NEA The Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design (CIRD) Solicitation

Program Summary 

The purpose of this program solicitation is to select an organization (Cooperator) to plan and administer the Citizens' Institute on Rural Design™ (CIRD), a program of the National Endowment for the Arts. The CIRD was created in 1991 with the goal of enhancing the quality of life and economic viability of rural America through planning, design, and creative placemaking. In the past, the program has hosted annually up to four, multi-day workshops in communities across the nation with populations of 50,000 or less to develop locally driven solutions for improving the ways a community looks, its quality of life, and its economic viability. These workshops have addressed specific planning and design issues including downtown revitalization, economic development, arts-based development strategies, creative business incubation, multimodal transportation, housing, and healthy living by design. While the CIRD has successfully empowered local citizens to help capitalize on unique local and regional assets in order to guide the civic development of their own communities, the NEA has four overall areas of special interest: (1) building capacity in rural communities to plan comprehensive revitalization strategies; (2) introducing creative placemaking, arts, culture, and design strategies as drivers of economic development in rural America; (3) facilitating a network of rural communities for idea exchanges and peer learning; and (4) preparing communities to be ready and competitive for state and federal funding opportunities.

Applicants should propose a comprehensive plan for the CIRD program that addresses its goal and the four areas of special interest. In the past, the CIRD has used a local workshop format in selected communities; however, we are open to different solutions such as local design workshops, regional or peer exchange convenings, a training program for field leaders to host their own local workshops, or any combination of these elements. Specific CIRD program activities could include, but are not limited to: public design workshops to help rural communities plan for their future; convening experts to deliver practical how-to training and ideas for rural community leaders; and building a cohort of rural communities (in a single state or region) to learn from design experts and from each other.


CU Internal Deadline: 11:59pm MST July 11, 2018

Sponsor Application Deadline: 9:59pm MST August 8, 2018

Internal Application Requirements (all in PDF format)

  • Project Narrative (up to 2 pages): Please include information on the following: expertise and experience that qualify you for this project, plans to develop and administer the CIRD, and how you will handle communications.
  • Project Team (up to 1 page): Please list key personnel and partners to be involved in the project.
  • Budget Overview (up to 1 page): A basic budget outlining project costs is sufficient; detailed OCG budgets are not required.

To access the online application, visit:


There are no special eligibility requirements.

Limited Submission Guidelines

An organization may submit only one proposal under this program solicitation.

Award Information and Duration

Award Amount: $350,000

Number of Awards: 1

Award Term: Up to 24 months.