(OPEN) Limited Submission: Rural Cooperative Development Grants (RCDG)


The primary objective of the RCDG program is to improve the economic condition of rural areas through cooperative development. Grants are awarded on a competitive basis. The maximum award amount per grant is $200,000. Grants are available for non-profit corporations or higher education institutions only. Grant funds may be used to pay for up to 75 percent of the cost of establishing and operating centers for rural cooperative development. Grant funds may be used to pay for 95 percent of the cost of establishing and operating centers for rural cooperative development, when the applicant is a 1994 Institution as defined by 7 U.S.C. 301. The 1994 Institutions are commonly known as Tribal Land Grant Institutions. Centers may have the expertise on staff or they can contract out for the expertise, to assist individuals or entities in the startup, expansion or operational improvement of rural businesses, especially cooperative or mutually owned businesses.

The Agency encourages applications that will support recommendations made in the Rural Prosperity Task Force report to help improve life in rural America. www.usda.gov/ruralprosperity Applicants are encouraged to consider projects that provide measurable results in helping rural communities build robust and sustainable economies through strategic investments in infrastructure, partnerships and innovation. Key strategies include:

  • Achieving e-Connectivity for rural America
  • Developing the Rural Economy
  • Harnessing Technological Innovation
  • Supporting a Rural Workforce
  • Improving Quality of Life

Please read the full program announcement before preparing your internal application.

Award Amount
  • Maximum Grant Amount: $200,000
  • Estimated Program Funding: $5.8 million
  • Matching Funds Requirement: 25% of total project costs (5% for 1994 institutions)
  • You must be a nonprofit corporation or an institution of higher education to apply for this program. Public bodies and individuals cannot apply for this program.
  • Your matching funds requirement is 25 percent of the total project cost.
Selection Criteria

Administrative capabilities: The agency will evaluate your demonstrated track record in carrying out activities in support of development assistance to cooperatively and mutually owned businesses.

Technical assistance and other services: The agency will evaluate your demonstrated expertise no later than the last 5 years in providing technical assistance and accomplishing effective outcomes in rural areas to promote and assist the development of cooperatively and mutually owned businesses.

Economic development: The agency will evaluate your demonstrated ability to facilitate:

  1. Establishment of cooperatives or mutually owned businesses;
  2. New cooperative approaches (i.e., organizing cooperatives among underserved individuals or communities; an innovative market approach; a type of cooperative currently not in your service area; a new cooperative structure; novel ways to raise member equity or community capitalization; conversion of an existing business to cooperative ownership); and
  3. Retention of businesses, generation of employment opportunities or other factors, as applicable, that will otherwise improve the economic conditions of rural areas.

Past performance in establishing legal business entities: The agency will evaluate your demonstrated past performance in establishing legal cooperative business entities and other legal business entities during January 1, 2016—December 31, 2018.

Networking and regional focus: The agency will evaluate your demonstrated commitment to:

  1. Networking with other cooperative development centers, and other organizations involved in rural economic development efforts, and
  2. Developing multi-organization and multi-State approaches to addressing the economic development and cooperative needs of rural areas.

Commitment: The agency will evaluate your commitment to providing technical assistance and other services to under-served and economically distressed areas in rural areas of the United States.

Matching Funds: The agency will evaluate your commitment for the 25 percent (5 percent for 1994 Institutions) matching funds requirement.

Work plan/budget: The agency will evaluate your work plan for detailed actions and an accompanying timetable for implementing the proposal. The budget must present a breakdown of the estimated costs associated with cooperative and business development activities as well as the operation of the Center and allocate these costs to each of the tasks to be undertaken.

Qualifications of those performing the tasks: The agency will evaluate your application to determine if the personnel expected to perform key tasks have a track record of:

  1. Positive solutions for complex cooperative development and/or marketing problems; or
  2. A successful record of conducting accurate feasibility studies, business plans, marketing analysis, or other activities relevant to your success as determined by the tasks identified in the work plan; and
  3. Whether the personnel expected to perform the tasks are full/part-time employees of your organization or are contract personnel.

Local and future support: The agency will evaluate your application for local and future support. Support should be discussed directly within the response to this criterion.

Administrator discretionary points: The Administrator may choose to award up to 10 points to an eligible non-profit corporation or institution of higher education who has never previously been awarded an RCDG grant; and whose work plan and budget seeks to help rural communities build robust and sustainable economies through strategic investments in infrastructure, partnerships and innovation.

Limitation Details

An Institution may submit one proposal.

If you are interested in submitting for this program, you must first submit an internal application to limsub@uga.edu according to the required instructions below.

Internal Applications must include the following:
  • A cover page listing
    • The name of this funding opportunity and title of your proposal
    • Your name, UGA position, home department, email, and UGA contact information
    • Collaborator names, positions, and institutions (if any)
    • Indicate whether or not you have submitted to this program in the past. If so, please provide a copy of previous reviews at the end of the internal application.
  • A (maximum two-page) proposal summary that addresses the program’s specific selection criteria.
  • A brief (less than a page) summary of total costs that includes the total amount of and source for any cost share
  • One paragraph describing why this proposal should be UGA’s submission (i.e., why it will be the most competitive for this program)
  • Curriculum vitae
Internal Selection

Limited Submission announcements often generate multiple competing proposals.  UGA reviewers judge proposals as they would in any peer review process, so PIs are urged to put their best foot forward.  Along with typical criteria, reviewers will evaluate internal proposals based on their fit with the sponsor’s articulated goals and criteria.

Internal Submission Instructions

The above internal application materials should be submitted via email as a single .PDF file to limsub@uga.edu by the internal deadline listed above.


Please submit questions regarding the internal competition to limsub@uga.edu.

For questions directly related to this program, please contact:

  • Grants Division, Cooperative Programs, Rural Business-Cooperative Service, United States Department of Agriculture
  • 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Mail Stop-3253, Room 4208-South, Washington, DC 20250–3253
  • (202) 690– 1374.

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