On May 27, 2021, USDA Rural Development released a Notice of Funds Available (NOFA) for the Rural Placemaking Innovation Challenge (RPIC) that will provide funds to awardees who provide technical assistance and training to rural communities for placemaking planning and implementation. Up to $3 million is available through this NOFA with a maximum of $250,000 going to any one applicant and applications are due July 26, 2021.
The RPIC is an initiative that seeks to provide support to rural community leaders to create places where people want to live, work, and play. Funds can be used to help rural communities create plans to enhance capacity for broadband access; preserve cultural and historic structures; and support the development of transportation, housing, and recreational spaces. Applicants may be federally recognized tribes and Native American tribal organizations, institutions of higher education, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations, public bodies, or small private entities.
USDA Rural Development is encouraging applicants that will support communities designated as economically distressed or planning projects to enhance broadband infrastructure and deployment. Recipients in 2020 used funds to develop plans to support housing, workforce, and broadband development; to support outreach to students and recent graduates for rural entrepreneurship opportunities in the agricultural sector; to develop plans to support rural tourism opportunities; and to develop plans for downtown revitalization.
USDA Rural Development is hosting a virtual workshop on the RPIC and application process on June 24, 2021, at 2:30 p.m. Registration for the workshop and the RPIC application form and checklist are available here: https://www.rd.usda.gov/about-rd/initiatives/rural-placemaking-innovation-challenge.