Rural Innovation Grant Program

Empower Rural Iowa

Supporting Creative Projects in Rural Iowa

Rural Innovation Grant Program

The Rural Innovation Grant program seeks to support creative ideas that address current issues and challenges faced by rural communities associated with the themes of community investment, growth and connection. The word "innovation" is derived from the Latin verb innovare, which means to renew. So at its root, innovation means to improve or to replace something, such as a process, a product, or a service. It is the concept of bringing creativity into implementation with a definitive outcome. This grant is designed to support the implementation stage of projects.

Projects should align with one of three focus areas:

  1. Growing Rural Iowa - Supports community leaders as they think holistically and act collaboratively to inform and connect leaders to rural issues, grow vibrant community gathering places, and develop tools to train and educate the next generation of leaders
  2. Investing in Rural Iowa - Projects that develop creative, scalable development solutions, including but not limited to projects addressing rural housing solutions, infill and reuse strategies, and affordable, sustainable designs
  3. Connecting Rural Iowa - Projects that improve and expand opportunities for diverse members of Iowa's rural communities to utilize high-speed broadband service

  • Iowa businesses, colleges and universities, city or county government, federally tax-exempt nonprofit agencies and foundations are eligible
  • Applicants that are not a local government must include a letter of support from the mayor or a resolution from the city council 
  • Projects/programs must exist in and benefit a community in Iowa with a population of 20,000 or fewer and not contiguous to a city with a population of 40,000 or greater
  • Funding based on annual availability
  • Minimum request: $10,000
  • Maximum request: $50,000
  • Minimum 1:1/2 cash match requirement
  • Disbursements made on a reimbursement basis

Scoring Criteria

  • Innovation and replication
  • Implementation
  • Evaluation and public value
  • Partnerships
  • Budget/local support
Information will be posted here if a new application cycle is opened for FY24.
For more information, contact:

Liesl Seabert