Resources Available for Rural Communities Facing Design Challenges

Application Deadline is February 16, 2018
Teens at table next to school bus with posters on it.
Residents view the preliminary MacIntyre Park master plan vision and student projects during a tailgate event for the 2016 Thomasville, Georgia CIRD Workshop. Photo by Angela Moreno-Long, Project for Public Spaces 
Washington, DC— The  Citizens' Institute on Rural DesignTM (CIRD), a leadership initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts, has issued a request for proposals inviting communities to apply for design assistance. The CIRD program provides rural communities with populations of 50,000 or less the opportunity to address challenges related to economic vitality and quality of life by employing design solutions. CIRD convenes two-day workshops with design professionals, local leaders, community organizations, and residents to create a plan for tackling issues around three topic areas—multimodal transportation, healthy living by design, and main street revitalization. Topic areas include challenges such as:  •    Improving bike and pedestrian access in communities •    Integrating arts, culture, and design elements to improve the transportation experience •    Developing recreational trails for mobility and economic development •    Creating public space that supports play and active recreation •    Improving access to healthy food and local food eco-systems •    Utilizing creative placemaking strategies, adaptive reuse, and historic preservation to enliven main street.

To host these workshops, successful applicants will receive a $10,000 stipend, and in-kind professional design expertise and technical assistance, which are valued at $35,000. Selected communities are required to provide $10,000 in matching funds (cash or in-kind services). The workshops include site visits, panel discussions, and presentations led by professionals who have expertise in a range of rural design topics.

Organizations interested in applying for the CIRD 2018 workshop program will find the request for proposals posted on the CIRD website with the accompanying application guidelines.

To answer questions and guide interested applicants in assembling their proposals, CIRD will offer a free how-to-apply webinar on January 25, 2018, 3:00-4:00pm EST. Registration for the webinar is required.

All applications must be submitted electronically on or before February 16, 2018, at 5 pm EST. The four selected organizations will be announced in April 2018, with the workshops held in the fall of 2018.

Since its inception in 1991, CIRD has convened 83 workshops in all regions of the country with results that range from strengthened local economies, enhanced rural character, the leveraging of cultural assets, and the design of recreational trails. Read more about CIRD’s successful past workshops and explore the resource-rich website gathered from diverse organizations across the country. It is a place for citizens and practitioners alike to access information and inspiration to improve their own communities.  The Citizens' Institute on Rural DesignTM (CIRD) is a design leadership initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Project for Public Spaces, Inc., and the Orton Family Foundation.    About the National Endowment for the Arts  Established by Congress in 1965, the NEA is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the NEA supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. Visit to learn more about NEA.  About Project for Public Spaces, Inc. Project for Public Spaces (PPS) is a nonprofit planning, design, and educational organization dedicated to helping people create and sustain public spaces that build stronger communities. Founded in 1975, PPS has completed projects in over 2,500 communities and all 50 US states.  PPS has become an internationally recognized center for resources, tools, and inspiration about Placemaking. Visit PPS at About the Orton Family Foundation  Orton Family Foundation is focused on building stronger, healthier, and more economically vibrant small cities and towns across America. Founded in Vermont in 1995, the foundation devoted more than a decade to working with small towns to create a community development model that helps build trust and empowers residents to shape the future of their communities. Community Heart & Soul® projects are underway across the country creating positive change that is resident-driven and recognizes the value in the unique character of each place and the deep emotional connection of the people who live there. Visit Orton Family Foundation at


Angela Moreno-Long CIRD Program Manager Project for Public Spaces Victoria Hutter  Assistant Director – Press  National Endowment for the Arts