This listing focuses on funding and technical assistance programs for community improvement. We will continue to add programs and resources for rural communities.
Agriculture and Forestry
Community Forest Program
Administered by the U.S. Forest Service, this competitive grant program provides financial assistance to Tribal entities, local governments, and qualified conservation nonprofits to acquire and establish community forests. Participating communities can boost economic development by supporting active forest management, ensuring access to clean water, protecting wildlife habitats, providing educational opportunities, and championing public access for recreation.
Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production Grants
These USDA planning and implementation grants help eligible nonprofits, local and Tribal government organizations, Soil and Water Conservation Districts, and school districts improve access to local foods. The program supports innovative agricultural practices such as community gardens, urban farms and agroforests, rooftop farms, food forests, orchards, outdoor vertical production, green walls, indoor farms, greenhouses, high-tech vertical technology farms, and hydroponic, aeroponic, and aquaponic farm facilities.
Broadband and Telecommunications
Community Connect Grants
This program offers financial assistance to eligible applicants to provide broadband service in economically challenged rural areas where service does not exist. Funds can be used to build broadband infrastructure to serve residential and business customers in a proposed funded service area (PFSA), and to establish a community center to provide free public broadband access for at least two years.
Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grants
This competitive program helps rural communities use advanced telecommunications technology to connect to each other – and the world – overcoming the effects of remoteness and low population density. Funds can be used to buy end-user equipment (such as interactive video or audio hardware, computer hardware, network components, and software, or similar infrastructure) used to deliver distance learning and telemedicine services in eligible areas. Funds also can pay for certain types of instructional programming or technical assistance and training. See a map of recently-funded DLT projects.
This program offers loans, grants, and loan-grant combinations to eligible recipients to get fixed, terrestrial broadband to areas of rural America that currently lack sufficient access. Funds can be used to build, improve, or acquire existing broadband and terrestrial satellite broadband facilities and equipment. Reasonable pre-application expenses also can be covered. Loan funding (100 percent loan requests, only) also can support the acquisition of an existing system that currently provides insufficient broadband access.
Watch the ReConnect Program Applicant Webinar
Rural Broadband Loans, Loan and Grant Combinations, and Loan Guarantees
This program offers loans, loan and grant combinations, and loan guarantees to eligible applicants for the construction, improvement, or purchase of facilities and equipment needed to provide service at the broadband lending speed (the minimum bandwidth requirement) in eligible rural areas. In certain instances and with some restrictions, funds also can be used to refinance existing USDA Rural Development Rural Utilities Service debt. Among other terms, at least 15 percent of the households in the proposed funded service area must not have service.
Telecommunications Infrastructure Loans and Loan Guarantees
This program provides funds to build, maintain, improve, or expand telephone and broadband service in rural areas. In certain instances, funds also can support refinancing. Direct loans are fixed at current U.S. Treasury rates depending on loan maturity at the time of each advance. Loan guarantees (up to 80 percent) encourage private lenders to extend credit. And – at the sole discretion of USDA Rural Development Rural Utilities Service – hardship loans can help applicants meet financial feasibility requirements in underserved areas.
Community Facilities Direct Loans and Grants
These programs help finance construction of – or improvements to – essential community facilities such as hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, schools, childcare centers, libraries, and town halls, among others. Funds also can be used to purchase necessary equipment and pay for related project expenses, and to buy or build electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure or renewable energy systems for use in community facilities. CF program funds cannot support private, commercial, or business undertakings.
Intermediary Relending Program
This program provides 1 percent loans to local lenders (“intermediaries”) who then re-lend to businesses to improve economic conditions and create jobs in rural communities. Funds can be used to finance rural businesses and community development projects. The maximum loan to borrowers is $400,000.
Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC) Community Development Programs
The Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC) is a partnership between the federal government and the States of Maine, New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont.
- State Economic & Infrastructure Development Investment Program (SEID). This annual grant provides up to $1 million for infrastructure and up to $350,000 for non-infrastructure projects that address business and workforce development, basic health care, resource conservation, tourism, recreation, reduction in out migration, and poverty reduction. Funds may be used for a range of activities. State, Tribal, regional, and local government; state commissions and authorities; and nonprofits may apply. Match of 20%-50% is required, depending on your county’s level of distress. Reach out to the NBRC contact for your state for more information.
