Federal Resources for Rural America

The passage of the American Rescue Plan (ARP) provides new and expanded opportunities for rural America, and more federal legislation is forthcoming. On this webpage, Aspen CSG is collecting links and resources explaining federal opportunities for rural people and places. We are trying to be as rural-specific as possible with these resources, but some collect rural information alongside urban and suburban-relevant information. The understanding of how this bill will affect rural America is evolving, so check back regularly for more information.

Indigenous youth on the steps of the Capitol

Important new resources: The Rural Partners Network (RPN) and the Rural Playbook from the White House and USDA will improve access to funding and are critical steps to increasing capacity for rural communities.

RPN is a whole-of-government effort to put federal staff in underserved rural areas to help them access federal money and provide technical assistance. About 25 rural and tribal communities in Arizona, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, and New Mexico will participate in the first cohort. There are plans to expand to Nevada, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and tribal communities in Alaska by the end of August and eventually reach all 50 states if Congress approves funding.

The billions of dollars in local funding made available through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law are great in theory but less helpful to rural communities that typically struggle to apply for and manage federal assistance. That’s where the White House’s new Rural Playbook comes in. The aim is to equip state, local, tribal, and territorial governments with information on the “what, when, where, and how to apply” for infrastructure funds. Most importantly, it includes a cost-share section that helps applicants find resources, reduce match requirements, and other important tools to reduce the cost of accessing federal funding.


Events | Federal Resources | Tools | News and Analysis

Timely Events and Notices

May 20-21: Save the Date for the Regards to Rural Conference. Hosted by Rural Development Initiatives.

May 23-24: Placemaking in Small & Rural Communities Online Conference hosted by USDA RD.

May 24: Data Training Webinar: Food Access Research Atlas & Food Environment Atlas hosted by USDA ERS.

Sep 19-21: 2022 Prosperity Summit hosted by Prosperity Now.

Find past workshop recordings at the USDA Rural Development YouTube Channel.

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Federal Agencies Resources

Administration for Children and Families (ACF)
Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA)
    Department of Energy (DOE)
    • DOE offers free technical assistance for advancing Tribal energy projects to federally-recognized Indian Tribes and Tribal entities. Request assistance here.
      Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)

      NEW: DHHS’s Rural Public Health Workforce Training Network Technical Assistance Program seeks to help rural networks expand the public health workforce capacity by supporting job development, training and placement in rural communities. Deadline: June 8, 2022.

      Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
      • NEW: HUD is providing waivers and flexibilities from the requirements for Indian Housing Block Grant (IHBG), Indian Community Development Block Grant (ICDBG), and Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grant (NHHBG) grantees located in areas that are covered by Presidentially Declared Disasters (PDDs). Learn more here.
      • HUD has prepared a guide on CDBG-CV Rural Coronavirus Response. It describes and provides examples of how Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and Community Development Block Grant CARES Act (CDBG-CV) funds can be used for eligible activities to support issues facing rural areas. View here.
      • HUD’s Eviction Protection Grant Program can support experienced legal service providers in providing free legal assistance to low-income tenants who are at risk of eviction. View here.
          Economic Development Administration (EDA)
          • NEW: EDA and USDA have unveiled a new joint resource guide to help community organizations access USDA and EDA resources to build strategies to boost economic development in rural America. It covers Planning and Technical Assistance, Infrastructure and Broadband Expansion, Entrepreneurship and Business Assistance, and Workforce Development and Livability.
          • EDA is providing funding to help Indigenous communities recover economically from the pandemic through their Indigenous Communities Program. Deadline: September 30, 2022. Apply here.
          Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
          • NEW: The EPA has released a new Equity Action Plan to assess whether underserved communities and their members face systemic barriers in accessing benefits and opportunities through the federal government.
          • EPA Through the Environmental Justice Small Grants Program, the EPA has made available up to $1.6 million in American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding to support Tribal government efforts to establish or modify programs on environmental justice water and air quality issues. Proposal Deadline: May 20, 2022.
          • EPA will be providing $50 million in ARP funding available to improve ambient air quality monitoring for communities across the United States. Learn more here.
          Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
          • FCC’s Emergency Broadband Benefit program provides discounts for broadband service and specific technology purchases for eligible households. Apply here.
          Federal Transit Administration (FTA)
            Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
            • IRS is providing new and extended relief on various low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) requirements. These were issued in Notice 2022-05.
            National Institutes of Health (NIH)
            National Park Service (NPS)
            • NEW: NPS Tribal Heritage grants are providing funding to assist Indian Tribes, Alaskan Native Villages/Corporations, and Native Hawaiian Organizations in protecting and promoting their unique cultural heritage and traditions. Learn more here.
            United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development (USDA RD)
            • NEW: USDA and EDA have unveiled a new joint resource guide to help community organizations access USDA and EDA resources to build strategies to boost economic development in rural America. It covers Planning and Technical Assistance, Infrastructure and Broadband Expansion, Entrepreneurship and Business Assistance, and Workforce Development and Livability.
            • UPDATE: On April 27, 2022, USDA announced provisions for applications pending review, conditional commitments and loans financed under the initiative prior to Dec. 10. For further information about the provisions, see page 24857 of the Federal Register. Original announcement: The new OneRD Guarantee Loan Initiative allows communities to submit one application to gain access to four key programs: the Water and Waste Disposal Loan Guarantee Program; the Community Facilities Guaranteed Loan Program; the Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program; and the Rural Energy for America Guaranteed Loan Program. Learn more here.
            • NEW: The Biden-Harris administration has launched the new Rural Partners Network, a nationwide alliance of federal agencies and civic partners working to expand rural prosperity through job creation, infrastructure development, and community improvement.
            • NEW: USDA is inviting applications for its Socially Disadvantaged Groups Grant Program, which seeks to encourage job creation and business opportunities for socially disadvantaged groups in rural areas. Deadline: June 13, 2022. Apply here.
            • NEW: USDA RD’s Rural Cooperative Development Grant program is accepting applications to help rural America start, expand or improve rural cooperatives and other mutually-owned businesses. Deadline: June 6, 2022. Apply here.
            • NEW: USDA RD Bulletin on Conversions of Businesses into Cooperatives.
            • NEW: USDA RD ReConnect Program: Demonstration of the Public Filing Tool. It includes information on how to search for PNFs (Public Notice Filings), submit a Public Notice Response (PNR), subscribe to PNF notifications, and more.
            • NEW: USDA RD Resources for Rural Entrepreneurs: A Guide to Planning, Adapting, and Growing Your Business. View here.
            • NEW: USDA RD Walk Through Example explaining what they look for when reviewing the lenders annual income calculation. View here.
            • NEW: USDA RD Rural Energy Pilot Program (REPP) offers grants to assist rural communities in developing further renewable energy. Deadline for completed applications: July 18, 2022. Apply here.
            • Useful Link: USDA RD’s full list of grant and loan programs- from broadband to business development to water infrastructure- can be found by clicking this link.
            • USDA RD Business & Industry Loan Guarantees program gives lenders loan guarantees for their loans to rural businesses. Applications are accepted year-round. Learn more here.
            • USDA RD recently announced that they are seeking applications to support rural communities in regional economic and community development planning through the Strategic Economic and Community Development (SECD) initiative. This program includes several different types of grants in FY2022, including funding for community facilities, water, and wastewater disposal. Apply here.
            • USDA RD‘s Electric Infrastructure Loan Program is offering insured loans to finance the construction of electric distribution facilities in rural areas. Deadline: Ongoing. Apply here.
            • USDA RD created a guide on how rural communities can leverage USDA resources to build a stronger workforce. View here.
            • USDA RD unveiled a resource guide in both English and Spanish as part of National Preparedness Month to help rural communities seeking disaster resiliency and recovery assistance.
            • USDA RD Stakeholder Announcement to Prioritize Investments That Address Top Challenges in Rural Communities. Read it here.
            • USDA RD‘s telecommunications infrastructure program is providing financing for the construction, maintenance, improvement and expansion of telephone service and broadband in rural areas. Deadline: Ongoing. Apply here.
            • USDA RD Community Facilities Direct Loan & Grant Program provides affordable funding to develop essential community facilities in rural areas. Examples of community facilities include hospitals, courthouses, child care centers, museums, food pantries, and more. Deadline: ongoing. Apply here.
            • USDA RD Emergency Rural Health Care Grants are providing up to $500 million in grant funding to help broaden access to COVID-19 testing and vaccines, rural health care services, and food assistance through food banks and food distribution facilities. Deadline: until funds are expended. Learn more and apply here.
            • USDA RD recently announced that it is seeking applications to implement projects supported by regional economic and community development planning to help the people of rural America build back better. Read the news release.
            • USDA RD developed a resource guide for rural communities to develop their recreation economy. View the guide here.
            • USDA RD released a new resource guide to help rural community leaders start and expand employment opportunities and access resources to train, recruit and create a sustainable rural workforce. View and download the guide here.
            • USDA RD Water & Waste Disposal Grants can help reduce health risks caused by a lack of access to clean, affordable water and waste disposal on Tribes and Colonias. Deadline: Rolling. Apply here.
            • USDA RD Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program supports Microenterprise Development Organizations (MDOs) with training, technical assistance, loans, and grants. Apply here.
            United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Other
            • NEW: USDA Food Supply Chain Guaranteed Loan Program offers guaranteed loans for qualified lenders to finance food systems projects. Learn more here.
            • NEW: USDA‘s new Biofuel Producer Program contains $800 million to support biofuel producers and infrastructure. Read the news release here.
            • NEW: USDA Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) program provides USDA Foods to income-eligible households living on Indian reservations, and to American Indian households residing in approved areas near reservations or in Oklahoma. Many households use the FDPIR program as an alternate to SNAP, which may be not be accessible. Learn more here.
            • NEW: USDA will be providing $7.5 million in The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) grant awards to 29 states and territories in FY2022. Learn more about the grant program here.
            • USDA Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant (REDLG) Programs are providing zero-interest loans and grants to help local businesses create and retain jobs. Deadline: June 30, 2022. Find more details here.
            • ACF and USDA joint resource guide to strengthen and expand child care facilities in rural communities. Read it here.
            • USDA recently released a new economic research report: Impact of USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) on Rural and Urban Economies in the Aftermath of the Great Recession. Read the report.
            • USDA released a new Action Plan for Climate Adaptation and Resilience that outlines USDA’s plans to mitigate climate change and reduce climate impacts. Read it here.
            • USDA Announces Additional Aid for the Pandemic Assistance for Producers Initiative. Read the announcement here.
            • Official USDA website explaining ARP and funding that USDA will implement. Breaks it into four large sections: nutrition assistance, supporting farmers and strengthening food supply, ensuring equity for farmers of color, and strengthening infrastructure, housing and health care in rural America. American Rescue Plan
            • USDA Article Rural Poverty Has Distinct Regional and Racial Patterns. Read the article here.
            • USDA ERS recently updated their research on rural poverty and well-being. View the research here.
            US Senate Committee on Indian Affairs
              US Treasury
                White House
                • NEW: The White House released a new Housing Supply Action Plan to close the housing gap in 5 years, starting with the creation and preservation of hundreds of thousands of affordable housing units in the next three years.
                • Official White House website explanation of the American Rescue Plan. Case studies to see how the plan might affect you directly. White House’s “American Rescue Plan”
                Resources from Non-Federal Organizations

