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Texas nonprofit helps rural towns secure infrastructure improvement grants

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Roz Brown

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(Texas News Service) A lack of staff and know-how often means rural towns miss out on grants to improve their communities, and a Texas group is trying to balance the scales.

Billions of dollars will soon be flowing from the federal government to states for broadband, water and energy upgrades, transportation infrastructure and other projects. To help rural towns and nonprofits secure the money, Texas Rural Funders has stepped in.

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Kelty Garbee, executive director of the group, said their online grants hub includes a list of grants available to rural groups.

"I regularly receive calls saying, 'We need to upgrade our fire station or our school is looking for support for a particular project,'" Garbee explained. "It's very overwhelming to figure out where to find grants in the first place."

Garbee noted about 50 federal and state grant opportunities are listed on the website, along with grant writers who can be hired to assist rural governments or organizations with applications. She explained the Hub preselects grants for which they know rural areas are eligible.

She pointed out essential needs in small towns to often go unfunded because of limited tax revenues. She hopes resources on the hub's website will give small communities a leg up.

"Often in a rural community, one person has so many jobs," Garbee observed. "What we've done is vet the grant writers. They'll send in work samples of grants they've written so you can actually download this roster of grant writers."

Texas is expected to receive about $2.5 billion for water infrastructure through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. As the state with the largest rural population, it also will receive billions in federal dollars in broadband infrastructure grants.