- Regional Forest Economy Partnership (RFEP). This competitive grant supports a variety of activities to help rural communities transition the forest-based industry and its workforce to new technologies and viable business models. Awards will range from $250,000 to $1,00,000. Match required depending on the distress criteria for the county. Local and Tribal governments; political subdivisions of NBRC states; and nonprofits may apply. Reach out to the NBRC contact for your state for more information.
Rural Community Development Initiative
This competitive program helps nonprofit housing and community development organizations, lower-income rural communities, and federally recognized Tribes support housing, essential community facilities, and economic development in rural areas. Examples of things grant funds can cover include training sub-grantees to conduct homeownership or minority business entrepreneur education, providing technical assistance to sub-grantees on strategic plan development, researching and identifying alternative funding sources, preparing boards of directors, and creating training tools such as videos, workbooks or reference guides. Grants range from $50,000 - $250,000, and there is a matching fund requirement equal to the amount of the grant award.
Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant Program
The REDLG program supports economic development and job creation in rural areas by providing zero-interest loans to eligible local utilities. Funds are then used to establish revolving loan funds (RLFs) that make pass-through funding available to ultimate recipients that back projects to create or retain rural jobs. Among other things, RLFs can support:
- Business incubators
- Technical assistance
- Job creation or enhancement
- Facilities and equipment for rural medical care
Grant terms are 10 years and require a 20 percent match from the utility. The grant must be repaid when the RLF is expended or terminated.
Rural Placemaking Innovation Challenge Program
This initiative provides planning support, technical assistance, and training to encourage placemaking activities in rural communities. Funds can be used to help build capacity for broadband access, preserve cultural and historic structures, and support the development of housing, transportation, and recreational spaces. Up to $4 million in funding is available, with a maximum grant award of $250,000.
RPIC is open to federally recognized Tribes and Tribal organizations, institutions of higher learning such as Land Grant Colleges and Universities (1862, 1890, and 1994), Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and Hispanic-Serving Institutions, among others. Nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and small, private businesses that meet size standards established by the U.S. Small Business Administration also are eligible to apply. Planning must directly benefit cities or towns with populations of 50,000 or fewer.
Crisis Counseling Assistance and Training Program
Spearheaded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA – part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services), this program provides short-term disaster relief grant for states, U.S. territories, and federally- recognized Tribes. Funded and implemented by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), these grants support mental health assistance and training activities in presidentially declared major disaster areas.
Voluntary Agency Coordination
FEMA provides coordination to help the local agencies that are among the first to provide survivor support after a disaster and continue to help throughout the recovery period. FEMA’s Voluntary Agency Coordinators help communities conduct unmet needs assessments and organize early coordination efforts. They also develop and guide local long-term recovery groups created to help individuals and families with the recovery process.
Rural Business Development Grants
This competitive program helps public bodies, government entities, nonprofits, and Tribes provide technical assistance and training to small rural businesses in rural areas and cities or towns with populations of 50,000 or fewer. Examples of what can be funded include project plans, business counseling and training, market research, feasibility studies, professional/technical reports, and other activities that will allow small rural businesses identified in the application save or create jobs. Match is not required but recommended.
Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program
USDA provides loans and grants to Microenterprise Development Organizations (MDOs) who then relend the funds to microenterprises with 10 or fewer employees. The program helps small, rural enterprises get started and grow in rural areas and cities or towns with populations of 50,000 or fewer. Funds may also be used to provide training and technical assistance to microloan borrowers and micro-entrepreneurs. There is a match requirement of 15 percent for grants.
Rural Postsecondary and Economic Development Program
RPED grants help improve rates of postsecondary enrollment, persistence, and completion among rural students through development of high-quality career pathways aligned to high-skill, high-wage, and in-demand industry sectors and occupations in the region. The program does not require matching funding. Eligible institutions of higher education (IHEs) apply through grants.gov to be considered for funding.
