UM Rural Institute Awarded $4.3M Grant for Research and Training Center

July 24, 2018

MISSOULA – The University of Montana Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities has earned a five-year, $4.3 million grant to support its Research and Training Center on Disability in Rural Communities.

The grant was awarded by the National Institute on Disability Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research, and will be led by Dr. Catherine Ipsen, the project’s principal investigator. The award continues 30 years of RTC:Rural research and training to improve the lives of rural people with disabilities.

Ipsen said strong collaborations with the disability community are the foundation of their work at RTC:Rural. These partnerships ensure that research findings are relevant to people with disabilities and fit within rural contexts. Health, community living and employment barriers often stem from limited resources in rural environments. To address these barriers, RTC:Rural projects will:

  • Create partnerships between rural hospitals and local agencies serving people with disabilities to increase the reach of RTC:Rural’s Living Well with a Disability health promotion program.
  • Build personal assistance service capacity for rural people with disabilities.
  • Assess accessible transportation options in rural communities to inform policy and service delivery decision-making.
  • Partner with tribal vocational rehabilitation agencies to create a tribal adaptation of RTC:Rural’s Vocational Rehabilitation Self-Employment Guide.
  • Conduct rural analyses of existing large data sets to inform advocates, service providers, researchers and policymakers about emerging trends, hypotheses and policy impacts.

Together, these projects contribute to expanded opportunities for people with disabilities to fully engage in their rural communities.

The mission of the Rural Institute is to enhance the quality of life for people with disabilities, including those living in Montana and other rural areas across the country. The Rural Institute is part of the national network of University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities. NIDILRR, the funding agent for this grant award, is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration on Community Living.

For more information on this project and others, visit or


Contact: Tracy Boehm Barrett, director of knowledge translation, UM Research and Training Center on Disability in Rural Communities, 406-243-5741,