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Agriculture

USDA Seeks Comments on Food System Supply Chains
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is seeking comments on a department-wide effort to improve and reimagine the supply chains for the production, processing, and distribution of agricultural commodities and food products. USDA is taking this action in response to Executive Order 14017, America's Supply Chains, signed by President Biden on Feb. 24, 2021. The request for comments is published in the Federal Register and the comment period will close on May 21, 2021.

USDA Food and Agriculture Service Learning Program
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) is accepting applications for the Food and Agriculture Service Learning Program. The program seeks to increase the knowledge of agricultural science and improve the nutritional health of children. Its goal is to increase the capacity for food, garden, and nutrition education within host organizations or entities, such as school cafeterias and classrooms, while fostering higher levels of community engagement between farms and school systems by bringing together stakeholders from distinct parts of the food system. The program is part of a broader effort to not only increase access to school meals for low-income children, but also to dramatically improve their quality. The application deadline is May 3. Click here for more information.

New USDA Initiative Offers Pandemic Assistance for Producers
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is establishing new programs and efforts to bring financial assistance to farmers, ranchers and producers who felt the impact of COVID-19 market disruptions. The new initiative, USDA Pandemic Assistance for Producers, will reach a broader set of producers than in previous COVID-19 aid programs. USDA is dedicating at least $6 billion toward the new programs. USDA will also develop rules for new programs that will put a greater emphasis on outreach to small and socially disadvantaged producers, specialty crop and organic producers, timber harvesters, as well as provide support for the food supply chain and producers of renewable fuel, among others. Existing programs like the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) will fall within the new initiative and, where statutory authority allows, will be refined to better address the needs of producers. Click here for more information.

USDA Launches AgLab for Students, Educators
AgLab, a new science-education website operated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service is now available to student and educators. AgLab’s goal is to help  educate students about the critical intersect of science and agriculture in their daily lives, such as wrinkle-free cotton, edible coatings that keep apple slices from turning brown, a low-glycemic sweetener, DEET insecticide, and a bounty of new varieties of fruits and vegetables. Geared toward K-12 students with an interest in food and science, AgLab offers a variety of content to promote a greater understanding of how agricultural research is helping meet the food, fiber, feed and fuel needs of a growing world population while also safeguarding our environment and natural resources.

Value-Added Producer Grants Available
The U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Business-Cooperative Service (Agency) is accepting applications for the Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program. About $76 million is available. The goal of this grant program is to assist viable independent producers, agricultural producer groups, farmer and rancher cooperatives, and majority-controlled producer-based businesses in starting or expanding value-added activities related to the processing and/or marketing of value-added agricultural products. Paper applications must be postmarked by May 4. Applications submitted via grants.gov must be received by April 29. Click here for more information.

Beginning Farmer Tax Credit Program Guidelines
The Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) has program guidelines available on the Beginning Farmer Tax Credit Program. The income tax credit provides an incentive to lease or sell land, buildings, and/or equipment to beginning farmers. The program allows for a one-time tax credit for property sold to a beginning farmer or a multi-year credit for property leased. The tax credit could be used to aid in family transitions, such as sales from a parent to a child, or to help an unrelated beginning farmer. Beginning farmers who participate in the program must be certified by DCED by demonstrating that they have the experience or skills needed to work in agriculture, have not received income from farming for more than 10 years, and plan to farm in Pennsylvania. Property owners can claim a credit equal to 5 percent of the sale price or fair market value (whichever is lower) of an asset sold to a beginning farmer, up to a maximum of $32,000. For rental agreements, the credit is equal to 10 percent of gross rental income for the first, second, and third years of the rental agreement, a maximum of $7,000/year. Click here for more information.

New Report Details Pa Efforts to Combat Chronic Wasting Disease
Pennsylvania has released the report, Combating Chronic Wasting Disease in Pennsylvania, which details the coordinated efforts of state and federal agencies and Pennsylvania research institutions to combat Chronic Wasting Disease, or CWD, a contagious, fatal disease that threatens deer. The report outlines the status of the disease in Pennsylvania, as well as the work in progress to offer testing and other services to hunters, help deer farmers maintain their livelihoods, and diminish disease spread and environmental impact. Click here to download the report.

Pa Preferred Homegrown By Heros Program Open To Farmers Who Are Military Veterans
Homegrown by Heroes is a program for PA Preferred® members who are veterans. The program allows farmers who are military veterans to add the Homegrown by Heroes logo to their products so that consumers can easily identify it and support veteran-owned businesses. A program of the Farmer Veteran Coalition, Homegrown by Heroes was founded by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture in January 2013. To become a certified Homegrown By Heroes member, first become a member of the Farmer Veteran Coalition (membership is free). If you are not yet a member or for more information, visit the Farmer Veteran Coalition website. After your membership has been approved by FVC, you’ll need to become a certified Homegrown By Heroes member. More details can be found on the Farmer Veteran Coalition's Homegrown by Heroes page. Finally, apply to the PA Preferred program (membership is free). Once these requirements have been met, complete the PA Preferred Homegrown by Heroes Application (PDF).