College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP)
CAMP assists students who are migratory or seasonal farmworkers (or children of such workers) to enroll in their first year of undergraduate studies at an IHE. The funding supports completion of the first year of studies. The program does not require matching funding. Application Cycle: Annual.
Full-Service Community Schools Program
FSCS provides school districts and the Bureau of Indian Education (in partnership with one or more community-based organization, nonprofit, or public or private entity) support for the planning, implementation, and operation of full-service community schools that improve the coordination, integration, accessibility, and effectiveness of services for children and families, particularly for children attending high-poverty schools, including high-poverty rural schools. The program requires matching funds, but it does not set a level of required match and the requirement can be met through in-kind services. Application Cycle: Annual.
High School Equivalency Program (HEP)
The HEP helps migratory or seasonal farmworkers (or immediate family members of such workers) to obtain the equivalent of a secondary school diploma and subsequently to gain improved employment, enter into military service, or be placed in an institution of higher education or other postsecondary education or training. The program does not require matching funding.
Application Cycle: Annual. Next Application Anticipated Spring 2023.
Rural Education Achievement Program - Small, Rural School Achievement (SRSA)
SRSA grants help small, rural school districts fund initiatives aimed at improving student academic achievement. The program is open to eligible small, rural school districts serving 600 or fewer students. The program does not require matching funding. Eligible school districts receive an email directly from the U.S. Department of Education containing a link to apply for the grant. Application Cycle: Annual.
Rural Education Achievement Program - Rural and Low-income School (RLIS)
RLIS grants are awarded to state educational agencies (SEAs) to provide rural and low-income school districts with financial assistance for initiatives aimed at improving student achievement. Eligible school districts should work with their SEA to learn about application procedures. The program does not require matching funding. Application Cycle: Annual.
Employment & Workforce
Grow local industry, develop the workforce for the future, and help local residents begin secure, profitable careers through Department of Labor apprenticeship programs. You can locate an apprenticeship program or work with employers and industry partners to find or create a program that meets the community’s needs. Apprenticeship.gov connects career seekers, employers, sponsors, educators, and training providers to the resources and tools they need to find an apprenticeship, start a program, or become a training provider. Check out our page on virtual apprenticeships and examples of rural programs in advanced manufacturing, agriculture, education, construction, healthcare, information technology, and more.
Rural Innovation Stronger Economy (RISE) Grants
This is a competitive grants of $500,000 to $2 million to nonprofit, state and Tribal entities, higher education, and public bodies to help local people get high-wage jobs in new or existing local industries. Funds may be used to build or support a business incubator, provide worker training, and other activities that develop a base of skilled workers and improve their opportunities. A 20-percent match is required.
Workforce Opportunity for Rural Communities (WORC): A Grant Initiative for the Appalachian, Delta, and Northern Border Regions:
This Department of Labor grant helps rural communities, particularly in the Appalachian and Delta regions, address the employment and training needs of the local and regional workforce. Funds may be used to develop and deliver training and work-based learning and purchase, provide participation incentives, or to lease equipment and facilities. Applications are accepted on an annual basis from state, local, and tribal government; special districts; higher education; and nonprofits.
Energy and Energy Efficiency
Energy Efficiency and Conservation Loan Program
Utilities that serve rural areas with populations of 20,000 or less can borrow from USDA to re-lend the money to commercial, industrial, and residential consumers in their service areas. For instance, utilities can set up on-bill financing programs that help their customers install energy efficiency measures and repay the utility in their electric bills. Funds can be used to conduct energy audits, consumer education, and outreach programs for customers. Or, the utility can make other investments to reduce peak demand from customers, modify the electric load, or encourage more efficient use of existing electric facilities.
Energy Storage for Social Equity Technical Assistance Program
If your community experiences regular problems with its energy system, the Department of Energy can help you determine if energy storage solutions can improve your access to affordable electricity. If you want to move forward with an energy storage project, DOE can also help with technical and financial planning. This program is open to a wide range of organizations, including community development organizations, economic development organizations, non-profits, non-governmental organizations, local governments, commercial entities, tribal organizations and departments, utilities and electric co-ops, and administrative departments such as school districts, water districts, sewer districts. Applications are currently closed but will be offered again in fiscal year 2023.
