Rural Initiative Program

THE LAURA JANE MUSSER FUND wants to encourage collaborative and participatory efforts among citizens in rural communities that will help to strengthen their towns and regions in a number of civic areas including, but not limited to, economic development, business preservation, arts and humanities, public space improvements, and education.


  • Bring together a broad range of community members and institutions
  • Provide the opportunity for diverse community members to work together
  • Contain measurable short-term outcomes within the first 12 to 18 months
  • Include community members actively in all phases of the process 
  • Work toward an outcome of positive change within their community


  • Support from a diverse cross-section of community members and institutions
  • Matching financial and/or in-kind support from the local community
  • Significant volunteer participation
  • Reasonable plans to complete the project within 18 months or less


  • Only programs in Colorado, Hawaii, Minnesota, Wyoming, and limited counties in Texas may apply. Eligible counties in Texas are located in the Rio Grande River Valley (Cameron, Hidalgo, Starr, and Willacy counties), Deep East Texas (Angelina, Houston, Jasper, Nacogdoches, Newton, Polk, Sabine, San Augustine, San Jacinto, Shelby, Trinity, and Tyler counties), and the Brazos Valley (Brazos, Burleson, Grimes, Leon, Madison, Robertson, and Washington counties).
  • The applicant community must have a population of 10,000 or less and must be able to demonstrate rural characteristics of their location


  • Planning (up to $5,000) - These funds may support costs like: consultant or staff time, meeting costs, mailings, secretarial support, refreshments, local travel, childcare, etc.   Note - this stage is optional and not a required phase prior to applying for or receiving an implementation grant. If an organization receives a planning grant from the Musser Fund, this in no way implies a commitment on the part of the Musser Fund to provide the organization with any subsequent implementation grant. But organizations that receive a planning grant may apply for subsequent implementation support after their planning activities are completed.      
  • Implementation (Up to $25,000) - These funds are available to implement community based rural projects that originate in, have been planned by, and involve diverse people from the local community. The projects should result in a tangible outcome within at least the first 18 months.

Projects will be eligible for either planning or implementation funds during any one grant period.


  • New programs or projects within their first three years
  • A planning or implementation phase


  • Capital campaigns and large capital expenses
  • General operating support
  • Ongoing program support
  • Advocacy


  • Nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations
  • Local units of Government 




Proposals will be accepted starting September 1, 2020 and must be submitted online by October 1, 2020. Funding decisions will be announced by February 2021.

Please construct your application carefully. We suggest you read through the questions and inclusions below PRIOR to beginning your online application.

The Laura Jane Musser Fund requires all of its grantees to provide evidence, through current policies or acknowledgement, of their anti-discrimination policies or practices. 

To apply please click here.


  1. SUMMARY: Provide a summary of your project in no more than three sentences.
  2. BACKGROUND: Summarize your organizational background and the history of your involvement in the community.
  3. RURAL IDENTITY: Describe, using qualitative and quantitative descriptions, the rural identity of your community.
  4. RURAL NEED: Provide a synopsis of the need or situation in your community that the proposed project will address.
  5. GOALS AND ACTIVITIES: Describe the overall goals of this project and the activities planned that will accomplish these goals; provide the timeline for the activities that includes schedule and completion date for the project.  Please note that projects funded with implementation grants must be completed within at least 18 months.
  6. COMMUNITY SUPPORT: Describe the community members involved in this project; indicate specifically how the community will provide matching support and volunteer involvment.
  7. PROJECT LEADERS: Identify the leaders of the project and any special skills they bring to the project.
  8. COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Describe the process you will use to keep your community engaged in the planning and/or implementation of your project. Please be specific about the role of the community and the methods you will use to facilitate and encourage active, broad, and diverse community participation.
  9. COMMUNITY IMPACT: Describe the impact the project will have on your community and how it will strengthen your community.
  10. OUTCOMES: List the expected outcomes and specifically how these outcomes will be measured.
  11. PROJECT REPLICABILITY: The Directors of the Laura Jane Musser Fund continue to be interested in the replicability of projects requesting funding. If you have plans to share your project results, please describe those plans.
  12. PREVIOUS GRANT UPDATE (if applicable): Provide a brief update on the Musser grant if one was made to your organization in the last year.
  13. ANTI-DISCRIMINATION: Indicate whether your organization has anti-discrimination practices or policies and provide a description of any diversity component of the proposed project or program.


Personnel Lists:

  • Staff - Please include a staff list identifying the organization's leaders and the experience they bring to the organization.
  • Board of Directors - Please include a list of the Board of Directors, their affiliations and their terms.  

Letters of Support:

  • Please include letters of support from at least two (but not more than four) community members and institutions outlining their support for, knowledge of, and role in your project. These letters should not be from individuals who are paid or unpaid staff, contractors, or Board members of the organization.
  • In addition to the letters of support from the community, please provide a letter of support from the local government entity that is most closely involved in your project.
  • Please ensure that the letters are signed and, when appropriate, on letterhead. Only letters submitted as part of the proposal will be considered in the review of your proposal.


  • Organizational budgets - For the previous year and for the current year. For the previous year, please submit your actual budget expense and revenue detail. For the current year, please submit a projected, board approved organizational budget that includes expense and revenue detail, revenue sources, and amounts. If your organization is a very large institution, you may submit departmental information instead.
  • Project budget - Please provide a complete budget for your proposed project, including expense and revenue detail, also include revenue sources, amounts, and what is secured and what is pending. 
  • Balance sheet - Please provide your organization's balance sheet from the most recent completed year. If your organization does not create a balance sheet, please upload your organization's most recent 990 tax form.

Anti-discrimination Policy:

  • If your organization has a written anti-discrimination policy, please provide it.

IRS Status or Local Unit of Government Letter:

  • Please include a copy of your 501(c)(3) letter or, if you are a unit of local government, please provide a detailed letter of endorsement for the project on agency letterhead, signed by the lead officer of your unit of government, indicating awareness of and support for this proposed program.