Farmlink Resources Focus On Healthy Farms, Healthy Minds
Pennsylvania Farmlink has posted some new resources for farmers called, Healthy Farms, Healthy Minds. The brochure and video encourage farmers to pay attention to and care for their mental health, just as they would pay attention to the health and vibrancy of their farms. Click here for the video and brochure.

PA Farm Link Database Helps Keep Pa Land In Agriculture
Agriculture is one of Pennsylvania's top industries and it’s important to keep land in agriculture production and help the next generation keep it alive and thriving, Pennsylvania Farm Link offers an online database of farming opportunities for the next generation. There is a one-time fee of $100 to list on the database. Farmer information is kept completely confidential until famers decide they are ready to meet the interested farmer or landowner. Visit the PA Farm Link website at www.pafarmlink.org and click on either the "Find A Farm" or "Find A Farmer" tab to see what is currently available. For more information call (717) 705-2121 or email farmland@pafarmlink.org.

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Broadband

Telecommunications Infrastructure Loans and Loan Guarantee Program
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development is accepting applications for loans and loan guarantees to build or update broadband and telephone infrastructure in rural areas where financing can be used for the construction, improvement, or expansion of telecommunications infrastructure serving rural areas with a population of 5,000 or fewer. The application period is ongoing. Visit USDA Rural Development for more information.

Economic Development Grants for Broadband Infrastructure, Adoption, Skills Training
The Economic Development Administration (EDA will administer $1.5 billion for economic development assistance, which is being administered under the authority of the bureau’s flexible Economic Adjustment Assistance (EAA) program, to provide a wide-range of financial assistance to communities and regions as they respond to and recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. EDA is accepting applications from applicants in rural and urban areas to provide investments that support construction, non-construction, technical assistance, and revolving loan fund projects under EDA’s Public Works and EAA programs, including planning, broadband infrastructure, broadband adoption, digital skills training, and smart cities. Eligible applicants are libraries, higher education institutions, state and local governments, tribal entities, and nonprofit organizations. Grants and cooperative agreements made under these programs are designed to leverage existing regional assets and support the implementation of economic development strategies that advance new ideas and creative approaches to advance economic prosperity in distressed communities. EDA provides strategic investments on a competitive-merit-basis to support economic development, foster job creation, and attract private investment in economically distressed areas. For more information, click here or contact the Philadelphia Regional Office at (215) 597-4603.

Pennsylvania Broadband Investment Incentive Program
The Pennsylvania Governor’s Office of Broadband Initiatives offers funding and resource announcements through its Pennsylvania Broadband Investment Incentive Program. The Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) administers several programs for which broadband deployment may be an eligible use. Click on the name of the following programs to learn about eligibility requirements and program guidelines. Business in Our Sites Grants/Loans; Fay-Penn Program; Keystone Communities Program; Local Share Account (LSA) – Fayette County; Local Share Account (LSA) – Luzerne County; Local Share Account (LSA) – Monroe County; Local Share Account (LSA) – Montgomery County; Local Share Account (LSA) – Washington County; Pennsylvania First Program (PA First); Pennsylvania Economic Development Financing Authority (PEDFA) Tax Exempt Bond Program; Pennsylvania Economic Development Financing Authority (PEDFA) Taxable Bond Program; Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority (PIDA).  For information about how to apply for DCED programs, click here. Assistance with broadband deployment in connection with transportation projects may also be available from the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Bank, a program of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

Funding for Broadband Infrastructure Deployment and Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) will have funding available this summer for broadband infrastructure deployment and pilot programs for connecting minority communities. The Broadband Infrastructure Program will make $300 million available for broadband deployment programs directed to partnerships between a state, or one or more political subdivisions of a state, and providers of fixed broadband service to support broadband infrastructure deployment to areas lacking broadband, especially rural areas. The Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program will make $285 million available to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), and Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) for the purchase of broadband internet access service and eligible equipment or to hire and train information technology personnel. Click here for more information and to sign up for announcements. Starting in April, NTIA will host a webinar series focused on the three new broadband grant programs: the Broadband Infrastructure Program, the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program, and the Connecting Minority Communities Program. Click here for more information and registration.

ALA Summary of Broadband Funding Under American Rescue Plan Act
American Library Association (ALA) Senior Fellow Robert Bocher has written a summary of the American Rescue Plan Act that outlines broadband deployment and access funding under the Act. The author notes that while the E-rate Program’s new $7.17 billion “Emergency Connectivity Fund” is more narrowly focused on broadband and internet connectivity, there are other assistance programs in the Act that may be used for other purposes besides broadband. Click here for the summary.