Energy Transitions Initiative Partnership Program
If your community is isolated from a reliable electrical grid or has frequent power failures, Department of Energy experts can provide strategic planning and implementation assistance for energy solutions. The direct technical assistance helps rural, island, and remote communities transform their energy systems and increase energy resilience. Applications are currently closed but there will be a new cycle of applications in fiscal year 2023.
Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP)
USDA grant to help owners of transportation fueling and fuel distribution facilities install, replace or upgrade facilities and equipment to give customers more environmentally friendly choices at the pump, including higher blends of ethanol, such as E15 and biodiesel, such as B20. Funds may be used to offset costs to install or upgrade fuel dispensers, storage tanks and systems, and other equipment. The grants also support fueling stations, convenience stores, hypermarket fueling stations, and fleet and fuel distribution facilities, including terminal operations and home heating oil distribution centers. Awards may be up to $5 million and require a 50-percent cost share.
Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) Energy Audit & Renewable Energy Development Assistance Grants
Competitive USDA grants to state, Tribal, higher education, rural electric cooperatives, and public power entities of up to $100,000. Funds are used to conduct energy audits and/or provide technical assistance to rural small businesses and agricultural producers for renewable energy development assistance in rural areas and towns of less than 50,000.
Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements Grants and Guaranteed Loans
Funding to help rural small businesses, and agricultural producers to purchase, install, and construct renewable energy systems or complete energy efficiency improvements. Grants may be as much as 25 percent of total eligible project costs, and guarantees may be made for loans up to 75 percent of total costs. • Combined grant and loan guarantee funding up to 75% of total eligible project costs.
Environment & Natural Resources
Recycling Education and Outreach
Increase collection rates and decrease contamination in your community. This EPA grant to nonprofits, public-private partnerships, and state, local, and Tribal government helps improve material recycling, recovery, management, and reduction. Funds can also be used for related public education and outreach. Funded projects should inform the public about residential or community recycling programs, provide information about the recycled materials that are accepted,
Put previously contaminated properties in your community back into productive use. EPA offers grants to conduct brownfields assessment and cleanup. Funds may also be used to establish loan funds, environmental job training, technical assistance, and research. State, local, and Tribal governments, and nonprofits and community development organizations are eligible to apply. Application guidance and time frames may vary, based on the type of Brownfields Program you apply for.
NRCS Watershed Programs
Several programs administered by USDA help communities improve land and water resources within watersheds as well as relieve imminent hazards to life and property in the event of a natural disaster. These programs include the Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations Program (WFPO), Watershed Rehabilitation Program (REHAB) and Emergency Watershed Protection Program (EWP). Project sponsors such as public agencies, local or Tribal government, and special districts collaborate with eligible landowners to apply. Contact the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service in your state.
Food and Nutrition
Community Food Projects Competitive Grant Program
USDA grants to eligible nonprofits to increase food security by bringing the whole food system together to assess strengths, establish linkages, and create systems that improve the self-reliance of community members over their food needs. Projects should meet the needs of low-income people by increasing their access to fresher, more nutritious food supplies; increase the self-reliance of communities in providing for their own food needs; promote comprehensive responses to local food, farm, and nutrition issues; plan for long-term solutions.
America's Farmers Grow Communities Project
Bayer Fund provides competitive grants of $5,000 to farmers to, in turn, direct the funds to charities in their communities. Eligible local charities work to improve science, health and nutrition. Eligible charities include FFA, 4-H, school STEM programs, food and nutrition programs, science outreach programs, maternal child and reproductive health support programs, and others.
USDA Regional Food Business Centers Program
USDA grant to fund the creation of Regional Food Business Centers that help producers access local and regional supply chains and link producers to wholesalers and distributors. The centers will provide technical assistance to access new markets and other funding and assistance. They will help small- and mid-sized producers in overcoming barriers to market access, with a focus on underserved farmers, ranchers, and food businesses. No match is required.
