USDA has opened applications for groups seeking to provide technical assistance to socially-disadvantaged groups in rural areas through USDA's Socially-Disadvantaged Groups Grant Program.
The grant program assists organizations that provide technical assistance to socially-disadvantaged groups in rural areas. Examples of technical assistance are conducting feasibility studies, developing business and strategic plans, and providing leadership training.
"These grants will help socially-disadvantaged business owners develop the tools and skills they need to grow their enterprises and succeed at creating jobs and expanding economic opportunities in rural areas," Vilsack said in a press statement.
USDA plans to make up to $3 million in grants available. The maximum award under this notice is $175,000.
Eligible applicants include groups of cooperatives, cooperative development centers and individual cooperatives that serve socially-disadvantaged groups. The cooperatives or centers can be located in any area, but the groups assisted must be located in an eligible rural area.
Also, the majority of the governing body of the organization must be compromised of individuals who are members of socially-disadvantaged groups.
USDA Rural Development is encouraging applications for projects in census tracts with poverty rates of 20% or higher. All grants are awarded through a national competition.
One example of a program that has benefited from the grants is the Southern California Focus on Cooperation group. It received a $200,000 Small, Socially-Disadvantaged Producer Grant in 2013 to provide technical assistance to help 95 refugee immigrant and minority farmers improve their productive capacity, increase revenue, and strengthen their ability to govern and manage their cooperative businesses.
Many of the farmers benefiting from the project had little or no access to formal schooling and had been persecuted and oppressed for years in their native land.
More information on how to apply can be found on page 28937 of the May 20 Federal Register. Applications submitted by mail must be postmarked by July 20, 2015. Electronic applications must be submitted at grants.gov no later than midnight ET, July 14, 2015.