FCC Launches Emergency Broadband Benefit Program

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has launched an Emergency Broadband Benefit Program to help households struggling to pay for internet service during the pandemic. This new benefit will connect eligible households to jobs, critical healthcare services, and virtual classrooms. The Emergency Broadband Benefit will provide a discount of up to $50 per month towards broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on Tribal lands. Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers if they contribute $10-$50 toward the purchase price. The Emergency Broadband Benefit is limited to one monthly service discount and one device discount per household. A household is eligible if one member of the household: Qualifies for the Lifeline program; Receives benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision, or did so in the 2019-2020 school year; Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year; Experienced a substantial loss of income since February 29, 2020, and the household had a total income in 2020 below $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers; or Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating providers' existing low-income or COVID-19 program. The program has been authorized by the FCC, but the start date has not yet been established. The FCC is working to make the benefit available as quickly as possible. Please continue to check the program webpage for updates.

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Community and Economic Development

Reinventing Our Communities Cohort Program Grants
The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia is accepting applications for the Reinventing Our Communities (ROC) Cohort Program. The program is an in-depth racial equity capacity building program for cross-sector community cohorts to connect, explore, and apply local solutions for small business programs. Participation is a 10-month engagement, from June 2021 to March 2022, in four core areas: (1) racial equity training, (2) community and economic development training, (3) technical assistance, and (4) development of a racial equity plan. The application deadline is May 1. Applicants will be notified by May 10. Click here to apply. For more information or assistance, contact Ali Shott at alison.shott@phil.frb.org or call (215) 574-3970.

Nominate Great Places in PA
The PA Chapter of the American Planning Association is seeking the nomination of Great Public Spaces, Greenways/Trails, & Streets for its Great Places in PA program. If you know a special public space, greenway/trail, or street that displays a wealth of best practices in community planning and serves as a model for other communities, nominate it by visiting https://planningpa.org/about/great-places-in-pennsylvania-2/. The nominations deadline is May 7.

Community Revitalization Grants from Kubota Tractor
Kubota Tractor Corporation is accepting applications for Hometown Proud, a first-ever community revitalization grant program. Cities, towns, municipalities and nonprofits are eligible to submit an application for a chance to win $100,000 in funding and use of Kubota equipment to refresh, refurbish or revitalize a public space. The application process is open now through April 27, 2021, and any community project – from parks, playgrounds, and baseball fields – will be considered. Five finalists will be selected and put to public vote in May; the community project with the highest combined score from points and votes will be awarded the grant during summer 2021. Click here for more information.

Neighborhood Assistance Program Grants Available
The Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development will open the next application window for the Neighborhood Assistance Program (NAP) on March 29. The application deadline is May 28. The program priority is to revive Pennsylvania’s economy by providing tax credits and targeted assistance to distressed areas and low-income populations with a strategic focus on community participation and collaborations among residents, nonprofits, and businesses. The goals of NAP are to provide resources to assist neighborhoods and communities with fiscal difficulties, encourage positive health outcomes, and address the safety and welfare of their residents. As a result, NAP puts communities and targeted areas on the right track to fiscal well-being and self-sufficiency. These programs are intended to benefit low-income populations, and applicant’s proposed projects must not result in the displacement or forced relocation of low-income individuals or households. Click here for the program guidelines and application information.

2021 Home Depot Community Impact Grants Available
The Home Depot Foundation is offering grants of up to $,5000 to nonprofit organizations and public agencies in the U.S. that are using volunteers to improve communities, with a focus on veterans and diverse, underserved communities. Grants are given in the form of gift cards for the purchase of tools, materials, and services. The application deadline is December 31, 2021. Click here for more information.

USDA Accepting Applications for Grants to Support Rural Community Development Projects
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development is accepting grant applications to support economic development in rural communities through the Rural Community Development Initiative (RCDI) Program. RCDI grants are awarded to help nonprofit housing and community development organizations, low-income rural communities and federally recognized tribes support housing, community facilities and community and economic development projects in rural areas. Click here for more information.

USDA Rural Development Funding To Establish Revolving Loan Programs For Rural Businesses
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development is seeking applications for funding to establish revolving loan programs to support rural businesses and community development projects. Subject to the availability of funds, the loans will be established through USDA’s Intermediary Relending Program. Eligible recipients include nonprofits and cooperatives, federally-recognized tribes and public agencies. The revolving loan funds may be loaned to ultimate recipient borrowers to acquire, construct or enlarge a business; purchase or develop land; purchase equipment, machinery or supplies; or for start-up costs and working capital. Click here for more information.