Emergency Rural Health Care Grants
USDA grants to public bodies, community-based nonprofits, and Tribes to address the economic challenges from the COVID-19 emergency. Funds may be used to support immediate health care needs, help prepare for a future pandemic event, increase access to quality health care services, or support food assistance through food banks and food distribution facilities. Contact the USDA Rural Development office serving your area for assistance. The program is available until funds are expended.
Rural Health Network Development Program
This grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) helps rural health networks adapt to the emerging trends in rural healthcare and meet the unique needs of the rural communities they serve. Funds may be used to improve health care access, expand capacity and services, enhance outcomes, and increase sustainability of health programs.
Continuum of Care to Address Unsheltered and Rural Homeless
HUD funding for efforts by nonprofit providers and state and local governments to quickly rehouse homeless individuals and families while minimizing the trauma and dislocation caused to homeless individuals, families and communities by homelessness. Includes funds set aside to address homelessness in rural communities.
Rural Capacity Building for Community Development and Affordable Housing Grants
U.S. HUD program which enhances the capacity and ability of rural housing development organizations, Community Development Corporations, Community Housing Development Organizations, rural local governments and Indian tribes to carry out affordable housing and community development activities in rural areas for the benefit of low-and moderate-income families and persons.
Housing Preservation Grants
USDA Rural Development grants to state and local government, Tribes, and nonprofits sponsoring organizations to provide low-interest loans or grants for the repair or rehabilitation of housing owned or occupied by low- and very-low-income rural citizens. Includes funds set aside to address homelessness in rural communities.
Programs not listed under categories but that may be used for broadband, energy, transportation, water and sewer systems, etc.
Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) - Area Development
Grants to states, local governments, and nonprofits in the region’s 423 counties across 13 states to support ARC strategic goals, including building Appalachia’s infrastructure. Funds may be used for a wide range of activities including wastewater construction or business workforce investment needs, with consideration for differing state level priorities. Match required based on ARC’s distressed county scale. Contact your State ARC Program Manager for application information.
Northern Border Regional Commission Infrastructure Funding
Grants to fund economic development and infrastructure projects throughout designated counties in the four-state service area.
Public Works Grants
U.S. Economic Development Administration grants to help distressed communities revitalize, expand, and upgrade their physical infrastructure. This program enables communities to attract new industry; encourage business expansion; diversify local economies; and generate or retain long-term, private-sector jobs and investment through the acquisition or development of land and infrastructure improvements needed for the successful establishment or expansion of industrial or commercial enterprises. Contact the EDA Economic Development Representative in your state to get started.
Solid Waste Management Grants
Competitive USDA grants for public entities, Tribes, academic institutions, and nonprofits to provide technical assistance or training to improve the planning and management of solid waste sites in rural areas and towns of 10,000 or less. Match is not required but recommended.
Military & Veterans
Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program (HVRP)
Help homeless veterans reintegrate into meaningful employment with HVRP, which includes the Incarcerated Veterans’ Transition Program, and the Homeless Female Veterans’ and Veterans’ with Children Program. HVRP prepares and places homeless veterans into jobs that are not therapeutic or subsidized, but rather part of the local competitive economy. Employment services are matched with other supportive services to address the needs and barriers that prevent homeless veterans from finding and retaining employment. Qualified public, private, for-profit, and nonprofit service providers can apply annually, or you can contact an existing grantee serving your area.
Virtual Living Room
Programs like the Virtual Living Room are what rural America is about—helping our communities and those who live there. Local telcos work with the Veterans Administration to establish a Virtual Living Room to give veterans in your community a comfortable, safe space to receive VA telehealth services—just like being at home. By offering a Virtual Living Room in an accessible location, your telco assists the heroes of our nation who may not have the access to broadband services they need to get proper care.
Community Wildfire Defense Grant Program
US Forest Service grants to local governments, Tribes, nonprofits, state forestry agencies, and Alaska Native Corporations are intended to help at-risk local communities and Tribes plan and reduce the risk against wildfire. The program prioritizes at-risk communities in an area identified as having high or very high wildfire hazard potential, are low-income, and/or have been impacted by a severe disaster.
Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities
FEMA provides cost-share for capability and capacity building, mitigation projects, and management costs to undertake hazard mitigation projects that reduce risks from disasters and natural hazards. Eligible states, territories, and federally recognized tribal governments can submit applications on behalf of local communities. Local governments should contact their State Hazard Mitigation Officer to learn about the priorities, deadlines, and additional requirements.
Flood Mitigation Assistance Grants
This competitive grant program administered by FEMA funds projects that reduce or eliminate the risk of repetitive flood damage to buildings insured by the National Flood Insurance Program. Funds may be used for project scoping, technical assistance, mitigation, and management. States, territories, and Tribes submit applications on behalf of local communities. Local governments should contact their State Hazard Mitigation Officer to learn about the priorities, deadlines, and additional requirements.
Enhanced Mobility of Seniors & Individuals with Disabilities
Help older adults and people with disabilities in your community get where they need to go. The US Department of Transportation provides funding to states to administer for rural projects. Contact your state department of transportation to access funds for:
- Buses and vans
- Wheelchair lifts, ramps, and securement devices
- Transit-related information technology systems, including scheduling/routing/one-call systems
- Mobility management programs
- Acquisition of transportation services
Airport Infrastructure, Air Traffic Facilities, and Airport Terminals Grants
US Department of Transportation funding for owners of public use National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems airports through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Funds may be used to upgrade air traffic control, runways, taxiways, safety and sustainability projects, as well as terminal, airport-transit connections and roadway projects.
All Stations Accessibility Program
US Department of Transportation funding to state and local government authorities through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Funds may be used to repair, improve, modify, retrofit, or relocate infrastructure of legacy stations or facilities for passenger use, including load‐bearing members that are an essential part of the structural frame, to meet or exceed current ADA standards for buildings and facilities; or for planning related to pursuing public transportation accessibility projects, assessments of accessibility, or assessments of planned modifications.
Low or No Emission Vehicle Program
US Department of Transportation funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to state and local governmental authorities for the purchase or lease of zero-emission and low-emission transit buses as well as acquisition, construction, and leasing of required supporting facilities.
Reconnecting Communities Pilot Program
This is the first-ever federal program dedicated to reconnecting communities that were previously cut off from economic opportunities by transportation infrastructure. Funding supports planning grants and capital construction grants, as well as technical assistance, to restore community connectivity through the removal, retrofit, mitigation, or replacement of eligible transportation infrastructure facilities.
Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements Program
This program funds projects that improve the safety, efficiency, and reliability of intercity passenger and freight rail.
Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation (SMART) Grants Program
The SMART program was established to provide grants to eligible public sector agencies to conduct demonstration projects focused on advanced smart community technologies and systems in order to improve transportation efficiency and safety.
National Culvert Removal, Replacement, and Restoration Grant Program
The Office of the Secretary's National Culvert Removal, Replacement and Restoration program provides supplemental funding for grants to a State, local government, or an Indian Tribe on a competitive basis for projects that replace, remove, and/or repair culverts or weirs.
Water and Wastewater Infrastructure
SEARCH Predevelopment Grants
Communities of 2,500 or less that need funding to plan improvements to the water or wastewater system can apply for this USDA grant. Funding is reserved for low-income communities and no match is required. Funding can pay for feasibility studies, preliminary design and engineering analysis, and/or technical assistance needed to apply for funds to build out water or waste disposal projects.
Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program & Loan Guarantees
A USDA loan guarantee can help your Tribe or rural community of 50,000 or less access infrastructure loans at affordable rates and terms. Direct USDA loans and grants are available for Tribes and communities of 10,000 or less with grants prioritized for the smaller, more economically challenged areas. These programs fund projects to improve water supply and distribution systems, as well as waste collection and treatment systems.
Water & Waste Disposal Predevelopment Planning Grants
Communities of 10,000 or less that need funding to plan improvements to the water or wastewater system can apply for this USDA grant. Funding is reserved for low-income communities. Matching funds of 25 percent are required. Funding can pay for feasibility studies, preliminary design and engineering analysis, and/or technical assistance needed to apply for funds to build out water or waste disposal projects.