Strong Communities Award

Apply by August 27, 2021 for a chance to win $15,000!

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Every year the Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines highlights the leadership and work of our member financial institutions and their community partners by awarding the Strong Communities Award. In light of the far-reaching effects of COVID-19 on our communities, we are proud to offer the Strong Communities Award this year. The award recognizes collaboration and leadership in communities by measuring the results of these projects and their impact on creating stronger communities.

Two first place winners - one in the Rural category and one in the Urban category - will win $15,000. All runner-up finalists will receive $3,000.


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Click on the icon above to fill out a project application. Reference the FAQ's and past project examples below on this page to assist you with the application process.


Contact our Marketing Communications Department at

We have prepared FAQ's and project examples below on this page to provide further assistance.

What does the award measure?

The Strong Communities Award is not a grant program. Applications must be able demonstrate the impact, results and collaboration of a community small business or economic development effort



The project identified economic development needs of the community and provided a solution.



The project demonstrated specific economic development benefits to your community.



The project included financial or human contributions from an FHLB Des Moines member financial institution.

Strong Communities Award FAQ's

  • Is the award part of the FHLB Des Moines Affordable Housing Products?

    The Strong Communities Award is not part of the Bank's Affordable Housing Products (i.e. Competitive Affordable Housing Program, Home$tart, Native American Homeownership Initiative). For more information on these programs, please visit

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  • How does the award process work?

    The Strong Communities Award is divided into two categories, urban and rural. An FHLB Des Moines member must support the application and designate the appropriate category (click here to access the FHLB Des Moines membership directory).

    At the conclusion of the application period, a scoring committee comprised of FHLB Des Moines representatives will determine finalists for both the urban and rural categories. The finalists in both categories will enter the final selection stage, which includes a voting component that is open to the public. The selection committee will include the public vote as one of the components in the final selection of the winners for each category.

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  • Who can submit an application?

    Anyone can submit an award application as long as there is support from an FHLB Des Moines member financial institution (click here to access the FHLB Des Moines membership directory).

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  • What is the award timeline?

    A tentative timeline can be found below:

    • Applications are due on August 27, 2021 by 4:30 PM CST
    • Public voting period begins on October 4, 2021
    • Winners announced in October 2021
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  • Does my project qualify?

    A project will qualify for the Strong Communities Award if it supports small business and economic development growth in your community. You must be able to demonstrate measurable or anticipated impacts and results of the project.

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  • Is participation by an FHLB Des Moines member in a project required?

    It is not required that FHLB Des Moines members participate in the project but an FHLB Des Moines member must at least support the submission of the application.

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  • Are there restrictions on project location?

    The project must be located within the FHLB Des Moines district. Projects in Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming, as well as the U.S. Pacific territories of American Samoa, Guam and the Commenwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands are eligible for consideration.

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  • What criteria is used to determine if a project is urban or rural?

    Rural projects must meet the following criteria:

    The community that the project is located in must be eligible for the USDA Rural Development Business and Industry Loan program (Click here to access the USDA mapping tool - use the business services requirements as a reference)

    The FHLB Des Moines member and community partner(s) headquarters may be based within an urban area as long as the project is located in an eligible rural area.

    Projects that do not meet the USDA Rural Development loan criteria above must be submitted as an urban project.

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  • How can I strengthen my application?

    There are a number of ways you can strengthen your award application. A few recommendations include:

    1. Explain the need for the project and how it provided a solution.

    2. Clearly demonstrate the results or anticipated results of a project (ex. job, population, business and community growth) with supporting data or examples.

    3. If possible, describe how the project fits into your community or organization's economic development efforts. How does the project leverage previous work or support future plans? And what is the overall or anticipated impact of these broader efforts on your community?

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  • Is there a limit on the number of applications that can be submitted?

    There is no limit on the number of applications that can be submitted or supported by a community organization or FHLB Des Moines member.

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  • How does the voting process work?

    Finalists will participate in a five-day public voting period. Anyone is eligible to vote, though votes will be limited to one vote per day, per individual. FHLB Des Moines will develop content for the voting site and help finalists promote projects in their communities through the creation of press releases and other marketing materials, as requested. Links to the voting site will not be made available until the voting period begins.

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  • Will finalists receive promotional assistance?

    All finalists are eligible for a $200 cooperative advertising reimbursement on any marketing expenses related to the award. FHLB Des Moines will also assist in the creation of press releases and other promotional materials, as needed. For further information, please contact the Marketing Communications Department at

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  • What do the winning projects and finalists receive?

    Two winners, one urban and one rural, will each receive a $15,000 stipend to be used for the project or other community economic development needs. All runner-up finalists in each category will be awarded $3,000.

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  • If we win, are there restrictions on who the award can be made payable to?

    The award may only be payable to the project, non-profit or an economic development organization. Award payments cannot be made directly to FHLB Des Moines members.

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  • Are there other benefits of the award?

    In addition to the chance to win $15,000 for first place and $3,000 as a runner-up, the award provides an opportunity to highlight and recognize your successes, build community goodwill and support, and generate future momentum to expand your economic development efforts.

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