for Federal (or Any) Funding”; clear descriptions of terms like “technical assistance,” “cooperative agreements,” or “prizes”; and resources specifically for federally recognized tribes.

    We hear frequently that small communities could use additional support with navigating federal opportunities. Alongside similar resources like USDA’s pocket guides or the Getting Started Guide for energy communities, we hope this energy funding guide helps your rural or remote community find the federal government support you need to benefit from clean energy opportunities.

    Questions? Email To learn more about DOE OCED’s Energy Improvements in Rural or Remote Areas Program, visit

    • Energy

    An Article Summary of USDA Research on Impacts of USDA's Community Facilities Program: A Fortuitous Assistance to Rural America During COVID-19

    Authors: Tamara Telles, MPH, Kellie Kubena, and Julia H. Cho, PhD 


    The COVID-19 pandemic had a profound impact on the United States, with a death toll surpassing 540,000 by March 19, 2021, as noted at the time of the analysis in the article. Rural communities have faced unique challenges while also finding unique opportunities as a result of the pandemic.  Limited access to care and aging populations increased vulnerability to COVID-19, while less dense population and distance from urban centers initially spared rural areas from the worst of COVID-19 impacts.  Moving into the future, rural populations must think about how to manage community public health with some residents that cannot stay home when ill such as those in agriculture, food processing, or service jobs or where residents must travel farther for care especially elder or specialized care. Amid these challenges, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has played a pivotal role in supporting rural America. The USDA's Rural Development (RD) mission area aims to enhance rural prosperity and the quality of life in rural America. One of the prominent programs is the Community Facilities (CF) Program, which has proven to be a valuable assistance for rural areas during the pandemic as it turned out to have prepared rural America for unforeseen healthcare calamity. The CF program focuses on financing community facilities and infrastructure development in rural areas, encompassing healthcare facilities and related services.  As a result, USDA’s Rural Development Innovation Center and USDA’s Economic Research Service worked together to better understand how investment by USDA’s CF Program impacted the outcomes related to COVID-19 in rural communities.

    • Health Services
    • Public Safety