Established in 1991 by the National Endowment for the Arts as Your Town: the Citizens' Institute on Rural Design™, CIRD has supported more than 100 communities in all regions of the country, empowering residents to leverage local assets for the future in order to make better places to live, work, and play. CIRD was founded as a partnership between the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the State University of New York (SUNY) at Syracuse. From 2012 to 2018, CIRD was managed in partnership with Project for Public Spaces, Inc., along with the Orton Family Foundation. Since 2019 the program has been hosted in partnership with the Housing Assistance Council.
CIRD works with a geographic cross section of communities that demonstrate community capacity and strong partnerships, a commitment to diverse participation and engagement of all the demographic groups present in their community, and the potential to achieve actionable results. Each of the communities that has hosted a CIRD workshop has identified design issues of immediate relevance not only to their town, but to other rural communities as well.