Fed Reserve Releases Latest Survey Results On Conditions In Low- To Moderate-Income Communities
The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia has released the latest Perspectives from Main Street report that is based on findings from its October survey. The Philadelphia Federal Reserve, in partnership with the 11 other Reserve Banks and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, has been surveying representatives of nonprofits, financial institutions, government agencies, and other community organizations to determine the COVID-19’s impact on low- to moderate-income (LMI) communities. The majority of organizations said COVID-19’s impacts on a range of issues — from employment and education to basic consumer needs and health — got modestly or significantly worse since August. While the Third District state data are not a representative sample, there are several areas where the results vary from or are more pronounced than national indicators in the full report: The majority of respondents in the nation (59 percent) and larger majorities of respondents in Pennsylvania (60 percent), New Jersey (69 percent), Delaware (67 percent), report that LMI communities are experiencing significant disruption and expect recovery to be difficult; Income and job loss were cited as the top impacts for respondents in the nation (38 percent) and in Pennsylvania (34 percent), New Jersey (45 percent), and Delaware (58 percent); and The majority of respondents in the nation (56 percent) and in Pennsylvania (60 percent), New Jersey (79 percent), and Delaware (50 percent) report that it will take 12 months for community conditions to return to pre-pandemic levels.

Rural LISC Funding To Develop, Improve Community Facilities
Rural LISC (Local Initiatives Support Corporation) is accepting applications for the Community Facilities Fund, which provides capital to help develop and improve essential community facilities in rural areas. Rural LISC uses this fund to provide permanent and construction-to-permanent financing for rural community facilities, including health care centers, hospitals, educational facilities, and other nonprofit and public facilities in rural communities with populations under 20,000. There is no application deadline. For more information, click here.

PA’S One-Stop Shop For Business Development
Looking for help to start your own business or expand your existing business? Visit Pennsylvania’s Business One-Stop Shop at www.business.pa.gov. The site provides information and resources for businesses both large and small, and serves as the first point of contact for Pennsylvania business development concerns. The shop’s team helps connect and guide businesses through all stages of development — from planning and startup to operating and expanding. Visit www.business.pa.gov or call (833) 722-6778.

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COVID-19

Community Health Workers for COVID Response and Resilient Communities Grants
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has Community Health Workers grants for training and deployment of community health workers to build and strengthen community resilience to fight COVID-19 in geographic areas and populations that experience health disparities. The application deadline is May 24. Visit the Grants.gov website for more information.

U.S. Treasury Fact Sheet on American Rescue Plan Act Funding
The U.S. Department of Treasury has a fact sheet available on the funding components of the American Rescue Plan Act. Click here for the fact sheet.

CDC Community-Based Toolkit on COVID-19 Vaccines and More
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has designed a toolkit to help community-based organizations educate communities about the importance of COVID-19 vaccines, raise awareness about the benefits of the vaccination, and address common questions and concerns. Click here for the toolkit. 

RHIHUB Rural Resources For Covid-19
Rural Health Information Hub (RHIhub) had developed an online guide to provide information about activities underway to address COVID-19, the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Federal and state agencies, along with national organizations, are sharing resources and guidelines to help all communities and healthcare facilities, including rural areas, respond to this issue. Visit www.ruralhealthinfo.org/topics/covid-19 for the latest information.

USDA Rural Development Assistance For Rural Residents, Businesses And Communities Affected By COVID-19
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development has taken several immediate actions to help rural residents, businesses and communities affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Visit USDA Rural Development’s webpage for more information on housing, business, and infrastructure grants, loans and assistance.

Coronavirus Aid, Relief, Economic Security Act Loans
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundationhas announced emergency loans through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act which allocated $350 billion to help small businesses and nonprofits keep workers employed amid the pandemic and economic downturn. Known as the Paycheck Protection Program, the initiative provides 100% federally guaranteed loans to eligible organizations.  Importantly, these loans may be forgiven if borrowers maintain their payrolls during the crisis or restore their payrolls afterward. Click here for a guide, Questions & Answers to some frequently asked questions, and more information on this relief measure.

National Dislocated Worker Grant Funding
The U.S. Department of Labor is offering National Dislocated Worker Grant funding to address the emergency response to COVID-19. The U.S. Department of Labor Employment Recovery Dislocated Worker Grants (DWGs) provide resources to states and other eligible applicants to respond to major economic dislocations, such as large, unexpected layoff events that cause significant job losses. Applications are accepted at any time, provided appropriated funding for the program is available. Click here for application guidelines.

Coronavirus Food Assistance Program For Farmers
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is accepting applications for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), which provides direct payments to farmers and ranchers to offset impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. Through CFAP, USDA is making available $16 billion for vital financial assistance to producers of agricultural commodities who have suffered a 5% or greater price decline due to COVID-19. Click here for more information. 

EDA Accepting Applications For $1.5 Billion To Respond To Covid-19 Pandemic
The U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is accepting applications for EDA CARES Act Recovery Assistance Program, which will provide $1.5 billion for economic development assistance programs to help communities respond to and recover from the impacts of the coronavirus. The application deadline is ongoing. Click here for more information.

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Education

USDA Distance Learning, Telemedicine Grants with Funds for Substance Use Disorder Treatment
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is accepting applications for Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) program grants to help provide educational and medical services in rural areas. The DLT program helps fund distance learning and telemedicine services in rural areas to increase access to education, training, and health care resources that are otherwise limited or unavailable. USDA plans to make $44.5 million available in fiscal year 2021. Of this amount, $10.2 million is intended for projects that provide substance use disorder treatment services in rural areas. Eligible applicants include most state and local governmental entities, federally recognized tribes, nonprofits, and for-profit businesses. Applications must be submitted electronically through grants.gov no later than June 4. For more information, visit the DLT webpage.

Call for Workshop Proposals, Presentations for Multidisciplinary Conference on the Amish and Their Neighbors
The Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown College is accepting workshop proposals for a three-day conference, The Amish and Their Neighbors: A Multidisciplinary Conference, to be held June 2 - 4, 2022. The conference planners welcome proposals from local officials or county/state/federal agencies for 20-minute presentations or 45-minute workshops or seminars that offer case studies related to the conference theme and goals. Proposals for poster sessions are also welcome. Send a clear statement of topic, methods, and significance (350 words or fewer) and a one-page résumé of the presenter by e-mail to amish2022@etown.edu by November 1, 2021. Screening committee decisions will be made by December 15, 2021. The conference planners also welcome suggestions from prospective attendees of topics they would like to see included in the program, which may also be submitted to amish2022@etown.edu.

Food and Ag Service Learning Program Grants
The U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture is accepting applications for the Food and Agriculture Service Learning Program. The program goal is to increase the knowledge of agricultural science and improve the nutritional health of children by increasing the capacity for food, garden, and nutrition education within host organizations or entities, such as school cafeterias and classrooms, while fostering higher levels of community engagement between farms and school systems by bringing together stakeholders from distinct parts of the food system. The initiative is part of a broader effort to not only increase access to school meals for low-income children, but also to dramatically improve their quality. The application deadline is May 3. Click here for more information.

FoodCorps Accepting Applications for 2021-2022 School Year
FoodCorps is now taking applications for the 2021-2022 school year. As a FoodCorps AmeriCorps service member, you’ll spend a year teaching kids about healthy food. Whether you teach virtually or in person, you’ll earn a stipend, a year’s worth of training and professional development resources, and a network of passionate food educators. This is a great opportunity for folks who are committed to food justice, inspired by strong local communities, and creative in the face of a challenge - like serving during a pandemic. FoodCorps is accepting applications until all service member positions are filled, but early application is recommended. For more information, click here.

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Environment

Environmental Justice Small Grant Program
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is accepting applications for the Environmental Justice Small Grants Program. The program supports and empowers communities working on solutions to local environmental and public health issues. The program is designed to help communities understand and address exposure to multiple environmental harms and risks. Special emphasis is placed on projects focusing on COVID-19 impacts, as well as climate and disaster resiliency. The application deadline is May 7. Click here for more information.

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Fire Prevention

Volunteer Fire Assistance Grants Available
Volunteer Fire Assistance Grants are now available from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) to help Pennsylvania rural communities increase protection from wildfires. Local firefighting forces in rural areas or communities with fewer than 10,000 residents qualify for the aid, which is used for training and equipment purchases directly related to fighting brush and forest fires. Grant applications must be electronically submitted through DCNR’s grant website by 4 p.m. on May 13, 2021. To expedite applications and decision-making processes, DCNR is accepting only online applications. Grant recipients are selected based on vulnerability and adequacy of existing fire protection. In application reviews, priority will be placed on projects that include the purchase of wildfire suppression equipment and protective clothing. Grants also may be used for purchasing mobile or portable radios, installing dry hydrants, wildfire prevention and mitigation work, training wildfire fighters, or converting and maintaining federal excess vehicles. These vehicles are presented to the local departments exhibiting the greatest needs and those that commit to outfitting them for fire suppression. Aid is granted on a cost-share basis. Grants for any project during a fiscal year cannot exceed 50 percent of the actual expenditures of local, public, and private nonprofit organizations in the agreement. The maximum grant that will be considered from any fire company in 2021 is $10,000.