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                Tools for Rural Communities

                NEW: The Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool identifies disadvantaged communities across the US that are marginalized, underserved, and overburdened by pollution. Explore the tool here and learn more about how it works.

                NEW: Browse USDA RD programs by state; find grants, loans, and other types of assistance available in your state.

                NEW: Reminder for Rural Young People: File your taxes, pick up a $1,500 credit with the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) expansion!

                NEW: White House Release Fact Sheet: The Biden Administration’s Historic Investments To Create Opportunity and Build Wealth in Rural America.

                Congressional Research Service’s Farm Bill Primer: Rural Broadband Provisions highlights selected rural broadband programs and provisions included in the 2018 Farm Bill.

                HAC Rural Resource Brief: Housing During COVID-19 presents time series housing trends based on the experiences of American households during the coronavirus pandemic.

                Survey of community attitudes towards the legality and morality of abortion from the American Communities Project.

                Re-envisioning Rural America tool that classifies rural census tracts by their asset types from the Urban Institute.

                RSI Data Tool mapping our nation’s rural-serving post-secondary institutions, created by ARRC (Alliance for Research on Regional Colleges).

                Interactive map of rural colleges across the US from the UW Madison Applied Population Lab.

                Child Tax Credit / Earned Income Tax Credit Toolkit from the White House with information on receiving the two tax credits. For more information, see the Center for the Study of Social Policy’s educational flyers on the CTC (available in English and Spanish) and IRS resources on the EITC.

                Federal Broadband Funding Guide containing a comprehensive list of the current federal grants available for broadband, classified by the piece of legislation they are associated with and the different goals they serve – deployment, devices, affordability, and inclusion.

