Regions Bank

Working together, Fannie Mae, Regions, Rural Studio, and CAHFH are advancing a templated process by which these sweat equity contributions can be accurately monitored, recorded, and ultimately valued utilizing standards developed by both Volunteer Florida and HUD’s Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program (SHOP) guidelines for sweat equity credit. Additionally, both Rural Studio and CAHFH have been invited by Regions to AURS and Chipola Area Have been invited by Regions to provide a presentation and Q&A Case Study of Regions long-term work with AURS and emerging work with our expanding network of housing partners. The presentation will highlight Regions’ responsiveness and innovation relative to community development needs and opportunities in its assessment areas.

Regions Bank Website

National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL)

Rural Studio is an advisory board member for NREL’s “(IN2)” Innovation Incubator. (IN2) is a technology incubator funded by Wells Fargo and co-administered by NREL. (IN2) helps speed the path to market for early-stage clean energy and agriculture technologies by providing funding and technical assistance that leverages the capabilities, facilities, equipment, and deep expertise at NREL and the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center. The (IN2) External Advisory Board (EAB) consists of industry and academia experts on the built environment. The EAB plays a significant role in the Innovation Incubator (IN2) program, by providing perspective, insight, and expertise in sector trends, challenges and opportunities in the buildings space, and technical understanding around building technologies, both traditional and emerging, and ultimately determines the technologies that are accepted into the program. We continue to meet annually to select the each year’s cohort of participating companies, quarterly to review company progress, and as needed for company closeout and refinancing.

National Renewable Energy Lab Website

Florida Housing Coalition (FHC)

The relationship between FHC and AURS continues to grow as our two organizations continue to leverage each other’s resources. AURS and FHC have both been offering technical assistance to Franklin County Community Development & Land Trust Corporation (FCCD&LTC) on the development of a home in Carrabelle, Florida. This project has provided the opportunity to utilize a Rural Studio home within a Community Land Trust (CLT). While AURS has offered FCCD&LTC technical assistance relative to the design and construction of a home (see Task 1 for additional information), FHC has offered assistance around the development and implementation of the community land trust, including hosting training sessions on CLT ground leases and resale formulas.

FHC has also been instrumental in connecting AURS to opportunities with both housing providers and housing network organizations. For example, they have connected AURS with the City of Jacksonville and St. John’s Housing Partnership. Recently, AURS and FHC also shared information regarding the process for rapid implementation of housing post-disaster.

Recently, Gladys Cook (Director, FHC Disaster Housing Recovery and Resilience) responded to a request from the FEMA Regional Advisory Council (RAC) for Region 4 to share insight on the challenges faced in coastal communities to rapidly respond to weather-related disaster events. In this presentation Gladys shared Rural Studio’s work relative to Advanced Component Construction, and the possibilities for this strategy to be rapidly and successfully deployed as a disaster recovery response. This presentation has coalesced into the development of a future article to be published by FHC, with the goal of seeking sponsorship from FEMA to help accelerate research and development work in this area.

Florida Housing Coalition Website

Florida A&M University (FAMU)

Founded 1887, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) is a public, historically Black university (HBCU) located in Tallahassee, Florida. In Late 2021, Associate Dean of the School of Architecture + Engineering Technology (SAET) Professor Andrew Chin reached out to Rural Studio to discuss opportunities for collaboration in the Florida panhandle. In the first quarter of 2022 Rural Studio and FAMU faculty have engaged in several meetings and presentations to explore these opportunities. Currently we see two possible areas of overlap: 1) SAET is interested in exploring the possibility of developing a design-build component into their curriculum. This could possibly provide a pathway for SAET to actualize the strategic planning work they have developed for underserved communities in the panhandle (like North Port St. Joe), and 2) FAMU/SAET faculty could provide additional human resources in support of Rural Studio’s growing number of housing partnerships in the north Florida region.

FAMU Website

Eastern Eight Community Development Center

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Case Study: Unaka

Eastern Eight CDC Website

Chipola Area Habitat for Humanity

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Case Study: Chipola

Chipola Area HFH Website

Fannie Mae

Fannie Mae is supporting the work of the Rural Studio Front Porch Initiative to increase the inventory of titled, real property single-family home solutions targeted both at the needs and challenges relative to substandard housing found in persistently impoverished rural communities, as well as in areas facing a short supply of workforce housing.

Fannie Mae Website


In 2020 Rural Studio participated with Fahe and RCAC in the development of a proposal for Enterprise Community Partners’ “Housing Affordability Breakthrough Challenge.” The proposal focused on public-private partnerships working together to harness the power of USDA 502 Direct Loans to advance equity & social justice in low-wealth communities of color in rural persistent poverty areas. This challenge was sponsored by Wells Fargo. While our proposal made it to the final round, it was not one of the two proposals that were ultimately selected for funding under this initiative. Afterwards however, Wells Fargo reached out to Fahe and has elected to support the initiative directly. This grant will support Fahe’s efforts to grow the capacity & connectivity of community-based housing nonprofits through training, certification & opportunities to grow their mortgage delivery capacity. Where appropriate, Rural Studio will work with these housing partners to provide the technical assistance to deliver high-performing, energy efficient, durable, & healthy homes.

Fahe Website

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Rural Studio is a new program Partner in the EPA’s “College/Underserved Community Partnership Program” (CUPP). This program was created in 2011 to provide a creative approach to partnering and delivering technical assistance to underserved communities. The program enlists colleges and universities to assist these communities through student internships, practicums, and capstone projects. The program has engaged with over 90 academic institutions and facilitated over 120 partnership projects with more than 70 communities and academic institutions. As of January 2021, the value of services provided to underserved communities is over $45,000,000. This new relationship has already provided a number of introductions to EPA regional and national leadership and should lead to project support for our work on the ground in West Alabama, particularly in the areas of healthy housing, indoor air quality, and clean water.

EPA Website

DOE Better Building Workforce Accelerator

Rural Studio is a founding member of the U.S. Department of Energy’s “Better Buildings Workforce Accelerator.” The Better Buildings Initiative calls on private, public, and non-profit organizations across all sectors to make substantial commitments to demonstrate specific innovative polices and approaches, which upon successful demonstration will accelerate investment in energy efficiency across our homes, buildings, and industrial facilities. Workforce development is one of the key pillars of Better Buildings. By tackling these issues through cross-sector collaboration between national organizations, federal agencies, and regional, state, and local leaders in building industries, the Better Buildings Workforce Accelerator is designed to increase the quantity, quality, diversity, and productivity of today’s building energy efficiency workforce. Members meet quarterly and share progress on our workforce development activities.

DOE Better Building Workforce Accelerator Website