The initiative, announced in December 2022, was established with $9.3 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The big-picture goals are to advance the land-grant mission of the university, support community-based projects, and create new partnerships to better meet the needs of rural communities. 

The university’s Wisconsin Rural Partnerships Institute is part of a broader $28 million USDA-funded Institute for Rural Partnerships, housed at UW–Madison, Auburn University and the University of Vermont. The institute aims to promote equitable, resilient, and prosperous food and agricultural systems and expanded opportunities for rural community development. It will also foster collaborations with community-based initiatives and local research, educational institutions and subject matter experts.

Projects that aim to support rural communities and tribal nations in Wisconsin have been selected to receive funding through the Wisconsin Rural Partnerships Institute at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.