The Center for Rural Research & Development (CRRD) at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, Central Nebraska Community Services (CNCS), and Mid-Nebraska Community Action (MNCA) received a collaborative two-year Capacity Building Initiative grant through the Nebraska Department of Economic Development in 1998. The objective of this grant was to help towns in central Nebraska plan for community and economic development projects. CRRD conducted community needs assessment surveys in 22 central Nebraska communities and MNCA or CNCS provided follow-up assistance for a year.

The Capacity Building Initiative grant enabled significant community and economic investment.

* The communities generated $14,152,000 in grant and non-grant funds for community projects, including:
$3,509,000 CDBG funds
$3,220,000 USDA Rural Development grants and loans
$5,837,500 in locally raised funds, including:
$1,808,000 invested in projects already completed
$4,029,500 invested in projects currently in progress
$1,585,500 from other sources

* The grant enabled:
The rehabilitation of 110 homes
Down payment assistance funds for 22 first-time homebuyers
Building or renovating six community centers
Improvements in:
swimming pools, ballparks, camping areas and city parks in six towns
water systems in five towns
city buildings in three towns
downtown areas of three towns

* To date, citizens have volunteered over 18,600 hours of time and labor on 12 projects in nine communities; 11 of these projects used locally raised funds exclusively

* The communities were very satisfied with CRRD’s survey process and with the follow-up assistance received from Mid-Nebraska Community Action and Central Nebraska Community Services

* Eighteen of the 22 communities (82%) would look for outside assistance if they needed to conduct another community needs assessment in the future, but only 27% (6 of the 22 communities) felt they could afford a non-subsidized cost for the services