USDA Summer Newsletter: Opportunities for Municipalities and Non-Profits

The Rural Development Newsletter is produced by USDA Rural Development to inform partners and customers of Agency news and opportunities in Vermont and New Hampshire. Additionally, we aim to share information from our local partners in both states that has relevance to our readers. If you have input or suggestions, please send your comments to Pollaidh Major, Public Affairs Specialist, at

Supporting Community Facilities – Ladders Thrift Shop

Community Project, Ladders

The Ladders Thrift Shop supports the Bridge House, a homeless shelter and veterans support facility in Plymouth, NH.  In 2014, USDA helped the Bridge House renovate a historic building and establish the shop. Now in its third year, Ladders is successfully connecting the community to the shelter, generating operational revenue, and providing opportunities for community members in need.

Across Vermont and New Hampshire, USDA stakeholders are developing creative partnerships that support and strengthen the fabric of rural communities with the help of the Community Facilities Program.

Rural Community Development Initiative Grant Program

The Rural Community Development Initiative (RCDI) program helps entities strengthen the rural economy. Qualified intermediary organizations receiving RCDI grants provide technical assistance and training to help nonprofit organizations and communities develop their capacity to undertake housing, community facilities or economic development projects. Eligible applicants include non-profits and public bodies. Grants range from $50,000 to $250,000. For more information, see the Notice of Funding Availability.

Community Facilities Technical Assistance and Training Grant Program

The Communities Facilities Technical Assistance and Training Grant program helps rural communities pursuing large projects develop applications for USDA Rural Development’s Community Facilities program. The grant provides up to $150,000 of support to entities to hire specialized personnel, pay for feasibility studies, retain consultants to prepare financial assistance applications and identify and plan for long-term community needs. Application information can be found in the Notice of Solicitation of Applicationspublished in the Federal Register.

For more information on community grant programs, contact Eric Law, Vermont and New Hampshire Community Program Specialist, at (802) 828-6033 or by email at

Opportunities for Businesses and Non-Profits

USDA Rural Energy Grant Supports Maple Production

Ronnie Leroux, testing

Ronnie Leroux is working towards his goal of making 8,000 gallons of maple syrup this season. He processes the sap from his 19,500 maple taps through a reverses osmosis machine which he purchased in 2015 with support of a Rural Energy for America Grant. This energy-efficient technology has decreased Ronnie’s energy consumption by 73% and helps him save roughly $6,500 in energy expenses annually. The Vermont sugaring industry has expanded 131% since the 1990’s employing rural residents and directing revenues towards rural communities.

Read more about Ronnie’s REAP grant here.

Socially Disadvantaged Groups Grant Program

Apply by July 25

USDA is awarding up to $3 million in grants through the Socially Disadvantaged Groups Grant program to help small businesses retain and create jobs in rural areas. Eligible grant recipients include cooperatives, groups of cooperatives, and cooperative development centers that serve socially disadvantaged groups. Examples of technical assistance include leadership training, as well as support to develop feasibility studies, business plans and strategic plans. For information on how to apply for these grants, see page 26426 of the June 7 Federal Register.

For more information contact Susan Poland, Business Program Specialist, at (802) 828-6002 or by email at .

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