The U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance will be selecting a new group of fellows to participate in a rural leadership program called Reaching Rural: Advancing Collaborative Solutions.

Program fellows will learn how to adopt bold solutions to the persistent challenge of substance use in rural communities. They’ll work closely with innovators who have established successful programs in other rural communities.

The program supports elected county leaders, county and tribal judges, law enforcement officers, prosecutors, public defenders, public health and behavioral health practitioners, emergency management professionals, reentry coordinators, and individuals working in community nonprofits.

The year-long program, which will kick off in February, will focus on creating engagement across rural communities and sectors. Participants will benefit from virtual and in-person learning opportunities, including coaching, skill-building workshops, and local and regional asset mapping. The program will demonstrate how diverse systems with different missions can engage with one another to more effectively serve justice-involved individuals with substance use or co-occurring disorders.

This is the second year for the fellowship and the first year that it will include a funding element.

After fellows complete the program’s first phase, they will be eligible to apply for implementation grants of up to $100,000, which can be used to launch projects they planned during their fellowships.

The 67 Reaching Rural fellows in the current year worked in 81 communities across 15 states.

“They not only learned about best practices in rural justice, but many also implemented those practices,” said Tara Kunkel, a program leader and founder of Rulo Strategies.

Project co-sponsors are the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the State Justice Institute. Rulo Strategies and the Institute for Intergovernmental Research support the initiative.

For more information, including the fellowship application, visit The application is due by Dec. 15.

An informational webinar will be held on Nov. 14. Selection notifications will be sent on Jan. 26, 2024.