WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Nearly $6.7 million in USDA technical assistance grants is on its way to assist 31 nonprofit community-based development organizations and low-income communities or federally recognized tribes to improve their ability to develop rural housing, technology, economic development and community facilities in 20 states.

"These grants will provide rural community leaders with the additional resources they need to launch community improvements that will enhance rural life," said Chuck Conner, deputy secretary of agriculture. "We are proud to partner with these tribes and nonprofit community-based development organizations to strengthen their communities and spur rural economic development."

The technical assistance grant program was created by Congress in 2000 to assist in the development or increase the capacity of nonprofit organizations, low-income rural communities or federally recognized tribes to undertake projects in the areas of housing, community facilities, and community and economic development in rural areas.

In Wisconsin for example, Northwoods Niijii Enterprise Community Inc. will use $300,000 in grant funds to provide technical and financial assistance to three Native American Tribes and eight municipalities for capacity-building. This will assist in the successful achievement of the Tribal members' long-term plan for sustainable community development. Assistance will include Native financial literacy training, business and entrepreneurial training and technical assistance in grant writing.

In Kentucky, Christian Appalachian Project Inc. will use $300,000 to provide technical and financial assistance to 13 nonprofit organizations serving approximately 20 counties in the rural Appalachian areas of eastern Kentucky and western West Virginia. Assistance will be provided in areas of housing, job creation and job training to those in greatest need.

Recipients are required to obtain matching funds that will double the impact of the USDA grants. Funding of individual recipients will be contingent upon meeting the conditions of the grant agreement. A complete list of 2006 recipients can be found online.

USDA Rural Development's mission is to deliver programs in a way that will support increasing economic opportunity and improve the quality of life of rural residents. As a venture capital entity, Rural Development has invested more than $63 billion in the past five years to provide equity and technical assistance to finance and foster growth in homeownership, business development and critical community and technology infrastructure. Further information on rural programs is available at a local USDA Rural Development office or by visiting USDA's Web site.

SOURCE: USDA news release.