                White House Build Back Better Rural Fact Sheet: How the Build Back Better Framework Helps Rural Communities.

                IRS has created a series of helpful videos that explain how the Child Tax Credit works and what steps people should take to receive advance CTC payments. Learn about the Child Tax Credit.

                USDA Office of National Drug Control Policy Federal Resources for Rural Communities to Help Address Substance Use Disorder and Opioid Misuse. Community Toolbox document gathers dozens of federal resources in one place. See the Toolbox.

                USDA ERS state fact sheets and county-level data sets were recently updated with the decennial census population data for 2020. View state fact sheets. View county data.

                Consumer Financial Protection Bureau can help renters and landlords pay rent, cover utilities, and make up for a loss in rental income. Find your local program and housing assistance here.

                White House Fact Sheet on what steps the Biden administration is taking through the ARP to improve the health of rural communities. Read it here.

                US Senate has released a title by title summary of ARP spending, based on the Act passed by the Senate on March 3. Title by Title Summary.

                USDA Fact sheet on ARP. FACT SHEET: United States Department of Agriculture Provisions in H.R. 1319, the American Rescue Plan

                US Treasury Breakdown of ARP Assistance to Families FACT SHEET: The American Rescue Plan Will Deliver Immediate Economic Relief to Families | US Department of the Treasury

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                News and Analysis on Federal Policy

                For each resource, if there is rural-specific information, we note it in red.

                AGRICULTURE

                Daily Yonder Farms in a Box: Bringing Small-Scale Farming Back to Rural Communities.

                AGree’s Climate, Food, and Ag Dialogue (CFAD) has released policy recommendations through which the USDA can encourage adoption of agricultural conservation practices and promote resiliency. CFAD’s Policy Recommendations

                Center of Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) provides an analysis of ARP looking specifically at Food Systems. Food Assistance in American Rescue Plan Act Will Reduce Hardship, Provide Economic Stimulus

                AG Web Editorial: Agricultural and Rural Provisions of the American Rescue Plan of 2021

                BROADBAND

                Brookings analysis on what the Senate did and did not do in their $1 trillion Infrastructure Bill’s to expand broadband access. The Senate infrastructure bill’s four interconnected broadband components

                American Library Association brief on broadband opportunities within the ARP. Includes rural specific information. Broadband Funding Opportunities in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 Robert Bocher

                BUDGET

                Daily Yonder analysis of Biden’s budget proposal for rural and its relation to previous legislation (ARP). Biden’s First Budget Proposal Recognizes Some Rural Needs

                CHILDREN

                Daily Yonder A CDFI Helps Rural Residents Start Child Care Businesses in Maine

                CLASP brief provides state agencies with recommendations for how they can use ARP child care relief funds to best meet the needs of immigrant families and providers. Supporting Immigrant Providers and Families
                Through Child Care Relief Funds

                Fact-sheet on using ARP dollars for child care centers. How States Can Improve Child Care Facilities & Physical Spaces Using Federal Relief Dollars

                Daily Yonder What the American Rescue Plan Means for Child Poverty in Rural America

                COMMUNITY

                The Conversation: Disasters can wipe out affordable housing for years unless communities plan ahead – the loss hurts the entire local economy.

                Shelterforce Maurice Jones on Job Creation, Community Development, and Wealth Building.

                Broadband USA’s Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program has released multiple webinars and resources explaining their grant opportunities. Watch the webinars here.

                Partners for Rural Transformation policy brief shows how Congress’s system to disburse federal housing & community development funds is unfair: Equity in Federal Housing and Community Development Funding: A Proposal for a National Floor

                LISC Federal Policy + Community Development: Experts Look at Ways to Fuel a Transformative Recovery

                National Community Action Partnership: A fact-sheet produced by NCAP on benefits from ARP. New American Rescue Plan Benefits for Families

                EDUCATION

                Inside Higher Education: Editorial on funding for colleges as part of the American Rescue plan.

                The Education Trust provides analysis of ARP’s impact on education issues specifically looking at issues of equity. Not rural specific in program analysis. The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 – What’s in It for Equity

                Brookings report on ARP specifically looking at education. No specific rural breakout. Building back better: The promise of the American Rescue Plan for education

                EQUITY

                Shelterforce piece explaining that we must stop siphoning wealth away from Black households to make progress in closing the racial wealth gap. Wealth Building Won’t Work While Wealth Extraction Continues

                PolicyLink 10 Priorities for Advancing Racial Equity Through the American Rescue Plan: A Guide for City and County Policymakers

                Brookings report focusing on issues of structural racism and how the ARP may address them. Connects to rural areas by funding program analysis. Will the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan address structural inequality?

