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Deadline: April 19, 2022

United States Department of Agriculture: Rural Innovation Stronger Economy (RISE) Grant Program

The RISE program seeks to help struggling communities by funding job accelerators in low-income rural communities. The primary objective of RISE is to support jobs accelerator partnerships to improve the ability of distressed rural communities to create high wage jobs, accelerate the formation of new businesses through innovation centers, and help rural communities identify and maximize local assets.

Grants are made for the benefit of rural jobs accelerator partnerships. These partnerships are working groups that consist of community and regional stakeholders whose focus is the needs of an identified industry cluster. Industry Cluster is a broadly defined network of interconnected firms and supporting institutions in related industries that accelerate innovation, business formation, and job creation by taking advantage of assets and strengths of a region in the business environment

Applicants are encouraged to consider projects that will advance the following key priorities (more details available at https://www.rd.usda.gov/​priority-points):

* Assisting rural communities to recover economically from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly disadvantaged communities

* Ensuring that all rural residents have equitable access to Rural Development (RD) programs and benefits from RD funded projects

* Reducing climate pollution and increasing resilience to the impacts of climate change through economic support to rural communities

Priority will also be given to projects that will leverage next generation gigabit broadband service to promote entrepreneurship and entities based in geographical areas with established agriculture and technology sectors which are focused on the development of precision and autonomous agriculture technologies as a way to strengthen rural economies and create jobs.

Grant funds may be used to pay for costs directly related to the purchase or construction of an innovation center located in a low-income rural area; costs directly related to operations of an innovation center including purchase of equipment, office supplies, and administrative costs including salaries directly related to the project; costs directly associated with support programs to be carried out at or in direct partnership with job accelerators; reasonable and customary travel expenses directly related to job accelerators and at rates in compliance with 2 CFR 200.474; utilities, operating expenses of the innovation center and job accelerator programs and associated programs; and administrative costs of the grantee not exceeding 10% of the grant amount for the duration of the project.

Amount: Grants range from $500,000-$2,000,000. Funds may be used to pay for up to 80 percent of eligible project activity costs. There is a matching fund requirement of 20 percent.

Eligibility: Applicants must be a rural jobs accelerator partnership formed after December 20, 2018. RISE applicants must include one of the following entities:
* State, tribal, or local government
* State, tribal, or local government entity
* Land-grant college/university
* Rural nonprofit cooperative
* Private entity

And include a lead applicant from one of the following entities:
* District organization
* Indian Tribe, or a consortium of Indian Tribes
* State or local government or political subdivisions
* An institution of higher education
* Public or private nonprofit organization

Region eligibility: The RISE jobs accelerator partnership must clearly define a region that is:
• Rural (Check eligibility of region here: https://eligibility.sc.egov.usda.gov/eligibility/welcomeAction.do)
• Large enough to contain critical elements of the industry cluster prioritized by the partnership
• Small enough to enable close collaboration among members of the partnership
• Includes a majority of communities located in a nonmetropolitan area deemed a low-income community, has a plan to achieve broadband service and has a population of 50,000 or fewer inhabitants. If the defined region has over 50,000 residents then the region must b determined as rural in terms of communities and towns assisted.

One or more members of the Partnership must be located in the targeted region. The Partnership may consist of industry entities and other partners outside of the targeted region.

Link: https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/view-opportunity.html?oppId=337028

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