Arkansas Department of Rural Services: Rural Community Grant Program

Arkansas Economic Development Commission

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Grant amount: Up to US $15,000

Next deadline: Mar 7, 2019

Later deadlines: Aug 9, 2019

Applicant type: Government Entity

Funding uses: Applied Project / Program, Capital Project

Location of project: Arkansas

Location of residency: Arkansas

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Overview:

The Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC), Division of Rural Services (DRS), is charged with assisting rural communities with a population of 20,000 and under. Established under Act 302 of 1991, and merged with the Arkansas Economic Development Commission under Act 8 of the 2015 First Extraordinary Session, DRS assists local agencies in rural areas with information and technical assistance. Currently, more than 80% of Arkansans live in rural areas.

The Arkansas Rural Development Commission (ARDC) is a group of citizens from rural Arkansas responsible for overseeing the programs of DRS. Seven of its members are appointed by the Governor, two are appointed by the Senate President Pro-Tem, and two are appointed by the Speaker of the House. Commissioners serve multiple-year terms and meet throughout the year to discuss rural issues that affect Arkansans.

The mission of these two groups is to "Enhance the quality of life in rural Arkansas."

One focus of the Division of Rural Services is to be a source of information for rural citizens and provide support services to rural communities. DRS publishes a quarterly newsletter that covers rural policies and topics. The Division also hosts an annual conference and local forums around the state throughout the course of the year.

DRS provides funding for worthwhile projects in rural communities through a variety of grant programs. One such program is the Arkansas Rural Community Grant Program (RCGP). Since this grant's inception, more than $12 million has been awarded to communities in all 75 counties. When the local community matches are added in, this grant program has generated more than $24 million dollars toward enhancing rural communities.

General Information and Eligibility

Through the Arkansas Rural Community Grant Program (RCGP), the Arkansas Rural Development Commission and the Division of Rural Services strive to enhance quality of life in the state by providing incentive grants on a matching basis. The Rural Community Grant Program can assist with the improvement of local fire protection, including related emergency services and construction, along with the development and improvement of community facilities.

What Type of Projects are Eligible

Projects eligible for funding consideration under the Rural Community Grant Program include, but are not limited to:

  • Renovations, new construction or additions to publicly owned buildings such as civic or community centers, senior or youth centers, libraries, museums, and etc.
  • Renovations, new construction, new equipment, or additions to parks and other publicly owned recreational facilities such as baseball or softball fields, landscape or beautification projects, park and picnic areas, jogging/walking trails, and etc.
  • Purchase of storm sirens or construction of publicly owned storm shelters accessible to the citizens of the entire community.
  • Renovations, new construction, or additions to fire facilities.
  • The purchase of fire protection equipment and vehicles.
  • The rehabilitation and/or retrofitting of newly acquired equipment and vehicles.

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.

Eligibility:

  • Incorporated cities and towns and unincorporated communities in rural areas of less than 3,000 in population (verifiable by current U.S. Census information) are eligible to apply for assistance through the Arkansas Rural Community Grant Program.
    • In keeping with our enabling legislation, a rural area is defined, for the purpose of this program, as “all the territory of the State of Arkansas that is not within the outer boundary of any city or town having a population of 20,000 or more according to the latest federal census or within such a city’s or town’s neighboring urbanized areas."
  • Applicants with no changes to their application may re-apply by forwarding a letter signed by the local governing official to the Division of Rural Services.
  • An application can be resubmitted for the next two scheduled funding cycles for a total of three submissions (original plus two additional cycles.
  • The match ratio on the program is 50/50. Communities wishing to apply for projects under the program must provide one half of the cost of the project as match. 
    • See full matching requirement details here.

Funding Availability

The Arkansas Legislature appropriated $600,000 for each year of the 2018-2019 biennium to be expended through the Arkansas Rural Community Grant Program.

Applicants with an eligible project may apply for up to $15,000 in state matching funds toward a project for community development or fire protection projects. As the grant pool is limited, it may sometimes be necessary to make awards of less than the amount actually requested and some projects unfortunately cannot be funded at all. 

Ineligibility:

  • Projects NOT eligible for funding consideration under the Rural Community Grant Program and Rural Block Grant Program include, but are not limited to:
    • Municipal buildings (courthouses, city halls, police stations, sheriffs offices, and city or county jails)
    • Cemetery and other facility fencing and maintenance
    • Chatting and paving of driveways and parking lots
    • Fairground and rodeo construction owned by incorporated associations (see DRS County Fair Building Grant Program for fairground projects only)
    • Costs associated with normal day-to-day operations or maintenance
    • Debt financing of any type (new or existing). Debt financing is defined for the purpose of this program as reimbursement of new or existing loans, loan payments, or reimbursement for equipment, facilities, labor, or property already purchased or constructed
    • Training, travel, or other personnel related expenses
    • Contingency fees
    • County health units
    • Schools
    • Transfer stations
    • Water projects
    • Elections
    • Private, non-profit associations
  • Due to the limited amount of funds available for rural communities, the Arkansas Rural Development Commission has elected to make the following entities and projects ineligible for grant funding: county health units, schools/preschools, transfer stations, water projects, elections, and private, non-profit associations. 
  • Applicants are not eligible for a Rural Community Grant if the community/city has an RCGP grant currently open.
    • Once the grant has been closed out, applicants are eligible to apply.
  • The Arkansas Rural Community Grant Program is a 50/50 matching program.