Grant funding up to $175,000 available for Socially-Disadvantaged Groups seeking business plans, feasibility studies, or strategic planning

USDA Rural Business-Cooperative Service (USDA) is accepting applications under their Socially-Disadvantaged Groups Grant program with a maximum award amount of $175,000 and a total funding availability of $3,000,000. There is no matching requirement.

What is the Socially-Disadvantaged Groups Grant (SDGG)?

The purpose of the SDGG is to provide technical assistance to Socially-Disadvantaged Groups –a group whose members have been subjected to racial, ethnic, or gender prejudice because of their identity as members of a group without regard to their individual qualities. Projects must be located in rural areas.

Who is eligible to apply?

Eligible applicants include cooperatives, groups of cooperatives, and cooperative development centers whose primary focus is to provide assistance to Socially-Disadvantaged Groups and where a majority of their board of directors or governing board is comprised of individuals who are members of Socially-Disadvantaged Groups.

What projects are eligible?  

Eligible projects will offer technical assistance to Socially-Disadvantaged Groups in rural areas. Technical assistance is defined as an advisory service performed for the purpose of assisting cooperatives or groups that want to form cooperatives such as: 

  • Market research,
  • Product and/or service improvement,
  • Legal advice and assistance,
  • Feasibility studies
  • Business planning,
  • Marketing plan development, and
  • Training.

Applications must demonstrate that they are providing services to new customers or new services to current customers.

What kind of applications will receive highest consideration?  

USDA encourages projects that will support recommendations made in the Rural Prosperity Task Force report to help improve life in rural America, considering projects that provide measurable results in helping rural communities build robust and sustainable economies through strategic investments in infrastructure, partnerships and innovation.

Returning applicants can score up to 95 points within the elements of technical assistance, work plan/budget, experience, commitment and local support. New applicants have the option of receiving an extra 1-10 points for a maximum score of 105.  This reflects administrator discretionary points of up to 10 points, which can be awarded to an eligible applicant who has never previously been awarded an SDGG grant, and whose work plan and budget supports one or more of the following five key strategies:

  1. Achieving e-Connectivity for rural America
  2. Developing the Rural Economy
  3. Harnessing Technology Innovation
  4. Supporting a Rural Workforce
  5. Improving Quality of Life

What is the project duration?

The project duration is 12-months or less; the proposed time frame should begin no earlier than October 1, 2020 and end no later than December 31, 2021.

USDA may approve requests to extend the grant period for up to an additional 12 months at its discretion.

What is the funding level for the SDGG?

The maximum award amount for this grant is $175,000 with a total funding availability of $3,000,000.

Is there a cost-sharing/match requirement?

There is no cost-sharing/match requirement for this program.

When is the application due?

Completed applications must be submitted electronically by no later than midnight Eastern Time August 10, 2020.

The full Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) is available here.

For more information on this grant or how to apply with Morrison’s assistance, please contact the Morrison Grants Team by email at grants@morrisonco.net or call us at 530-893-4764.

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