The Rural Innovation Grant program aims to support creative ideas that address current issues and challenges faced by rural communities associated with the themes of community investment, growth and connection. This program is a result of the Governor’s Empower Rural Iowa Initiative’s 2018 Recommendations.
The word “innovation” is derived from the Latin verb innovare, which means to renew. So, at its root, innovation means to improve or to replace something, such as a process, a product, or a service. It is the concept of bringing creativity into implementation with a definitive outcome. This grant is designed to support the implementation stage of projects.
The program, defined in Iowa Administrative Code, is administered by the Center for Rural Revitalization, a division of the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA), in consultation with the Governor’s Empower Rural Iowa Initiative Task Forces.
Tuesday, July 12, 11AM-12PM: Register online
Grant Request Amount
Applicants may request funding for eligible one-time project expenses that are incurred and expended within the eligible funding period.
Minimum Grant Request: $10,000
Maximum Grant Request: $50,000
Applicants are required to demonstrate investment in projects by providing a minimum of 1:1/2 cash match. The cash match must be secured, dedicated to eligible expenses, a legitimate part of the proposed project and must be expended within the eligible funding period. The 1:1/2 match requirement may be raised through a combination of public and private sources but may not include in-kind donations of goods or services, unsecured funding, or loans. For example, an applicant that requests $10,000 in grant funds must have at least $5,000 in cash match. While the minimum match requirement is 1:1/2, competitive proposals will demonstrate broad-based financial support for their project and that public funding sources have been adequately leveraged to seek and obtain private dollars.
- Cash match constitutes actual cash contributed to direct project expenses by the applicant or other funding sources.
- Funding from state government that is already being used as match from another program, including other funds from the Iowa Economic Development Authority, cannot be used to meet the match requirement.
All project activities and incurred expenses must occur within the eligible contracted funding period, October 1, 2022 – June 30, 2024. Funding is awarded to grant recipients on a reimbursement basis after expenses have been incurred for approved project activities within the eligible funding period. Expenses that are incurred before or after the eligible funding period are not eligible for reimbursement.
Disbursement of Funds
Disbursements will be made on a reimbursement basis. Disbursement claims must be for an amount equal to or greater than $500 per request. All claims must be made through Iowagrants.gov. When submitting a claim, the following items are required:
- An invoice including:
- A detailed description of the expenditures and the corresponding amounts
- Product invoices and proof of payment for any equipment, supplies or materials purchased
- Receipts for any Iowa travel expenses
- Invoices and proof of payment for any subcontractor payments
- Timesheets for any personnel time requested
- The IEDA may request additional documentation as needed
- A status report for the claim period. Status reports must be received once a quarter. If no funds are requested, recipients should still file a status report.
Iowa businesses, colleges and universities, city or county government, and private 501(c)3 nonprofit agencies and foundations are eligible to apply. A single entity must be selected to serve as the primary applicant for grant funding applications; however, the project should include collaboration between a consortium of partners. The selected primary applicant must meet the definition of eligible applicant. The applicant will be responsible for submitting eligible material during the funding application process and will be the entity legally obligated to the terms of an agreement if awarded funding. Partners and collaborating entities are not subject to the eligibility requirements but may be subject to financial and programmatic review during the selection process.
- Projects/programs must exist in and benefit a community in Iowa with a population of 20,000 or fewer and not contiguous (sharing a common border) to a city with a population of 40,000 or greater.
- Any eligible applicant may submit an application that includes one or more partners.
- Any eligible applicant will be allowed to submit one application per funding announcement. An applicant who has applied as the principal entity for an application may also be named as a partner on additional applications submitted but may not be named as a primary entity.
- Federally tax exempt nonprofit organization incorporated and physically located in Iowa.
- Physical location of the organization is defined as maintaining a current home office and registered agent address in Iowa defined by Iowa Code 490.501, as well as maintaining a primary staff presence physically located and working in Iowa.
- Public or private school serving grades pre-K through 12 and physically located in Iowa.
- Nonprofit institution of higher education physically located in Iowa.
- Unit of local, county or federally recognized tribal government physically located in Iowa.
- For-profit corporation or business located in Iowa.
- A business will be considered an Iowa business if the business is incorporated in the state of Iowa or authorized to do business in the state of Iowa.
Eligible Project Checklist
Eligible and competitive projects must fulfill the following criteria:
- Project is unique in its design or implementation.
- Project can be replicated in other rural communities of similar size and situation.
- Project has multiple partners engaged in its success.
- Project has not been implemented in other communities in Iowa.
- Project will have local impact beyond an individual business or organization.
- Project is either a new solution to an existing challenge or a new application of an existing solution.
If your project does not fall into one of these criteria, attend the informational webinar, contact the program manager at firstname.lastname@example.org, or consider another grant opportunity through the Center for Rural Revitalization.
Eligible Use of Funding
Eligible use of funds for awards include, but are not limited to the following:
- Land acquisition
- Major renovation and repair of buildings or appurtenant structures
- Park, trail or permanent design exhibits
- Site development
- Engineering, planning and design costs
- Community training program development and implementation
- Equipment and electronics
- Personnel time dedicated to the project (Applicant must demonstrate how personnel time is specifically dedicated to the proposed project. Personnel benefits are not eligible.)
INELIGIBLE PROJECT ACTIVITIES AND EXPENSES
Funding for existing projects or programs that do not include significant expansion of the project or program are ineligible. The Rural Innovation Grant Program does not support ongoing expenses for existing programs or projects.
Ineligible expenses include, but are not limited to:
- International or domestic travel (outside of Iowa)
- Conference or training expenses for program providers
- Routine, reoccurring maintenance
- Ongoing utilities
- Budget shortfalls
- Fundraising or benefit event activities
- Lobbying activity
- Prizes and awards
ONLINE APPLICATION SUBMISSION
Applicants must apply via IowaGrants.gov, an online application portal. Applications will not be accepted in any other format. Late, incomplete, or ineligible applications will not be accepted. Applicants must create a login to view the full application for the program.
Applications will be reviewed for completion, eligibility, and adherence to published guidelines. Applications are reviewed as submitted. New application information or subsequent application clarification submitted after a program deadline is not considered. Eligible applications will be referred to a competitive review by a volunteer panel that includes the Governor’s Empower Rural Iowa Initiative Task Force members and expert professionals (grant review committee). The grant review committee reserves the right to recommend conditional funding and partial funding of projects. Funding recommendations will be submitted by the committee to the executive director of the IEDA for consideration and approval. The applicant’s authorized official will receive award notification. All funding decisions are final.
Applications must demonstrate evidence of the following:
- Applicant is an eligible candidate.
- Funding request meets eligible project and expense requirements.
- Request is for no less than $10,000 or more than $50,000.
- Request includes proof of 1:1/2 cash match for grant request.
- Project duration does not exceed contract period.
- Application is complete and submitted through IowaGrants.gov.
- Applicant is a local government entity (mayor or city council) or applicant has included a letter of support from the mayor or resolution from the city council.
- Primary Applicant is not named as Primary Applicant on any other applications; however, can be named as partners on additional applications.
Extra consideration is provided to projects that have been endorsed by the Iowa Great Places Citizen’s Advisory Board (additional 5 points added to score total), as well as those located in a community of 5,000 or fewer (additional 5 points added to score total).
Additional information, including guidelines and scoring rubric are available on the Empower Rural Iowa web site at https://www.iowaeconomicdevelopment.com/empowerruraliowa.