Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announced that nearly $1 billion in Rural Partnership Program (RPP) funding will be included in the Build Back Better Act framework. Gillibrand has long fought to support rural communities in New York State and nationwide and the recently announced Rural Partnership Program is modeled after Gillibrand’s Rebuild Rural America Act, legislation written to deliver federal resources directly to rural communities. During late-stage negotiations, Gillibrand sent a letter to congressional leadership and successfully advocated for the Rural Partnership Program in the updated Build Back Better framework. Additionally, as negotiations on the package continue, Gillibrand is pledging to continue fighting to maintain this robust level of funding for rural communities.
“Rural America stands at the crossroads of agriculture, forestry, energy, and manufacturing, and it’s far past time the federal government invests resources to match the important contributions of these communities. That’s why I’m fighting to keep these crucial investments for rural communities in New York State and across the nation in the Build Back Better plan,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Right now, we have the unique opportunity with the Rural Partnership Program to reimagine how the federal government invests in rural America and to fix a system that is too narrow and inflexible to meet the specific needs of rural communities. I will keep fighting to ensure these provisions make it across the finish line.”
Even before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, rural communities struggled to access limited federal funding and have been forced to compete against larger communities for grant opportunities. The RPP will include funding for two grant programs tailored to address this problem and support rural communities: Rural Prosperity Development Grants and Rural Prosperity Innovation Grants.
- $873 million for Rural Prosperity Development Grants: The $873 million allocated for the Rural Prosperity Development Grants will prioritize micropolitan areas (populations between 10,000 and 50,000) and high poverty areas, and will be used to promote rural development activities and pre-development planning activities. This funding will be made to available to local governments, tribal governments, and nonprofit or certain qualified for-profit organizations.
- $97 million for Rural Prosperity Innovation Grants: The $97 million allocated for the Rural Prosperity Innovation Grants will be made available to non-profit organizations and institutions of higher education that serve rural areas. The funding will be used for development and pre-development planning, organizational capacity-building to support rural development, or to support projects funded by Prosperity Development Grants.
Senator Gillibrand first introduced the Rebuild Rural America Act in 2019 alongside Congressman Delgado (D-NY-19), which sought to establish the Rural Future Partnership Fund to provide non-competitive, five-year, renewable block grants to certified rural regions. The grant funding would be used to encourage rural regions to develop comprehensive, collaborative, and locally-driven community and economic development plans to revitalize infrastructure, provide support for public services and job training, and foster local entrepreneurship. More details on this legislation may be found here.