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Rural Democracy Initiative invests in civic and political infrastructure in rural communities, small cities and towns. Building power in these communities is essential to establishing a progressive, multi-racial national majority, and to implementing the policies required for rural and small town communities to have a vibrant, successful future. 

RDI’s 501c3 and 501c4 grants will build capacity in four areas: 

  • Organizing: Amplifying the voice, votes, and power of people for progressive policy change.
  • Communications: Research, content and narrative development, and communications delivery. 
  • Coordination: Maximizing the effectiveness of rural organizations by linking to statewide and regional plans and networks, and through capacity building.
  • Civic Technology: Increasing access to critical voter data, and voter engagement platforms. 

Our 2020 geographic focus will be in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Arizona and Georgia, however we will also consider grants outside of these states.

Applicant organizations are encouraged to present a “coordinated rural program” describing how organizations will work together to build multiple capacities in support of rural communities.

Grantmaking Criteria

We will evaluate grant requests based on the following criteria:

  • Realistic plans or innovative strategies to achieve key political or policy goals in 2020 and beyond

  • Committed to building power, reach, and capacity in rural areas, small cities and towns.

  • Collaborative and connected to other organizations that can further the project’s impact. Engaged with other state and national partners.
  • Race-forward approach to organizing and building power, including: 
    • An ability to reach rural New American Majority voters and remove barriers to participation.
    • A commitment to diversity in leadership and staff.
  • RDI funding can have an especially high impact toward outcomes.

Grant Process

Our grant making process is intended to gather the most important information about potential grantees with the least amount of duplicated effort or special requests. For this reason we ask groups to send an initial informal 1-page letter of inquiry before being considered for a full proposal. The LOI should include a brief description of your organization and your geographic focus, your essential goals and strategies for the year ahead, your budget needs, and whether you would like to apply for 501c3 or 501c4 funding. We will respond promptly with next steps.

To submit an LOI, or to learn more about our work, please contact