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Health and Human Services

USDA Distance Learning, Telemedicine Grants with Funds for Substance Use Disorder Treatment
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is accepting applications for Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) program grants to help provide educational and medical services in rural areas. The DLT program helps fund distance learning and telemedicine services in rural areas to increase access to education, training, and health care resources that are otherwise limited or unavailable. USDA plans to make $44.5 million available in fiscal year 2021. Of this amount, $10.2 million is intended for projects that provide substance use disorder treatment services in rural areas. Eligible applicants include most state and local governmental entities, federally recognized tribes, nonprofits, and for-profit businesses. Applications must be submitted electronically through grants.gov no later than June 4. For more information, visit the DLT webpage.

Domestic Violence Shelter Grants
The Mary Kay Domestic Violence Shelter Grant Program is offering grants to support domestic violence shelters. The Foundation will award a grant to at least one domestic violence shelter in every state that applies, and many grants have gone to rural areas. The application deadline is April 30. Click here for more information.

Rural Health Information Hub Online
If you’re looking for an online source for current and reliable resources and tools on rural health needs and the work being done to address them, check out the Rural Health Information Hub (RHIhub), formerly the Rural Assistance Center. RHIhub is funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy to be a national clearinghouse on rural health issues. RHIhub also provides free assistance customized to your needs. Call (800) 270-1898 or email info@ruralhealthinfo.org.

Angel Flight’s Free, Non-Emergency Air Travel For Rural Children And Adults
Angel Flight East (AFE), founded in Pennsylvania by Harry Morales, a general aviation pilot, is dedicated to rural health by facilitating free air transportation to children and adults in need of medical treatment far from home. AFE is based in Montgomery County, Pa., and serves the Northeast United States. While AFE flies patients from all over a 14-state territory, it has seen an even greater need for patients living in rural areas and those with rare medical conditions who often have to travel far distances for treatment. For more information, click here.

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Historic Preservation

Certified Local Government Grants Available
The Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) has announced two new grant programs exclusively for Certified Local Governments in Pennsylvania. The Certified Local Government Program (CLG) is a partnership between municipal governments, SHPO, and the National Park Service (NPS) that promotes and supports effective historic preservation programs and policies in Pennsylvania municipalities. Designation is a mark of distinction that provides participating communities with credibility, as well as access to technical assistance and grant programs. The CLG Mini-Grant program provides grants up to $7,500 for planning, ordinances, surveys, studies, guidelines, and public education projects (basically anything that is not construction). These grants can be used for projects sponsored by the municipality, or that the municipality applies for on behalf of a partner organization in the community. Mini-grants are available on a rolling basis and are awarded first-come-first-served. Click here for the application. The CLG Scholarship program provides funding for individuals in CLG communities to participate in conferences, seminars, and online programs related to preservation issues, to host speakers and training programs, or to purchase educational materials or memberships in organizations that provide training programs and publications. Scholarships may be up to $2,000 for each individual attending an event or $5,000 per hosted training program. Larger awards will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Scholarships are available on a rolling basis and are awarded first-come-first-served. Click here for the application. Click here for more information about CLG.

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Housing

Older Adult Home Modification Program Funding
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is accepting applications for the Older Adult Home Modification Program. The program supports comprehensive programs that make safety and functional home modifications and limited repairs to meet the needs of low-income elderly homeowners so that they may remain in their homes—or "age in place"—rather than move to nursing homes or other assisted care facilities. Eligible applicants are nonprofit organizations, state and local governments, and public housing authorities. The application deadline is May 4. Click here for more information.

Emergency Rental Assistance Program Open in PA
Effective March 18, Pennsylvanians can submit applications for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) online at www.compass.state.pa.gov. Forty-seven counties have opted to collect applications from county residents through the COMPASS website provided by the Department of Human Services (DHS). DHS will route applications submitted through COMPASS directly to counties for processing. The online application is available in English and Spanish. Applicants can also download and print an application or obtain an application from their county ERAP office. Households may be eligible for up to 12 months of assistance to cover past-due or future rental and/or utility payments. The amount of a household’s monthly rent or utility bills does not preclude eligibility, but the amount of ERAP assistance provided to a household is determined by program administrators at the county level. Assistance can be provided to a tenant for future rental payments, and for unpaid rental or utility arrears that were accrued on or after March 13, 2020 on a residential rental property. Counties may choose to provide additional assistance to eligible households if funds remain available.

Older Adult Homes Modification Program Grants Available
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control is making $30 million available for grants through its Older Adult Home Modification (Home Mod) Program. Home Mod funding will help grantees provide adaptive home adjustments through maintenance and repair projects on the primary residence of eligible, low-income senior homeowners who are at least 62 years old.  At least half of the funds will be awarded to grantees that serve communities with substantial rural populations. Eligible applicants are experienced nonprofit organizations, state and local governments, and public housing authorities. The application deadline is May 4. Click here for more information or email Yolanda.A.Brown@hud.gov. Click here for information about upcoming webinars about the grant. 

