Cynthia Nikitin is program director of the Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design, which is putting out a request for proposals.
“To apply and to be brave and bold and take a step forward,” Nikitin says. “Applying for federal funding is scary and difficult if you’ve never done it before, so we are there to hold people’s hands and help them along. It’s a program that’s set up to help people succeed.”
She adds, it’s not just the federal funding they can offer.
“We are one of the only federal programs that provides not just funding but technical assistance in terms of helping people prepare workshops, figuring out content, identifying speakers and resource team members they need, connecting them with federal and regional and state and county leaders,” Nikitin says. “We’re a bridge.”
The workshops are intended to bring together local leaders from non-profits, community organizations and government agencies to develop action-based solutions to a community’s pressing development challenges. Nikitin says the institute can be a stepping stone.
“A number of people have actually done this and then gone after Our Town grants, NEA grants or Art Place grants,” she says. “They come up with ideas and concept designs, architectural drawings, trail maps, they come up with something they can continue to work on and then go after additional funding for implementation.”
The deadline for submitting a proposal is Tuesday. Successful applicants will receive a $10,000 stipend in addition to professional design expertise and technical assistance valued at $35,000. CIRD is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, and the U.S Department of Agriculture.
By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton