Rural towns map provided by the State Office of Rural Health (2017)

The State Office of Rural Health has announced a new opportunity for direct funding and support to rural communities for immediate COVID-19 mitigation as well as long-range strategies to help ensure resilience in the future.

Requests for proposals for the Rural Vaccine Equity Initiative are due Nov. 29 through an online portal. Funding is for three years, and up to $75,000 per year. The office expects to make about 15 awards.

The Office of Rural Health will use the RFPs to identify rural community-based organizations to coordinate with partners and engage the community in responding to immediate needs for COVID-19 mitigation, and work on longer-range strategies to ensure resilience from the factors that created poor outcomes during the pandemic.

Eligible applicants are rural nonprofit private or rural public entities and must be in a rural area as defined by the Office of Rural Health. Applicants will be expected to have multi-sector partnerships.

The state expects applicants to work with local partners on principles and practices of vaccine equity, which include assessment and planning, education and outreach, vaccine administration, stopping the spread, connecting residents to essential services, and strengthening community safety nets.

In the first phase of the initiative, recipients of the funding will be asked to focus on immediate needs surrounding COVID-19. This could include activities such as: building partnerships, assessment and planning, coordinating community education and outreach, disseminating information about clinics or other services, and working with the Department of Public Health to coordinate services.

In the second phase, funding recipients will be asked to identify projects that support resiliency and address the factors that created poor outcomes during the pandemic. This could include adapting or changing policies, creating a system to address a community need or gap, or increasing availability to a service such as transportation or food.

Until Nov. 19, applicants can submit questions to Click here for more information and the application packet.