Supporting rural people in rural America

Heartland Fund supports the ongoing transformative work of hundreds of groups and local leaders in rural communities across the country.

By joining national funding with growing local and state-level funder networks, we support groups to build consensus and implement the policies required for rural and small-town communities to have a vibrant, successful future. We invest deeply in places where rural action will impact communities, protect core freedoms, and create momentum local, state, and federal change. Heartland Fund grants help build sustainable organizational infrastructure and effective multi-organization partnerships to increase our effectiveness and long-term success.

Heartland Fund is building capacity in three areas to support rural civic infrastructure.

Grantee Stories

Increasing Civic Engagement

We support grantees to register voters, develop leaders, and mobilize them to participate in elections and civic life. We know that when rural communities get organized, we can create changes that have national impacts.

Heartland Fund Network

Bolstering Communications

Our network performs influential research, develops effective communications, and delivers messages that resonate. Our grantees combat misinformation in rural areas while amplifying the work being done to improve the lives of the people who live here.

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Advocating for Meaningful Policy and Implementation

Heartland Fund grantees research, create, and support policies that make a difference in the lives of rural people and communities. Their education campaigns ensure that rural people can advocate for policy that benefits their communities. And they provide robust implementation programs to maximize benefits for rural people.

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Heartland Fund Grant Guidelines

Heartland Fund grants build power in small cities, towns, and rural areas and strengthen broad-based, multi-racial coalitions. The grants support organizing that delivers concrete solutions that make a real difference in the lives of rural people.

Heartland Programs

Heartland Fund provides grants to organizations through four programs.

  • Rural Democracy invests in groups that protect and expand nonpartisan civic participation across rural areas and combat narratives and policies that harm our democratic institutions and infrastructure. 
  • Rural Youth Voter Fund, part of the Rural Democracy program, mobilizes rural young people, who are among the least contacted voters of any demographic group.
  • Rural Climate Partnership engages rural working people, small businesses, and family farmers to realize the economic and community benefits of clean energy, regenerative agriculture, and other climate solutions. To submit a Rural Climate Partnership Letter of Interest, visit Rural Climate Partnership grantmaking.
  • Resource Rural is an ambitious five-year project that engages experts in rural development, federal government, research, and communications to maximize the rural impact of new federal funding.

Rural Democracy Grantmaking

Learn about Heartland Fund's Rural Democracy grantmaking

Grantmaking Criteria

We evaluate Rural Democracy grant requests based on the following criteria.

  • Geographic Fit: Is the work deeply rooted in rural areas, small cities, and towns? Is the organization committed to building power in these communities for the long term? Is the work in a Heartland Fund priority state?
  • Impact: Would Heartland Fund’s investment have a high impact on civic and/or community outcomes? We are interested in scaling up new organizations and projects as well as funding long-standing organizations.
  • Racial Equity: Does the organization have an anti-racist analysis and commitment? Is the work led by and/or serving communities of color? Is organizational leadership representative of the community it is serving? Is racial equity incorporated into the organization’s leadership, staff, and membership?
  • Collaboration: Is the organization connected to broader networks of civic infrastructure? Is the work uplifting rural priorities in state-wide, regional, or federal efforts?
  • Strategic Alignment: Does the organization work on priority issues for rural communities, including democracy, economic justice, narrative change and communications, and policy change?
  • Leadership: Does the organization have strong leadership? Does the organization have a theory of change or realistic plan to achieve key goals?
  • Learning and Movement Analysis: Is the organization generating knowledge or tools that will benefit other groups in the Heartland Fund network?

Grantmaking Examples

Our Rural Democracy nonpartisan 501c3 grants fund:

  • Leadership development and training
  • Nonpartisan deep canvassing and relational organizing
  • Nonpartisan civic engagement and get-out-the-vote
  • Multi-issue organizing and policy change
  • Communications: messaging, media, platforms
  • Grassroots organizing and community education

Funding requests may include:

  • Existing local projects with proven track records
  • High-potential new civic engagement programs
  • National or state organizations with programs based in rural areas
  • Media platforms that reach rural communities  (e.g., a communications hub)
  • Experiments – new ways to engage rural communities
  • Organizational support, tools, training, and leadership development

 

In 2024, we are prioritizing funding for our existing network and are not accepting letters of interest for prospective new grantees for our Rural Democracy program.

2023 Heartland Fund Grantees

Key

Đ = Democracy Program
© = Rural Climate Partnership
® = Resource Rural


National & Multistate

Action for the Climate Emergency Đ
American Conservation Coalition ©
Beneficial Electrification League ©
Black Male Voter Project Education Fund Đ
Brookings Institution ®
Climate Nexus ©
Coltura ©
State Leadership Project Đ
COURIER Đ
Dirtroad Organizing Đ
Farm Action Đ
Food and Farm Communications Fund ©
Food System 6 ©
HEAL Food Alliance Đ
Health Care for America Now Education Fund Đ
The Hometown Outreach Fund Đ
Institute for Local Self-Reliance Đ
Mainstreet Alliance Đ
Manufactured Housing Action Đ
National Young Farmers Coalition ©
People's Action Institute Đ
Progressive Pipeline Đ
Public News Service Đ ©
RE-CET ©
Reimagining Rural Assistance Network Đ
RuralOrganizing.org Education Fund Đ
Save USPS Campaign Đ
Small Business Majority Đ
State Innovation Exchange Đ
United for Respect Education Fund Đ
United Today, Stronger Tomorrow (UTST) ©
Vot-ER Đ
Winning Jobs Narrative / Movement Advancement Project Đ ®
Working America Education Fund Đ


