Rural Innovation Grant Program

Empower Rural Iowa

Supporting Creative Projects in Rural Iowa

Rural Innovation Grant Program

The Rural Innovation Grant program supports creative, non-traditional ideas that focus on current issues and challenges faced by rural communities associated with the themes of community investment, growth and connection. This program is a result of the Governor’s Empower Rural Iowa Initiative’s 2018 Recommendations. 

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; and private 501(c)3 nonprofit agencies and foundations are eligible to apply 
  • Applicants that are not a local government must include a letter of support from the mayor or 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: $1,000
  • Maximum request: $20,000
  • 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
  • The application period for the Rural Innovation Grant has closed for FY2021
  • Applications shall describe how the project will be a replicable model across rural Iowa
  • Applications reviewed by a panel including: Governor’s Empower Rural Iowa Initiative Task Force members; Iowa Economic Development Authority staff; and expert professionals
  • Extra consideration is provided to projects endorsed by the Iowa Great Places Citizen’s Advisory Board, as well as those located in a community of 5,000 or fewer
For more information, contact:

Liesl Seabert