How to apply

Every two years, the National Endowment for the Arts seeks rural communities of 50,000 people or less to apply for the Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design program. With over 30 years of leadership in rural design, CIRD is perfect for creative, community-oriented rural leaders. The next opportunity to apply is early 2023 (sign up for the newsletter to keep in touch until then!).

Application Currently Closed

CIRD would like to thank all of the organizations and communities that applied for the 2021-2022 program. To learn more about CIRD and the application process review the RFA materials on this site.

Application Open

CIRD would like to thank all of the organizations and communities that applied for the 2021-2022 program. To learn more about CIRD and the application process review the RFA materials on this site.
Workshop participants on a site visit in Thomasville, GA.

Committed, visionary, and proud to call rural America home, our selected applicants emerge from CIRD programs with greater capacity and a wealth of resources to lead their community through current and future design challenges.

Are you a good fit?

Applicants must

  • Be part of a rural or tribal community of 50,000 or less, that is rural in character
  • Identify a specific design challenge to address through the CIRD program
  • Be able to participate in CIRD as indicated in Participation Expectations below 
  • Plan a workshop with CIRD staff during the designated period of programming

If you meet all of the criteria above, we invite the following entities to apply

  • Municipal, tribal, or county governments 
  • Local nonprofit organizations, including but not limited to Main Street
    organizations, art centers, preservation groups, historical societies, or chambers of commerce, working in rural areas 
  • Regional planning organizations working in rural areas 
  • University community design centers or university agricultural/extension offices with close ties to the community presenting the design challenge
  • Partnerships of the entities listed above are encouraged to apply 
Read about Rural Eligibility

Choose your program

Local Design Workshops

  • Roughly Four (4) communities will be selected to do a deep dive into a pressing design challenge that is impacting their community.
  • $6,000 stipend to the host community for workshop staff time and related expenses 
  • A  tailored virtual design process working with a dedicated resource team, including goal setting, and online sessions with design experts to assist with project visioning and advancement toward implementation 
  • A Design Book and action plan following the workshop, with project-specific design and planning recommendations, created by the CIRD resource team

Design Learning Cohort

  • 15-20 communities from the applicant pool will be invited to participate in virtual training in design, planning, community engagement, and facilitation techniques;
  • A series of online learning sessions and public webinars led by nationally recognized field experts, tailored to engage cohort members and activate peer learning;
  • Technical assistance through office hours, one-on-one coaching, optional in-person convenings, and online resources;
  • Additional opportunities to socialize and share best practices and experiences with rural peers from around the country.

Review the Request for Applications

The Request for Applications contains further details about the program goals, eligibility, benefits, expectations, and a preview of all the application questions. This document, along with the Design Learning Cohort prospectus, timeline, and public engagement opportunities, will help you present your rural community to our panelists.
View RFA Documents