The Center's Board of Directors annually approves topics for research. All projects must show a clear relationship to one or more of the Center's mandated research areas, which are rural people and communities, economic development, local government finance and administration, community services, natural resources and the environment, educational outreach, rural values and social change, agriculture, and health and welfare concerns.
The Center's enabling legislation requires that Center grants be awarded to qualified faculty members of the Pennsylvania State University, the State System of Higher Education (SSHE) universities and the regional campuses of the University of Pittsburgh, which are in Bradford, Greensburg, Johnstown and Titusville. The qualified faculty member must serve as the project director. Partnerships with other academic institutions, community organizations, and other public and private agencies are encouraged. The Center does not require a cash match from applicants for the grant programs. However, investment by other partners clearly represents support and belief in a proposed project so the commitment of matching cash or in-kind funding can offer a competitive advantage to an applicant.
One-year grants are provided to conduct applied research or identify local strategies that can result in legislative or program policy recommendations. Multiple-year projects may be financially supported for up to three years. However, grantees must submit annual proposals and must fulfill current year grant requirements. The maximum potential grant award is $50,000 per year, per project.
Mini Grants are awarded to projects that focus on basic data collection and analysis, time-sensitive issues, and/or the preparation of reference materials. Projects sponsored as Mini Grants are a maximum of nine months in duration and are eligible for a maximum of $15,000 in Center support.
Researchers submitting their final reports to the Center are asked to follow specific style guidelines, since a consistent style and format of reports allows the Center’s audiences to easily understand the projects’ need, goals and objectives, methods, results, conclusions and policy considerations. This style guide outlines the standard format required for final reports and provides guidelines for presenting material relating to issues included in each report, such as data, surveys, definitions and language.