USDA Rural Development Housing Loans, Grants, Technical Assistance
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development has several loan and grant programs for homeowners, including the following: Single Family Housing Repair Loans and Grants (Section 504 Home Repair Program), which provide loans to very-low-income homeowners to repair, improve, or modernize their homes or provides grants to elderly very-low-income homeowners to remove health and safety hazards; Rural Home Loans Direct Program (Section 502 Direct Loan Program), which assists low- and very-low-income applicants with obtaining decent, safe, and sanitary housing in eligible rural areas by providing payment assistance to increase an applicant’s repayment ability; and Mutual Self-Help Housing Technical Assistance Grants, which provide grants to qualified organizations to help them carry out local self-help housing construction projects. More information on these and other USDA Rural Development services and programs is available at https://www.rd.usda.gov/pa or by calling (717) 237-2273.

USDA Rural Development Seeks Nonprofit Assistance as Home Loan Application Packagers
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development is looking for nonprofits to assist as loan application packagers for its Section 502 Direct Loan Program. Loan application packagers provide an optional service to parties seeking a housing loan by helping to navigate the loan application process. A packager can help determine if the Section 502 Direct Loan Program is a good fit, and, if so, help to assemble a complete loan application package. Generally, a fee is charged for their service. Packagers do not work for or represent Rural Development. Rural Development supports partnerships with loan application packagers since they can provide outreach and be available in counties where there is not a local Rural Development office. For more information, click here.

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Infrastructure

Community Rides Grant Program
The National Rural Transit Assistance Program (RTAP) is accepting applications for the Community Rides Grant Program. The program offers current recipients and subrecipients of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA)'s Formula Grants for Rural Areas (Section 5311) program the opportunity to apply for grant awards of up to $100,000 for projects that develop or strengthen transportation partnerships that improve social determinants of health in rural and tribal communities. There is no minimum grant award, and local match is not required. The project duration is 15 months. All applications must be submitted through the National RTAP SurveyMonkey Apply online grant portal. For more information and the application questions, download the Request for Proposals (RFP). The application deadline is May 10.

Infrastructure and Capacity Building Challenge Grants
The National Endowment for the Humanities has funding available through Challenge Grants to strengthen the institutional base of the humanities by enabling infrastructure development and capacity building. The program funds two distinct types of projects: Capital Projects support the design, purchase, construction, or renovation of facilities that includes telecommunications, and energy management; and Digital Infrastructure projects support the maintenance, modernization, and sustainability of existing digital scholarly projects and platforms. The application deadlines are May 18 and September 28. Visit the National Endowment for the Humanities website for more information.

Rural Business Development Grant Program for Transportation Services and Facilities
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is accepting applications for grants to improve rural transportation systems through its Rural Business Development Grant program. Eligible applicants are organizations seeking to provide rural communities with training and technical assistance to improve transportation services and facilities. USDA does not provide funding directly to individuals under this program. Applications will be scored, reviewed, and selected on a competitive basis. Applications must be submitted to the applicant’s nearest USDA office by June 30. Contact the Business and Cooperatives Program Director David Foster at (717) 237-2181 or David.Foster@usda.gov with any questions about the program or application process.

USDA Rural Development Loans And Grants Programs
The U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development has the Water and Waste Disposal Direct Loan and Grant Program and Loan Guarantees Program available. The Water and Waste Disposal Direct Loan and Grant Program can provide funding for clean and reliable drinking water systems, sanitary sewage disposal, sanitary solid waste disposal, and storm water drainage to households and businesses in eligible rural areas. The Water and Waste Disposal Loan Guarantees Program can help private lenders provide affordable financing to qualified borrowers to improve access to clean, reliable water and waste disposal systems for households and businesses in rural areas. To learn more about either of these programs, contact your local Pennsylvania USDA Rural Development office here.

America Walks Technical Assistance
America Walks is now offering more intensive, Technical Assistance (T.A.) solutions to government, non-profit, and business clients. With more than 20 years of experience in advocacy campaigns and policy development, America Walks' T.A. program is based on proven strategies for engaging community stakeholders, building local walking movements, and developing the political will that leads to positive change. Click here for more information.

Strengthening Rural America’s Rural Innovation Infrastructure
The Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group has released a new report called "Strengthening Rural America's Rural Innovation Infrastructure." This report focuses on the role, and aggregates the wisdom, of a specific set of intermediaries, called Rural Development Hubs, that are “doing development differently” in rural America. The report focuses on these Hubs because they are main players in advancing an asset-based, wealth-building, approach to rural community and economic development across the country. For a copy of the report, click here.