                Civil Eats Editorial Op-ed: $4 Billion in Debt Relief Is a Start, but the Fight is Not Over for Black Farmers

                GENERAL

                FSG article Rural America: Philanthropy’s Misunderstood Opportunity for Impact.

                Nonprofit Quarterly article by Andrew Crosson: Countering Rural Disinvestment: Appalachia’s Ecosystem-Based Approach

                The Center for Sustainable Infrastructure and CleanTech Alliance spoke with supply chain innovators about tackling not only pollution from their direct operations but from the bigger, broader challenge of their global supply chains. Watch the recording here: Cleaning the Chain Workshop.

                World Resources Institute Report on the Economic Benefits of the New Climate Economy in Rural America. Read it here.

                Western Governor’s Association Chair and Idaho Governor Brad Little launched WGA’s Working Lands, Working Communities Initiative. Watch the Launch Webinar.

                California Coalition for Rural Housing has put together a Practitioner’s Guidebook on Affordable Housing and Natural Disasters.

                National Community Action Partnership breakdown of new ARP benefits for families. New American Rescue Plan Benefits for Families.

                National League of Cities has published great resources explaining the key details of the ARP. About ARPA. |  Top FAQs regarding ARPA. | Local allocations by Metro City.

                US Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs testimony by Lisa Mensah on how CDFIs can collaborate with the federal government to fund public infrastructure and rural and tribal housing. Testimony of Lisa Mensah

                Brookings report discusses the importance of creating a national rural strategy and intentionally designing federal legislative actions to meet the unique needs of rural communities. Will Biden deliver for rural America? The promise of the American Rescue Plan

                National Council of Nonprofits analysis of ARP and its impact on nonprofit organizations and they people nonprofits serve. More of a General Resource. The American Rescue Plan Act | National Council of Nonprofits

                KTTC Secretary of Agriculture breaks down the American Rescue Plan for rural communities

                Vermont Biz: Matt Dunne: What does the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 mean for rural America?

                Daily Yonder Editorial Commentary: Biden’s American Rescue Plan Keeps Promise to Rural America

                GEOGRAPHY

                National League of Cities has created an extensive, searchable summary of provisions relevant to municipalities and local leaders in this historic legislation. American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 Summary of Provisions. They have also created a searchable list of estimated appropriations by municipality. Estimated Local Allocations.

                National Council of State Legislatures (NCSL) breakdown of ARP funding for state and local governments.  Breaks out funding by issue area but not by rural separately. American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ncsl.org)

                Brookings report focusing on how local leaders should use their ARP funding utilizing the goals of stability, immediate impact, inclusivity, future prosperity, how ARP can complement efforts already underway and how to organize through Regional Recovery Councils. How should local leaders use their American Rescue Plan funding?

                Center for American Progress provides summaries of ARP and specific state breakdowns for: New Hampshire, Nevada, Maine, Georgia, Arizona, Iowa, West Virginia, Ohio, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. Also provides analysis around issue areas and for state and local governments. American Rescue Plan

                NACO American Rescue Plan Helps America’s Rural Counties

                HEALTH

                Politico Rural hospitals stave off mass exodus of workers to vaccine mandate.

                Rural Assembly has put together a collection of COVID-19 vaccine resources for rural communities.Find the resources here.

                American Hospital Association (AHA) analysis of the ARP. Includes specific information on rural hospitals and health care related to COVID pandemic. Summary of American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 and Provisions Affecting Hospitals and Health Systems | AHA

                National Law Review provides analysis on healthcare provisions in ARP, including for rural America. Healthcare Provisions of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021

                NATIVE NATIONS

                Daily Yonder Viewfinder: A Rehab Program in Arizona Provides Housing for Native Veterans

                Indian Country Today breakdown of the different funding streams that Indian Country could access through the ARP. Tribal leaders, experts talk American Rescue Plan’s impact

                Indian Country Today website has a breakdown of ARP programs for Tribal and Native Nations perspectives. Chair Grijalva hails passage of American Recovery Plan

                TAXES

                Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) analysis of EITC and Child Tax Credit for rural America. Rescue Plan’s Expansions of Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit Will Benefit Rural Residents.

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