What is an RCDG?
The goal of the RCDG program is to help establish and operate Cooperative Development Centers that have the primary purpose of improving the economic condition of rural areas through the development of new cooperatives and the improvement of operations of existing cooperatives. The grant is intended to help centers provide technical assistance to individuals and entities. Applications are only accepted during specific times of the year when the program status is open.

How much funding has been available?

The amount of funding made available through the RCDG changes every year. Each year, Congress allocates a specific amount of funding for this grant, and in addition to these mandatory funding levels, there may also be discretionary funding issued each year. The application requires that 25% (5% for 1994 Institutions) of the project funds must be non-federal funds. Matching funds can be provided by either the applicant or a third party in the form of cash or an in-kind contribution. For FY 2018, total program funding is $5.8 million with a maximum grant amount of $200,000.



The USDA has announced approximately $5.8 million in available funding for FY 2016. To view a full list of awardees, visit here.


In 2015, the program funded 30 projects for a total award of $5.8 million in available funding. A full list of awardees can be found here.


For FY 2014, the USDA awarded $5.8 million in RCDG awards to 32 recipients. Click here for a list of those funded for 2014.


How can the funds be used?
Grant funds may be used to pay up to 75% (95% if the grantee is a 1994 Institution) of the cost of establishing and operating centers for rural cooperative development, including:

  • Applied research
  • Feasibility studies
  • Environmental studies
  • Collection, interpretation, and dissemination of principles, facts, technical knowledge, or other information
  • Providing loans and grants
  • Providing technical assistance, research services, and advisory services

Who can apply?
RCDGs are only available to nonprofit corporations or higher education institutions. Public bodies and individuals cannot apply for this program.

How are RCDG Applications Scored?
Eligible and complete applications will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • Administrative capabilities in support of Center activities, including the demonstration of a proven track record in carrying out activities in support of development assistance to cooperatively and mutually owned businesses.
  • Technical assistance and other services, including the applicant’s demonstrated expertise in providing technical assistance and accomplishing effective outcomes in rural areas to promote and assist the development of cooperatively and mutually-owned businesses.
  • Economic development, including the applicant’s demonstrated ability to facilitate, among other things, the establishment of cooperatives or mutually owned businesses, new cooperative approaches, and the retention of businesses.
  • Past experience in establishing legal business entities.
  • Networking, including demonstrated commitment to networking with other cooperative development centers and developing multi-organization and multi-state approaches to addressing economic development and cooperative needs of rural areas.
  • Commitment, including demonstrating the applicant’s commitment to providing technical assistance and other services to underserved and economically distressed areas in rural areas of the US.
  • Matching Funds.
  • Work Plan/Budget.
  • Qualifications of those Performing the Tasks.
  • Local and future support plans with other organizations in the proposed service area.
  • Note that some organizations that have never been awarded an RCDG grant may be awarded Administrator Discretionary Points based on the organization’s plan’s support of certain strategic investments.

For more information, visit the USDA’s website.