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Municipal Government

WalkWorks Grants to Help Develop Activity-Friendly Transportation Policies
WalkWorks is accepting applications for its fifth round of assistance to advance policy development related to active transportation. Grants will be offered to a limited number of Pennsylvania municipalities and other governmental bodies to assist with the development of Active Transportation Plans, Complete Streets policies and/or Vision Zero policies. These plans and policies are essential to efforts to establish activity-friendly routes that connect people to everyday destinations, thereby expanding opportunities for physical activity.  For this funding opportunity, active transportation includes walking, wheeling and public transit. Eligible applicants include municipalities, Metropolitan and Rural Planning Organizations (MPOs/RPOs) and other government agencies with the capacity to accomplish the proposed project. A non-mandatory webinar will be held April 9 to provide more information on this funding opportunity. The application deadline is May 14. Click here for more information.

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Opioids/Substance Abuse Disorder

PA DHS And Aging Announce Kinconnector Helpline
The Pennsylvania Departments of Human Services and Aging have announced a new KinConnector helpline for families in kinship care situations, including grandparents, aunts, uncles and siblings raising children because of the opioid crisis. The KinConnector helpline connects families with available resources such as: health, financial, and legal services; training; parenting advice; locating physical or behavioral health services; school enrollment; support groups; and other services designed to help caregivers. Navigators will also be available to help families apply for federal, state, and local benefits. To reach KinConnector, call 1-866-KIN-2111 (1-866-546-2111). Assistance is available Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit www.dhs.pa.gov.

Guidebook Assists Rural Leaders With Response To Crisis Of Addiction
The Office of National Drug Control Policy has released a new guidebook to assist rural community leaders in building an effective local response to the crisis of addiction. The Rural Community Action Guide: Building Stronger, Healthy Drug-Free Rural Communities provides rural leaders with information they can put into immediate action to create change. It provides background information, recommended action steps, and promising practices to help manage the impact of substance use disorder on local communities and help persons with the disease of addiction. The topics are based on lessons learned from Department of Agriculture rural roundtable discussions held in over a dozen states, as well as the experiences of several rural stakeholder partners.  

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Renewable Energy

Public Input Requested for Rural Renewable Energy Pilot Program
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is requesting public input from interested parties, including potential customers and interested stakeholders, to help create a new Rural Renewable Energy Pilot Program. The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (PL116-260) provided $10 million to USDA to develop a pilot program that provides financial assistance to rural communities to further develop renewable energy. This request for information seeks input to help develop options for the Rural Renewable Energy Pilot Program. The new program will aim to support the nation’s critical energy needs, and combat climate change while advancing environmental justice, racial equity, and economic opportunity through distributed energy technologies, innovations, and/or solutions. Public comment is requested on the following topics: Program purposes, goals, metrics, and standards; Eligible applicants, participants, partners including but not limited to communities, residencies, industry, and commercial entities; Eligible technologies including but not limited to generation, storage, controller, and grid; Potential impact of the pilot program and renewable energy systems more broadly on each of the following: environmental justice, racial equity, and economic opportunity; and Options to measure and maximize the benefits of renewable energy systems for environmental justice, racial equity, and economic opportunity in rural areas. Written comments are encouraged and must be submitted online by April 29, 2021, via the Federal eRulemaking Portal. To submit a comment, visit http://www.regulations.gov and search for the Docket ID RBS–21–Business–0010. Follow the online instructions for submitting comments. All comments received will be posted without change and will be publicly available on regulations.gov. For additional information on the request for information and listening session, see page 16575 of the March 30, 2021, Federal Register.

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Veterans

Veteran Housing Grant Program
The Home Depot Foundation’s Veteran Housing Grants Program awards funding to nonprofit organizations throughout the United States and Puerto Rico for the new construction or rehabilitation of permanent supportive housing for veterans. Grants ranging from $100,000 to $500,000 are available for the physical construction or repair of housing for veterans (hard costs); the grant amount must comprise less than 50% of the total development cost of the project. Rural areas will be considered; however, high priority will be given to large metropolitan areas that have a dense veteran population. Nonprofit organizations that have been in existence at least 5 years and have a current operating budget of at least $300,000 are eligible to apply. Upcoming application deadlines are December 12, 2020, March 26, 2021 and July 9, 2021. Click here for more information.

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Workforce Development

USDA Invites Partners to Join the Rural Workforce Innovation Network (RWIN)
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) established the Rural Workforce Innovation Network (RWIN) to create a forum for public and private partners to help increase access to workforce opportunities across rural America. This network represents governmental entities, colleges and universities, nonprofit organizations, and private businesses that are actively working to improve workforce development in their local communities. The kick-off meeting for this effort has already taken place, but more meetings are planned. Click here to learn more and join the network.

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