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Citizens' Institute on Rural Design: Request for Host Applicants

This funding record is inactive. Please see the program website or contact the program sponsor to determine if this program is currently accepting applications or will open again in the future.

Housing Assistance Council, National Endowment for the Arts
Mar 12, 2021

The Citizens' Institute on Rural Design (CIRD) program consists of two different opportunities.

Workshop Communities: 3-4 communities will be selected to host an on-site rural design workshop. With support from a wide range of design, planning, and creative placemaking professionals, the workshops bring together local residents and local leaders from non-profits, community organizations, and government to develop actionable solutions to the community's specific design challenge. The community receives additional support through customized follow-up support after the workshop and web-based resources, webinars, and peer learning through the Learning Cohort (described below).

Up to 15 rural communities will be selected to participate in a Learning Cohort. Rural community leaders from government, non-profits, local business, and civic organizations are invited to gather together for peer learning; training in design, planning, community engagement, and facilitation techniques; and support in navigating funding opportunities to make their community's vision a reality.

Examples of potential design challenges have included:

  • Historic preservation and adaptive reuse of community buildings
  • Designing quality affordable housing that supports livable and equitable communities; including housing and other amenities that support young people, families, and/or the elderly and aging in place
  • Creating public or civic space that supports and integrates cultural expression and local identity and/or play and active recreation
  • Developing recreational trails for mobility, active transportation, and economic development
  • Redesigning Main Street as a local street versus state highway/thruway
  • Improving access to healthy food and local food ecosystems
  • Leveraging Main Street or local businesses for economic development, including branding, wayfinding, facade improvements, and streetscape design
  • Integrating cultural identity into the built environment to drive heritage tourism

Applicant Organizations must:

  • Be part of a rural or tribal community of 50,000 or less, that is rural in character
  • Have a specific design challenge in mind
  • Be able to participate in CIRD as indicated in the Participation Expectations
  • Commit to the full period of programming from May 2021 through December 2022

The following entities meeting the criteria above are encouraged to apply:

  • Municipal, tribal, and county governments
  • Local nonprofit organizations, including but not limited to Main Street organizations, art centers, preservation groups, historical societies, or chambers of commerce working in rural areas
  • Regional planning organizations
  • University community design centers, university agricultural/extension offices, and other programs with close ties to the community presenting the design challenge
  • Partnerships of entities listed above
Geographic coverage
Amount of funding

Workshop Communities: 3-4 communities will be selected. Each workshop includes:

  • $6,000 stipend to the host community for workshop and related expenses
  • A potential site visit to assist with project visioning and advancing toward implementation
  • In-person or virtual check-in with CIRD staff and team members (including designers and planners) on a quarterly basis after the workshop, to help tackle the community design challenge
  • A Design Book and action plan following the workshop, with project-specific design and planning recommendations
  • Ongoing technical assistance related to project until December, 2022

Learning Cohort: An additional 15 communities from the applicant pool will be invited to participate in the Learning Cohort, an opportunity for two leaders from each selected community to gather together for peer learning; training in design, planning, community engagement, and facilitation techniques; and support in navigating funding opportunities to make their vision a reality. The Learning Cohort opportunity includes:

  • A series of online learning sessions led by nationally recognized field experts, tailored to engage cohort members and activate peer learning
  • A series of public webinars and private breakout sessions that connect cohort members to design experts
  • Technical assistance through office hours, one-on-one coaching, optional in-person convenings, and online resources
  • Additional opportunities to socialize and share best practices and experiences with rural peers from around the country
Application process

Links to additional guidance, application instructions, and the online application form are available on the program website when applications are being accepted.

Tagged as
Aging and aging-related services · Community and economic development · Food security and nutrition · Infrastructure · Leadership · Networking and collaboration · People with disabilities · Transportation · Wellness, health promotion, and disease prevention

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