Rural Innovations Program

Man and woman talking


Proactive, innovative approaches to improving care for rural patients are imperative in the dynamic, ever-changing healthcare landscape. Our Rural Innovations Cooperative Agreement program solicits and supports programs and strategies that address unmet needs to improve rural health.

Program Overview

The South Carolina Center for Rural and Primary Healthcare supports and manages the competitive Rural Innovations Cooperative Agreement Program. The program identifies and supports innovative programs or strategies that address unmet needs or support efforts to improve rural health. Awarded projects focus on supporting health in rural communities through improving access to healthcare services; enhancing the health professions workforce; implementing services/programs that promote improved health outcomes for rural patients and residents; or integrating health care and community-based programs.

Rural South Carolinians are disproportionately affected by poorer health outcomes than residents in urban areas.  In response, the Rural Innovations Cooperative Agreement program provides resources and support to local organizations throughout South Carolina to tackle rural health problems at the community-level.  And more broadly, the program is dedicated to investing in innovative solutions and best practices that can be spread and adopted by other rural communities and inform public policy.

Since 2018, the Rural Innovations Cooperative Agreements program has reviewed over 50 applications and 40 full proposals from community leaders, researchers, and health providers throughout the state. Within 3 years, this program has supported 20 innovative projects and invested over $2.4 Million to improving South Carolina's rural health.

The Rural Innovations program currently has 12 active projects that serve 23 counties throughout the state


You can learn more about all of our active funded projects, including innovations, in our 2023 Learning Collaborative Meeting booklet!

Program Application Information

The Rural Innovations Application is a two-step process. The first step is a Letter of Intent (LOI) to ensure eligibility and that objectives and activities would align with CRPH’s mission and guidelines. Selected applicants will be advanced to step two and invited to submit a full proposal.

Spring 2023 Applications are now closed

Important Dates


RFA Released: February 1, 2023
LOI Due: March 13, 2023 at 5:00pm
Full Application Due: April 28, 2023 at 5:00pm
Project Start Date: July 1, 2023
  • Any public institution of higher education in South Carolina
  • South Carolina Rural Health Networks
  • SC AccessHealth programs
  • Public or not-for-profit (501(c)3) organizations with an emphasis on health, rural health, or community services
  • State government agencies
  • Category I: Planning Projects.  These projects would be smaller in scope and would support planning efforts and begin the process of implementing an innovation.  Projects under category I would be limited to 12-months and up to $50,000 in total cost (Direct Costs only).
  • Category II: Intermediate projects.  These projects would fall between the planning and implementation categories.  Such projects have matured past the planning stage but are not quite ready for full implementation.  These could include pilot programs.  Projects under category II would be limited to 12-month and up to $100,000 in total cost (Direct Costs only).  Based on project performance, these projects can be fast-tracked into an implementation award the subsequent year.
  •  Category III: Implementation Projects.  These projects could implement a program that is well designed but not yet realized.  These could include expanding a current program in new areas or adapting a program in new topic areas or locations.  Projects under category II would be limited to 24-months and up to $200,000 in total cost (Direct Costs only).

What we fund: We aim to fund programs that utilize innovative solutions or best practices to improve health access and/or health outcomes for rural communities, patients, or populations.  We fund direct costs only. 

We do not fund:

  • Projects centered on one-touch events (health fairs, conferences, etc.)
  • Programs or activities that target any non-rural populations
  • Capital funds or funds being raised for new buildings or building improvements or equipment such as medical
  • Salaries for personnel not directly involved with the project

Past Award Recipients

The South Carolina Center for Rural and Primary Healthcare (CRPH) announces awards to five projects for the 2021 Rural Innovations Cooperative Agreement Program. The Center supports and manages the competitive program, which identifies and supports projects that address unmet needs or efforts to improve health in rural communities. More broadly, the program is dedicated to investing in innovative solutions and best practices that can be spread and adopted by other rural communities and inform public policy. Awarded projects focus on improving access to healthcare services; enhancing the health professions workforce; implementing services/programs that promote improved health outcomes for rural patients and residents; or integrating health care and community-based programs.  

2021 Planning

Project PI Description
AccessHealth SC Rural Expansion Cyndi New - South Carolina Hospital Association Define alignment opportunities for access to care, prevention, and chronic care through data and market analysis, with the development of a Business Plan to serve as a guide for increasing or spreading sustainable AHSC network models across SC best suited for a particular community, county, or region.
Communities Accessing Resources and Education for Success( CARES) Doug Taylor - Fact Forward CARES will equip Darlington County First Steps’ Community Health Manager to use technology-based, proven resources to identify needs and increase access to sexual and reproductive health care services for adolescents ages 15-24
Mobile Services Clinic (MSC) for Individuals with Disabilities Sarah Pope - SOS Care Inc.  In order to address the needs of individuals with disabilities in the rural Waccamaw, the project team will develop a plan that specifies the features of a Mobile Clinic, and its priority service offerings, through study, collaboration and pilot programming




2021 Implementation

Project PI Description
A Novel approach for rural interdisciplinary care coordination of uninsured South Carolinians with opioid use disorder and/or co-occurring Hepatitis-C Virus

Caitlin Kickham - Clemson University

Increase access to care for rural and uninsured populations with OUD and/or HCV in  SC Upstate and Midlands through new partnerships, recruiting patients, and strengthening community partner referral linkages to improve care coordination. 
Infant Mental Health Rural Workforce Training & Support Initiative Kerrie Schnake - South Carolina Infant Mental Health Association Expand the Safe Babies Court model into Orangeburg and Bamberg counties and implement Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health to support children and families with targeted and timely services to ensure adults feel valued as individuals while they learn how to support the healthy development of their children. 


