Skip Navigation


Business Regions Made in Kansas Our Department Publications Initiatives & Incentives Transparency Database About Us Notices Contact

Rural Champions

A network of devoted Rural Champions working to strengthen Kansas communities.

Developed by the Kansas Department of Commerce’s Office of Rural Prosperity (ORP), in collaboration with the Kansas Sampler Foundation (KSF) and the Patterson Family Foundation, this program will address critical public needs in rural communities and build capacity moving forward.

The Rural Champions program is designed to create a network of grassroots individuals who possess the necessary tools to resolve critical community needs in a quick and effective manner. These Rural Champions will receive strategic training, compensation, and will be connected with resources to assist them.

Moving the needle towards rural prosperity.

The need for the Rural Champions program was identified in the Power Up & Go report through surveys and interviews of more than 400 rural Kansans under the age of 40 as something that would “move the needle” toward success. Many of those individuals wanting to make a difference are volunteers who are passionate about their communities but unable to take on a community improvement project without receiving appropriate resources, training and compensation.

The Rural Champions program removes the funding gap for those passionate rural dwellers by connecting them with resources that will help them accomplish their critical community project.

The grant for wages of $20,800 will be reimbursed on a quarterly basis ($20/hr x 20 hrs/week = $5,200 quarterly), with an additional implementation grant of $25,000 to support the identified project.

Applications are now being accepted and will close until July 31st. Applicants that submit before June 30th can request review of the application. A webinar will be held to discuss the application, grant availability and eligibility, program process, as well as answer any questions on May 7th at 1:00 pm.

In many cases for rural communities, the lack of capacity in human capital prohibits critical needs from being addressed. The Rural Champions program has provided the support needed to fill the gap in driving successes throughout Kansas. The Rural Champions program is creating a network of grassroots champions tackling needs that have been identified by the communities themselves.

Program Information

Grant Details

The Rural Champions program will provide support needed to fill the gap in driving successes throughout Kansas when there is a lack of capital or the capacity of a dedicated individual to see a project through to completion.

Twelve champions, representing 12 communities, will be selected for this program and will receive a stipend to focus strategically on a critical need for their community from October 2024 – October 2025. Selected Champions will develop an implementation strategy for the identified community need in the first three months and then have the until December 2025 to fully implement this strategy. In this application you will describe the needs in your community and how having a Champion will benefit your community.

Grant amount:

The grant will be a stipend and will be based on $20/hour for 20 hours/week, approximately $20,800. A 25% match of cash &/or in-kind is required for $5,200. A cash match for additional hours is encouraged. The applicant organization is expected to provide a match through in-kind workspace, provided computer and technology access, travel reimbursements, etc. Stipends will be reimbursed quarterly, upon receipt of a quarterly payment and matching funds reports. In addition, each selected Champion will receive a $25,000 implementation grant that will be provided at the end of the year-long initiative.

Questions can be directed to Kerri Falletti at [email protected] or 785-207-5206.

Eligible applicants, in counties with population less than 40,000, include:

  • Division of local government
  • Economic/Community Development
  • Community Foundation
  • Local Chambers of Commerce or Tourism
  • Nonprofits (501(c)3 or 601(c)6)
  • Main Street organizations or Affiliates
  • Federally recognized tribal nations

Examples of eligible community projects include, but are not limited to:

  • Rural grocery/food access
  • Childcare
  • Placemaking/Beautification/Art
  • Trails/Recreation
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Co-Working/Maker space
  • Health/Wellness
  • Housing
  • Broadband
  • Regional talent recruitment

Learn more about 2023 Rural Champion Projects

The Rural Champion is someone identified and sponsored by a host organization in their community to take on a project that will have lasting impact. The selected twelve took on various projects that have been evidenced by need across the state. The processes that the Rural Champions utilized has been captured, creating additional roadmaps for change that other rural communities can then follow to do similar work.  A highlight of each of these projects can be found in the 2023 Rural Champion Project Guidebook. In the sections below you can read more information about each of the project.

Champions will continue to utilize the #ruralchampion social media campaign to highlight events and successes. Be sure to follow them and keep informed as projects continue to move forward.

Community Development
Placemaking & Recruitment

Sign up for the Office of Rural Prosperity Newsletter

By checking this box, I agree to receive notification from Kansas Department of Commerce.(Required)
Sets value of name of field.
Checkbox: ORP News
First Name & Last Name(Required)
Replaced with individual for mapping to Salesforce