Workshop Funding, Technical Assistance for Small, Rural Communities Facing Design Challenges

Jan 28, 2013 | ARTICLE

CIRD (formerly known as "Your Town") works to help rural communities with populations of 50,000 or fewer enhance their quality of life and economic vitality through facilitated design workshops. The program brings together local leaders, nonprofits, and community organizations with a team of specialists in design, planning, and creative placemaking to address challenges like strengthening economies, enhancing rural character, leveraging cultural assets, and designing efficient housing and transportation systems.

Since the program's inception in 1991, CIRD has convened more than 60 workshops in all regions of the country with results that range from the development of public art plans and business improvement districts, to funding for the design of waterfront parks and pedestrian-friendly streetscape improvements.

Each community selected to participate in the institute will receive $7,000 to support planning and hosting a two-day workshop. Communities will be required to provide approximately $7,000 in matching funds (cash or in-kind). CIRD will work with the communities to assemble teams of specialists based on the communities' individual needs. The workshops will be augmented with conference calls and webinar presentations led by experts who will cover topics related to rural design.

The new website at is a portal for resources on rural design gathered from diverse organizations across the country. It will be a place for interested citizens to connect with one another and get information about improving design in their own communities.

Find the RFP and application guidelines at Selected communities will be announced in May 2013, and the workshops will be held during the summer and fall of 2013. The deadline for submitting a proposal is March 5, 2013 at 5:00 pm EST.


Successful applicants will receive a $7,000 stipend and in-kind design expertise and technical assistance valued at $35,000. The Request for Proposals is on the new CIRD website:


CIRD will offer free application-assistance calls to answer questions and guide interested applicants in assembling their proposals. The calls will take place on Thursday, February 7, and on Thursday, February 28, 2013.  Participation in each call is free but registration is required. To register, visit



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