Author: Aspen Institute Staff     Published: 8/25/22      CSG

We know that access to affordable capital and credit is an integral part of growing rural prosperity – but what are some of the major capital and credit trends right now for rural practitioners?

Following a related Field Perspective brief, 50 rural community practitioners and allies recently gathered to share how they think and act on this question.

We curated participants’ four big learnings (and related resources) into a short blog. Themes include:

  1. Learning to Overcome Barriers to Access
  2. Learning to Face the Challenge of Closure and Consolidation
  3. Learning to Make Equitable Rural Investments
  4. Learning how Philanthropy Can Help Right-Size Investments for Rural

We may not have all the answers, but together, we are learning strategies to overcome financial challenges and how to make better investments to help rural communities and Native nations thrive.


RCED Subcommittee Announced

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced the 12 members of the newly established Equity Commission Subcommittee on Rural Community Economic Development (RCED). RCED Subcommittee members include representatives of community-based organizations, lending institutions, small business or cooperatives, and tribal entities.

In addition to their future work as members of RCED, many of these folks are close partners and have regularly engaged in Aspen CSG’s Thrive Rural national engagements and advocacy over the past few years. Some serve on the Thrive Rural Action Roundtable on Equity, in the Reimagining Rural Assistance Network, or have been participants in the Rural Opportunity and Development sessions. Aspen CSG offers a hearty congratulations to all of these rural development action heroes and we wish them the best! 

The new RCED subcommittee members are:

  • Cheryal Hills, Minnesota
  • David Carrasquillo-Medrano, Puerto Rico
  • Calvin Allen, North Carolina
  • Lakota Vogel, South Dakota
  • Valerie Beel, Nebraska
  • LaTonya Keaton, Illinois
  • Doug O’Brien, Maryland/Washington, DC
  • Curtis Wynn, Florida
  • Terry Rambler, Arizona
  • Larry Holland, Mississippi
  • Nils Christoffersen, Oregon
  • Shonterria Charleston, Georgia

Updates from Partners

Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP)

RCAP just introduced Olga Morales-Pate as the new Chief Executive Officer starting this October. She has been Assistant Director of Community and Environmental Programs at RCAC since 2018 where she developed and led RCAC’s Regionalization Program and authored legislation that established the New Mexico Colonias Infrastructure Fund. She also served on the EPA’s National Drinking Water Advisory Council (NDWAC). We are pleased to congratulate Olga and look forward to continuing working with RCAP!

RCAP is hosting a series of trainings for rural entrepreneur ecosystem builders on how to conduct federal advocacy and shape policy to better our communities.

Center on Rural Innovation (CORI)

  • CORI is hiring a Senior Researcher. The Senior Researcher will participate in the preparation and implementation of project reports and lead complex team efforts, including data scientists and developers supporting the work. View the position here.
  • CORI recently launched the Rural Aperture Project, which uses data to shift the national conversation about racial and economic equity in rural places. The project features four stories grounded in accessible data, graphics, and narratives. Read the first story here.

Measure Up: Increasing Rural Place, Race, and Class-based Participation 

Dismantling discriminatory practices based on place, race, and class is a foundational element of all our work. Policymakers and investors should compare the profiles of initiatives they support to the ones they miss and reach out to “unreached rural” communities.

One guiding principle highlighted in Measure Up: Call to Action is to measure decreases in place, race, and class divides and increases in participation and decision-making as inherent elements of increasing rural prosperity.

This calls for rural communities and organizations to include rural leaders, rural low-wealth people and communities, and rural Black, Native, Hispanic, and immigrant people in the decision-making process.

Jennie Stephens, executive director of the Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation, shares, “Forestry is a $21 billion industry in South Carolina, but there are very few people of color that are either working or connected to the industry… And so the ability to create a system so that people of color would learn about forestry, know the resources, know that there was a forestry association, or know that there were funds available from USDA, increased the number of local people of color who are now engaging in forestry enterprises.”

Measuring the increase in access and influence in systems that generate wealth and prosperity is as important as measuring any resulting wealth itself.

Recommendations for government, philanthropy, and rural practitioners:

Read the Measure Up: Call to Action Executive Summary

Tools and Resources for the Field

Updated weekly: See our federal resource page for a list of federal opportunities for rural people and places.

  • October 25 & 28 deadlines: USDA announced up to $550 million in American Rescue Plan funding for projects benefiting underserved producers and minority serving institutions that create career development opportunities for the next generation of leaders.
  • October 31 deadline: USDA RD Rural Energy for America Program provides guaranteed loan financing and grant funding to agricultural producers and rural small businesses. Agricultural producers may also apply for new energy efficient equipment and new system loans for agricultural production and processing.
  • USDA RD Rural Energy Savings Program: Loans to rural utilities and other companies who provide energy efficiency loans to qualified consumers to implement durable cost-effective energy efficiency measures.

  • DOE Weatherization Assistance Program: This program reduces energy costs for low-income households by increasing the energy efficiency of their homes, while ensuring their health and safety.


The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA)

What is the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA)?

The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), enacted in 1977, requires the Federal Reserve and other federal banking regulators to encourage financial institutions to help meet the credit needs of the communities in which they do business, including low- and moderate-income (LMI) neighborhoods.

Banking Regulators for the CRA

Three federal banking agencies, or regulators, are responsible for the CRA. Banks that have CRA obligations are supervised by one of these three regulators. Each regulator has a dedicated CRA site that provides information about the banks they oversee and those banks’ CRA ratings and Performance Evaluations.

  • Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)
  • Federal Reserve Board (FRB)
  • Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC)

Federal Reserve’s Role

The Federal Reserve supervises state member banks–or, state-chartered banks that have applied for and been accepted to be part of the Federal Reserve System–for CRA compliance.

To carry out its role, the Federal Reserve

Contact Us

To send a comment about the CRA website, please fill out our feedback form. To ensure that your question is properly routed, please select the Community Reinvestment Act from the “Staff Group” dropdown menu.




Since 1985, the Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group (CSG) has been committed to equitable rural prosperity.

We work towards a future with thriving, prosperous rural communities and Native nations where each and every person belongs, lives with dignity, and thrives.

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