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NEWS RELEASE

USDA to Request Proposal for $9.5 Million Fund for Rural America

WASHINGTON, April 24, 2001-USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service announced the release of a request for proposals (RFP) for a $9.5 million competitive grant program under the Fund for Rural America. The program is aimed at improving the quality of rural life in the United States.

"The Fund for Rural America was established to develop knowledge-based solutions for rural economic development," CSREES Administrator Colien Hefferan said. "This year's fund addresses development of value-added and biobased industries and changing rural demographics, two of the most-important forces shaping today's rural economy."

After the proposals have been considered, CSREES will distribute grants of up to $600,000 over four years. Proposals will be accepted in two main priority areas:

Harnessing Demographic Change to Increase Rural Opportunity. Communities need to understand the challenges of an aging population, the arrival of new immigrant populations, youth retention and workforce development—all critical issues that impact the rural economy. Fund also aims to develop the capacity to turn these challenges into economic promise.

Rural Community Innovation. Communities must develop the capacity to translate on- and off-farm innovations into economic growth and community revitalization. Innovations in value-added processing, e-commerce, distance learning, niche markets and new industries can help rural communities share more fully in economic opportunities.

Proposals will be accepted from national laboratories, private research organizations, colleges, universities or research foundations maintained by a college or university, and Federal research agencies. Interdisciplinary, multi-institutional, multi-sector approaches to solving practical problems in rural communities are encouraged.

The RFP outlines the purpose and guidelines for developing proposals to be submitted to the competitive grants program. The deadline for submitting a proposal is June 19, 2001.

Technical Contact: Phil Schwab 202-720-4423 or pschwab@reeusda.gov, or Elizabeth Tuckermanty, 202-205-0241; etuckermanty@reeusda.gov