In the first three months of 2022, Rural Democracy Initiative’s 501c3 Heartland Fund and 501c4 Rural Victory Fund granted $6,470,000 to 97 groups developing creative and effective ways to engage voters, shape policy, and build support. Thanks to our generous donors, that’s the most we’ve ever granted in the first quarter.
For decades, people in rural communities have suffered from a lack of investment in our communities. This year and last year, we had two historic federal funding programs: The American Rescue Plan (ARP) and Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act. These will help us get the care we need and rebuild our economy. But for local and state governments to take advantage of this opportunity, rural leaders and organizations will need to help determine how to spend these funds and also help implement programs.
Our Democracy is under attack. After attempting to overturn the 2020 election results, anti-democratic forces are now placing deliberate barriers to voting, drawing election districts to prevent competitive elections, and stacking how elections are regulated and certified. These barriers disproportionately impact the civic engagement of certain communities, including rural, tribal, and people of color. In the face of these urgent challenges, groups are developing innovative and effective ways to engage voters, shape policy, and save our Democracy.
The Rural Democracy Initiative (RDI) team has been working overtime to complete our 2021 grant making. In September the steering committees of our 501c3 Heartland Fund and 501c4 Rural Victory Fund approved an additional $2,075,000 in grants to build the strong civic and political infrastructure rural communities need. Thanks to our generous donors, we supported 37 groups in 12 states and are busy preparing 35 more grants for October approval.
Leaders in the federal government are currently negotiating a historic investment in the nation’s infrastructure. This is a critical moment to both celebrate and advocate for proposals that will benefit rural communities. During this time, funding decisions could change rapidly, and now is the time to push for them to change for the better.
No matter where you live, people need good jobs, clean air, and clean water. After years of economic decline in rural areas, we urgently need the federal government to fund infrastructure to help our communities.