CIRD supports host communities before and after their workshops via informational conference calls and webinars that cover critical topics in community engagement, rural design, partnership development, and workshop planning.

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About CIRD

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’s goal is to enhance the quality of life and economic viability of rural America through planning, design, and creative placemaking.

CIRD is intended to empower local citizens to capitalize on unique local and regional assets in order to guide the civic development and future design of their own communities. The CIRD program goals include:

  • Building capacity in rural communities to plan comprehensive revitalization strategies;
  • Introducing creative placemaking, arts, culture, and design strategies as drivers of economic development in rural America;
  • Facilitating a network of rural communities for idea exchanges and peer learning; and
  • Preparing communities to be ready and competitive for state and federal funding opportunities.

How We Work

CIRD provides communities access to the resources they need to convert their own good ideas into reality. The program offers competitive funding to small towns and rural and tribal communities to host a multi-day community design workshop. With support from a wide range of design, planning, and creative placemaking professionals, the workshops bring together local residents and local leaders from non-profits, community organizations, and government to develop actionable solutions to the community's pressing design challenges. The community receives additional support through webinars, web-based resources, and customized follow-up support after the workshop.

Under the Housing Assistance Council’s leadership, the program has expanded to include support for additional rural communities through the Design Learning Cohort program. Selected community leaders are invited to gather together for peer learning; training in design, planning, community engagement, and facilitation techniques; and support in navigating funding opportunities to make their vision a reality. Both parts of the CIRD program connect rural residents with resources and ideas for developing locally driven solutions to community design challenges.