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


  • Programs in Colorado, Hawaii, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wyoming may apply
  • The applicant community must have a population of 10,000 or fewer and must be able to demonstrate the 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.
  • 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.  Capital campaigns will not be supported.  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, not both.


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


  • Capital Expenses
  • General Operating Support
  • Ongoing Program Support


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


Proposals will be accepted starting October 6, 2015 and must be submitted online by November 6, 2015. Funding decisions will be announced by February 2016.

Please construct your application with the following attachments (see below for inclusions). We suggest you read through the inclusions prior to going online. 

To apply please click here.

  1. Proposal Narrative (please limit your narrative to a total of 5 pages)
  2. Personnel Lists
  3. Budgets (as listed below)
  4. Letters of Support
  5. IRS Status Letter or Local Unit of Government Letter


 Proposal Narrative (5 pages or less):.

  1. SUMMARY: Provide a three sentence summary of your project .
  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 MEMBERS AND INSTITUTIONS: Describe the community members involved in this project;  indicate how many have already announced support for the project.
  7. PROJECT LEADERS: Identify the leaders of the project and any special skills they bring to the project.
  8. PROCESS: Describe the process you will use to implement your project.  Please be specific about the role of the community and the methods you will use to facilitate and encourage broad community participation.
  9. COMMUNITY IMPACT: Describe the impact the project will have on your community and how it strengthens your community.
  10. OUTCOMES: List the expected outcomes and specifically how these outcomes will be measured.

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 include them in your proposal.

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, including their affiliations and their terms.  


  • Organizational budgets (or if public entity, departmental budgets) - for the previous year, and for the current year. For the previous year, please submit your actual expenses and revenue detail. For the current year, please submit a year-to-date budget-to-actual statement that includes expense and revenue detail, revenue sources, amounts, and what is secured and what is pending.
  • Project budget - please include expense and revenue detail, also include revenue sources, amounts, and what is secured and what is pending. 

Letters of Support:

  • Please include letters of support from at least two (but not more than four) community members and institutions involved in your proposed project. In addition, 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.

IRS Status or Local Unit of Government Letter:

  • Please include a copy of your 501(c)(3) letter. If you are a unit of government, please send a detailed letter of endorsement for the project on agency letterhead signed by the head of the department or agency.