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Eligible applicants include groups of cooperatives, cooperative development centers and individual cooperatives that serve socially-disadvantaged groups. The cooperatives or centers can be located in any area, but the groups assisted must be located in an eligible rural area. Also, the majority of the governing body of the organization must be compromised of individuals who are members of socially-disadvantaged groups. USDA Rural Development is encouraging applications for projects in census tracts with poverty rates of 20 percent or higher. All grants are awarded through a national competition. The program is making a difference in many rural areas. For example, in 2013, the Southern California Focus on Cooperation (SCFC) received a $200,000 Small, Socially-Disadvantaged Producer Grant to provide technical assistance to help 95 refugee immigrant and minority farmers improve their productive capacity, increase revenue, and strengthen their ability to govern and manage their cooperative businesses. Many of the farmers benefiting from the project had little or no access to formal schooling and had been persecuted and oppressed for years in their native land. The International Rescue Committee (IRC), in concert with SCFC, developed marketing channels including various farmers markets and restaurants where the refugee farmers could sell their produce. Farmers have learned how to manage these marketing channels themselves, without assistance from IRC, and have gained new clients. They have also increased the level of cooperation among Hispanic, Korean and African farmer groups. These groups are working toward merging their efforts to form a single cooperative. The technical assistance provided by SCFC has enabled these farmers to build skills that have truly been life changing.