Enhancing the quality of life and economic vitality of rural America through design

Committed to supporting rural America, the Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design (CIRD) helps communities convert their own good ideas into reality.
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Architect Jim Leggitt creates sketches for Valentine, NE's Main Street. Photo by Jenny Nixon.
Discussing architectural approaches for Mt. Zion Baptist Church during a workshop in Athens, OH. Photo by Lisbet Portman, To Be Done Studio.

What is the

Citizens’ Institute
on Rural Design?

The Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design (CIRD) is a leadership initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the Housing Assistance Council.

Focusing on communities with populations of 50,000 or less, CIRD empowers local citizens to use their unique artistic and cultural resources to guide local development and shape the future design of their communities.
Community members share ideas for Penobscot Avenue during the workshop in Millinocket, ME. Photo by Malorrie Ann Photography.
Cleanup activities along the Gallinas River following a workshop in Las Vegas, NM. Photo courtesy Hermits Peak Watershed Alliance.
Community members in Hidalgo County, TX. Photo by Omar Hakeem.

What we do

CIRD offers competitive funding to host multi-day, community design workshops guided by design, planning, and creative placemaking professionals as well as design-driven peer learning programs and events. 

Design Learning Cohorts

Building a network of community leaders engaged in design, across rural America.
Community members discuss their projects at the Design Learning Cohort Summit. Photo by Bella Green.
Touring and talking with local business owners in Thomas, WV, during the Design Learning Cohort Summit. Photo by Bella Green.
Ribbon cutting ceremony at the opening of the Tuttle Rural Innovation Center (TRIC) in Tuttle, ND.
Migrant farm workers in Wasco, CA, discuss affordable housing and community design. Photo by Omar Hakeem.

Local Design Workshops

Supporting small towns and rural communities in addressing local design challenges.
Mural painting in Laramie, WY. Photo courtesy Laramie Main Street.