Resources Available for Rural Communities Facing Design Challenges

Lynchburg, TN


by Angela Moreno-Long, CIRD Program Manager, Project for Public Spaces –

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 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


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