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Value-Added Producer Grant Applications Due March 22
The U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Business-Cooperative Service (Agency) is accepting applications for the Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program. Approximately $19 million is currently 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. The application deadline is March 22, 2021. 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 Department Of Agriculture To Operate Disaster Household Distribution Program
The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has received federal approval to operate a Disaster Household Distribution program, through The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), to provide critical food supplies to Pennsylvanians adversely affected as a result of statewide COVID-19 mitigation efforts. On March 28, the department received approval to use U.S. Department of Agriculture foods as part of a Disaster Household Distribution program being operated through the state’s network of food banks, food pantries, and pop-up distribution sites. The approval allows the department and its partners to more efficiently distribute a variety of foods – including meats, vegetables, fruit, canned goods, cereal, rice, pasta, eggs, and more – to those most affected by the closure of non-life sustaining businesses in Pennsylvania. Click here for more information.

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 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



USDA Toolkit To Support Deployment Of High-Speed Broadband
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has launched a new toolkit to help support the deployment of high-speed broadband e-Connectivity in rural communities. The e-Connectivity Toolkit features 27 USDA programs that support broadband deployment. The easy-to-use resource is a simple guide that allows customers to identify their type of e-Connectivity project and locate resources the federal government offers for planning, equipment, construction, research and other e-Connectivity projects. Resources such as grants, loans and technical assistance are available from multiple Mission Areas at USDA, including Rural Development, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Farm Service Agency, National Resources Conservation Service, and Forest Service. The toolkit also highlights examples of how e-Connectivity resources are being used to increase access to broadband services in rural communities. Click here for the toolkit.

Download TESTIT, The Rural Broadband Mapping App
To continue gathering data about broadband availability and speed, the National Association of Counties (NACo), Rural Local Initiatives Support Corporation (Rural LISC), Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP), and National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) have created a mobile app that allows individual users to accurately identify areas with low or no broadband connectivity. The data from the app are aggregated to identify gaps in broadband coverage, help guide advocacy for adequate funding, and inform decision-making at federal, state, and local levels. To date, the mobile app has been downloaded 4,500 times and 190,000 tests have been run. To download the app, click here. Click here for the link to a one page description of the app. Click here to see the state data collected so far.


Community and Economic Development

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.

Small Business Advantage Grant Program Funds Available For Energy Efficiency, Pollution Protection
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced the availability of $1 million in grant funding to Pennsylvania small businesses and farmers for energy efficiency, pollution prevention, and natural resource protection projects through the Small Business Advantage grant program. New to the program this year is the opportunity for farmers to install solar pumping systems for their agricultural operations. Pennsylvania-based small business owners with 100 or fewer full-time equivalent employees are eligible. Projects must save the business a minimum of $500 and 25 percent annually in energy consumption, or pollution related expenses. Businesses can apply for 50 percent matching funds of up to $7,000 to adopt or acquire energy-efficient or pollution prevention equipment or processes. Only costs incurred between July 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021 are eligible. Applications will be considered first come, first served, and will be accepted until fiscal year 2020-21 funds are exhausted or April 12, 2021, whichever occurs first. All applications must be submitted through the Commonwealth’s Single Application for Assistance website. Printed, faxed, and mailed applications are not accepted. Click here for more information.

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 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 or call (833) 722-6778.



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 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.


Health and Human Services

Chart Model Funding Opportunity For Rural Community Health Access
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is accepting applications for the Community Health Access and Rural Transformation (CHART) Model. CHART is a voluntary payment model designed to meet the unique needs of rural communities. The CHART Model will test whether aligned financial incentives, increased operational flexibility, and robust technical support promote rural health care providers’ capacity to implement effective health care delivery system redesign on a broad scale. The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) will evaluate the impact of the CHART Model on Medicare and Medicaid expenditures, access to care, quality of care, and health outcomes for rural residents. The application deadline is February 16, 2021. 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

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.


Historic Preservation

Keystone Historic Preservation Grants Available
The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) is now accepting applications from nonprofit organizations and local governments for the Keystone Historic Preservation Grant Program. The grants support projects that identify, preserve, promote and protect historic and archaeological resources in Pennsylvania for both the benefit of the public and community revitalization. The grants receive funding from the Keystone Recreation, Park, and Conservation Fund. Almost $2.2 million has been set aside for this program. Two categories of grants – construction and planning – are available for historic resources in Pennsylvania listed, or eligible for listing, in the National Register of Historic Places. Applicants may apply for only one type of grant. Construction grants are available for rehabilitation, preservation and restoration activities for historic resources that are publicly accessible and under nonprofit or local government ownership. Keystone Historic Preservation Construction Grants are available between $5,000 and $100,000 and require a 50/50 cash match. Project grants are available for planning and development initiatives that enhance historic preservation in communities. Project grant applications may include municipal planning initiatives focusing on historic resources or may be used to meet building - or project - specific planning goals. Keystone Historic Preservation Project Grants are available between $5,000 and $25,000 and require a 50/50 cash match. PHMC will host two webinars about the Keystone Grant program guidelines and application process. Prospective applicants can register for either webinar or both. Applications are due March 1, 2021. Grants will be awarded through a competitive selection process and are contingent on the availability of funds. All PHMC grant applications are now submitted on the Commonwealth’s Single Application for Assistance system. The PHMC website has eligibility information and grant guidelines.



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.


Opioids/Substance Abuse Disorder

Grants for Rural Communities Opioid Response Program - Psychostimulant Support
The Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) will be making approximately 15 awards of up to $500,000 each to rural communities through the new Rural Communities Opioid Response Program - Psychostimulant Support. The goal of this new effort is to strengthen and expand prevention, treatment, and recovery services for rural individuals who misuse psychostimulants, and to enhance their ability to access treatment and move towards recovery over a 3-year project timeline. The application deadline is April 12. Click here for more information.

Funding For Rural Communities Opioid Response Program - Implementation
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is accepting applications for funding under the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program – Implementation. RCORP is a multi-year HRSA initiative with the goal of reducing morbidity and mortality resulting from substance use disorder (SUD), including opioid use disorder (OUD), in high risk rural communities. RCORP-Planning will advance RCORP’s overall goal by strengthening and expanding the capacity of rural communities to provide SUD/OUD prevention, treatment, and recovery services. The application deadline is March 12, 2021. For more information, click here.

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

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.  



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.


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.