Catalytic Funding to Start out 2023: A summary of RCP’s first-quarter grantmaking

The Rural Climate Partnership (RCP) is a funding collaborative dedicated to providing hometowns across America with tools and opportunities that can accelerate climate solutions and build healthy local economies. In 2022, the year of its founding, RCP made 16 grants totaling $1.5 million to support rural-specific strategies. In 2023, we are eager to build on our early momentum and support organizations and initiatives dedicated to rural prosperity. 

In the First Quarter of 2023, RCP recommended grants to nearly $1.2 million to 14 leading organizations advancing a clean energy economy, regenerative agriculture, and federal funding implementation to ensure federal climate funding lands in and benefits rural communities. We’re excited to share more about our grantees, their successes, and the great work ahead.

Rural organizing and technical assistance for clean energy deployment

A portion of our First Quarter grantmaking focused on deepening rural organizing and technical assistance to advance clean energy deployment. With the influx of federal climate dollars through the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, communities need support to understand how to access funding and implement new clean energy projects. For example, RCP supported Georgia Interfaith Power and Light to expand their statewide rural organizing capacity to help congregations, communities, and local governments access funding for new clean energy projects, zero-waste efforts, and sustainable land use programs. Similarly, Protect PT is helping small municipalities in western Pennsylvania diversify there economies and access new federal funding to implement green infrastructure projects and build new, better-paying jobs.

Photo from Clean Up the River Environment (CURE), a 2022 RCP grantee, on a farm in Minnesota

RCP knows that building stories of success is critical for shifting narratives in rural America, especially when these efforts center rural people that stand to win the most from improved resilience and economic prosperity. Rural Beacon Initiative in North Carolina received a grant to build a demonstration hub that combines agroforestry with clean energy (known as “agrovoltaics”) to show how to access new economic opportunities while preserving the rich history of Black farming in the Southeast. 

Farmer training and base-building for regenerative agriculture 

Beyond clean energy, RCP grants this first quarter also focused on expanding farmer training and support for regenerative agriculture and working lands. More sustainable practices improve the economic realities for farmers and can help families keep their family farms. For example, our grant to the National Young Farmers Coalition is helping them expand their high-demand fellowship program that provides leadership development to farmers and support to engage on climate and land access issues. 

Pasture-based grazing is one valuable way to reduce the climate impact of livestock production, while reducing farmer costs and opening up new markets. To make good on this opportunity, RCP funded two projects in the Midwest with the Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship to connect dairy farmers and build momentum for climate-friendly dairy systems and GrassWorks to help farmers transition to managed grazing.  Coon Creek Watershed Project and neighboring counties in western Wisconsin are working together to reduce the impacts of extreme flooding through regenerative agriculture while looking to the future to adopt clean energy that reflects community values.

Photo from the Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship Program, a 2023 RCP grantee

Getting ready for the work ahead

Through the dedicated work of rural, place-based organizations like the ones shared here, we can transform rural energy and agricultural systems and build resilience and economic prosperity across rural America. 

We have a vital window of opportunity to strengthen rural economies while accelerating climate solutions and reducing emissions. At the Rural Climate Partnership, we seek to make the most of this moment.  

The Rural Climate Partnership is grateful to our dedicated grantees and partners and looks forward to sharing more about their impactful work in future blog posts. Please stay tuned!

Photo from RegeNErate Nebraska, a 2023 RCP grantee

Below are some additional grants RCP made this during the First Quarter year: 

Climate Nexus is piloting a campaign to identify the messages and messengers that can best accelerate electric pickup truck adoption among rural and Latine/Latinx drivers

RegeNErate Nebraska is working with farmers and other Nebraskans to shift away from extractive industrial food production through policy reform, education, and capacity building

United Today, Stronger Tomorrow is using its Small Town Summit to train organizers to advocate for their communities through climate-funding campaigns at state energy offices and other state bureaucracies

Northern Plains Resource Council is amplifying clean energy support in Montana

After receiving a Build Back Better award, the Appalachian Climate Technology (ACT Now) Coalition is organizing implementation for eight ambitious business development, workforce, and construction projects across Appalachia

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