The Rural Innovations Cooperative Agreement program has served as a launchpad for innovative projects in rural areas for three years. This year the Center awarded six novel projects geared toward transforming health outcomes in rural communities.

2020 Planning

Project PI Description
Improving Access to Immunizations in Undeserved Rural South Carolina
Drs. Tessa  Hasting and Bryan Love - UofSC College of Pharmacy Aims to increase trained students to improve competency and expand the role of clinical pharmacists for rural communities as well as increase the amount of pharmacists in rural areas in order to decrease immunization deserts in South Carolina.
Community Health Worker Integration in Rural Health Clinics Julie Smithwick - Center for Community Health Alignment Exploring a sustainable and replicable Primary Care CHW Model by engaging MCOs and FQHCs









2020 Intermediate

Project PI Description
AnMed Neighborhood-based Community Health Workers Michael Cunningham - AnMed Health Foundation Hiring community health workers to assist patients in the community setting in rural Anderson South Carolina.
Family Engagement in School Mental Health Services Dr. Elizabeth Crouch -  UofSC Rural and Minority Health Center Evaluates the effectiveness and feasibility of the implementation of family engagement strategies to complement school mental health services in eight rural SC elementary schools.
Wellness for Rural Reentry: Rural Provider Toolkit & Self-Management for Women Dana DeHart - UofSC College of Social Work Assess needs and conduct analyses to create draft recommendations for practice and policy with a focus on rural prisoners reentering the population.


2020 Implementation

Project PI Description
Pharmacy Advancement In Rural Experiential Development to Expand,
Collaboration, Entrepreneurship and Leadership in Rural Communities
(PAIRED to ExCEL in Rural Communities)

Whitney Maxwell 
PharmD, MBA, BCPS - UofSC College of Pharmacy

Provides interactive didactic and experiential opportunities across the third and fourth year of the pharmacy curriculum as
well as equips pharmacy students to become healthcare providers to ensure better health outcomes in rural communities.
Community Health Workers in two Rural Practices Karen Nichols - Upper Midlands Rural Health Network Community Health Worker will assist patients at two clinics in Chester SC to integrate health care and community programs in order to improve health, access, and delivery .


2019 Planning

Project PI Description

Developing a Plan for a Community Health Worker in a Rural Setting

Karen Nichols - Upper Midlands Rural Health Network

Develop a comprehensive plan to implement Community Health Worker program and integrating the model into practice and health delivery teams.

Increasing HIV Screening and Linkage to Care (for HIV PrEP or HIV treatment)

Kamla Sanasi-Bhola, MD - UofSC School of Medicine Internal Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases

Partner with an emergency department and community providers to build their capacity to screen for HIV and provider linkage to care for HIV treatment or HIV prevention








2019 Intermediate

Project PI Description

Health Education and Active Living (HEAL)

Dawn Pender -
SC Center for Fathers and Families

Strengthens the Man 2 Man fatherhood initiative health component and to health outcomes and lifestyle choices of low-income
noncustodial fathers and their children by providing health services and education in Marlboro and Darlington counties.

Wellness for Rural Reentry: Rural Provider Toolkit & Self-Management for Women

Dana DeHart, PhD - UofSC College of Social Work Assess needs and conduct analyses to create draft recommendations for practice and policy with a focus on rural prisoners reentering the population.

Healthy Tri-County Diabetes Prevention Program Expansion Project (DPPEP)

Trident United Way Increases education, raises awareness, and reduces rates of prediabetes, and type 2 diabetes as well as supports the expansion of The National Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) in Berkeley, Charleston, and Dorchester Counties.












2019 Implementation

Project PI Description
Evidence Based Cancer Screenings in Rural Health Communities Jan M. Eberth, PhD - Rural and Minority Health Research Center

Adapts and implements “whole office” training and related interventions to enhance uptake of evidence-based cancer screening practices in rural health communities in South Carolina based off an environmental scan related to colorectal and
cervical cancer screenings in rural health communities.

Oconee Collaborative Care Behavioral Health Model

Aaron Zeller MD -Center for Family Medicine-Oconee

Increases access to behavioral health care in a rural community through implementation of a behavioral health collaborative care model in a new family medicine residency teaching clinic in Oconee County, South Carolina.

2018 Planning

Project PI Description

HIV PrEP Implementation Toolkit

Kamla Sanasi-Bhola, MD and Sharon Weissman, MD - UofSC School of Medicine Internal Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases

Offer support and resources to rural primary care providers of patients with high incidence of HIV to initiate a PrEP clinic.

Medically Supervised Weight Management Program

Charles McElmurray, MD and Robert Valois, MD - John A. Martin Primary Healthcare Center Develop and administer a medically supervised weight-loss program.

Working for a Healthier Chesterfield & The Chesterfield Equity Project

Margaret Plettinger Mitchell - Chesterfield County Coordinating Council Support local employers in implementing evidence-based strategies to improve health and wellness in the workplace. Collective learning about the meaning of health equity and identifying health disparities in Chesterfield County.













2018 Implementation

Project PI Description
Improving South Carolina Rural Health Workforce Recruitment and Retention Terri Browne, PhD, MSW - UofSC College of Social Work Provide inter-professional training to increase behavioral practice in rural settings.
Pharmacy Advancement in Rural Experiential Development with the Palmetto Experiential Education Partnership  Whitney Maxwell - UofSC Carolina College of Pharmacy Increase pharmacy student training opportunities in rural areas through site and preceptor development.
Rural Primary Care Resident Procedural Training Initiative Gerard Jebaily, MD - McLeod Family Medicine Residency Program Leverage medical technology and simulation training to improve rural primary care procedure training and stimulate medical student interest in rural practice.