Regional: Midwest

Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship ©
Grassworks ©
Localyst ©
RE-AMP ©
Rural Regeneration through Climate Action Narrative Project ©
University of Michigan ©


Regional: South

Communities Unlimited Inc. ®
Hope Enterprise Corporation ®


Regional: South and East

United South and Eastern Tribes ®


Regional: Southwest

Native Renewables ©


Alaska

Alaska Public Interest Research Group (AKPIRG) Đ ©
Alaska Voter Hub Đ
The Mobilization Center Đ


Arizona

Common Defense Education Fund Đ
Civic Engagement Beyond Voting Đ
Local First Arizona ®
Rural Arizona Engagement Đ


Colorado

Colorado Agrivoltaics Learning Center ©


Georgia

Beneficial Electrification League ©
Black Voters Matter Capacity Building Institute Đ
EcoWomanist Institute ©
Faith in Public Life Đ
GA Interfaith Power and Light ©
Groundswell ©
New Georgia Project Đ
Southwest Georgia Regional Commission ®
Sustainable Georgia Futures ©


Illinois

Grassroots Collaborative Đ
Prairie Rivers Network ©


Indiana

Faith in Indiana Đ
Hoosier Action Đ
Earth Charter Indiana ©
Indiana Agriculture Coalition for Renewable Energy ©
Indiana University Environmental Resilience Institute ©
Jasper County Economic Development Organization ©
Solar United Neighbors ©


Iowa

Center for Rural Affairs ©
Clean Energy Districts of Iowa ©
Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement Đ
Iowa Farmers Union Đ
Progress Iowa Đ


Kansas

Kansas Interfaith Action Đ
Loud Light Đ
Neighboring Movement Đ


Maine

Food AND Medicine Đ
Maine People’s Resource Center Đ
Maine Voices Network Đ
Our Power ©


Michigan

Groundwork Center ©
Michigan Faith in Action Đ
Michigan United Đ
Progress Michigan Education Fund Đ
Title Track Đ
United Farm Workers Foundation Đ
We the People Michigan Đ


Minnesota

Honor the Earth Đ
ISAIAH Đ
Land Stewardship Project ©
Minnesota Voice Đ
Region Five Development Commission ©


Missouri

KC Tenants Đ
Missouri Rural Crisis Center Đ


Montana

Montana Women Vote Đ
Northern Plains Resource Council Đ ©
United Today, Stronger Tomorrow Đ
Western Native Voice Đ
Women in Ranching ©


Nebraska

Civic Nebraska Đ
Heartland Workers Center Đ
Regenerate Nebraska ©


New Hampshire

350NH Đ
Forward Foundation Đ
Amplify New Hampshire Đ
Granite State Organizing Project Đ
New Hampshire Youth Movement ©


New Mexico

Covenant Pathways ©
La Semilla Food Center ©
Somos Un Pueblo Unido ©


North Carolina

Blueprint NC Đ
Rural Beacon Initiative ©
Somos Siembra Đ
We Are Down Home Đ


Ohio

Innovation Ohio Education Fund Đ
RuralOrganizing.org Đ


Oregon

Rural Organizing Project Đ


Pennsylvania

CASA PA Đ
Center for Coalfield Justice Đ
New Pennsylvania Project Education Fund Đ
PA Stands Up Institute Đ
Pittsburgh United Đ
Protect PT ©
RegenAll ©


Texas

Arise Adelante Đ
Barbara Jordan Leadership Institute Đ
Chispa TX Đ
Este Poder Đ
Local Progress Đ
LUPE Đ
Mano Amiga Đ
Polichic Đ
Trucha Đ


Utah

Rural Utah Project Education Fund Đ


Virginia

2020 Farmers Cooperative©
Appalachian Voices©
CASA VA Đ
Virginia Organizing Đ


Washington

Rural People’s Voice / Firelands Workers United Đ


West Virginia

Act Now Coalition ®
West Virginia Can’t Wait Mutual Aid Đ
West Virginia Civic Engagement Table Đ
Young West Virginia Forward Đ


Wisconsin

Action for the Climate Emergency Đ
All in Wisconsin Fund Đ
Citizen Action of Wisconsin Education Fund Đ
Clean Wisconsin ©
Empower Project Đ
Progress North Đ
TurnUp Đ
Vernon LWCD ©
Voces de la Frontera Đ
Wisconsin Native Vote Đ
Wisconsin Public Education Network Đ
Wisconsin Rural Coalition Đ
Wisconsin Farmers Union Foundation Đ
Wisconsin Office of Rural Prosperity ®
WISDOM Đ