Rural Leadership Programs Facilitate Sustainable Change

Across the landscape of rural philanthropy, community development is consistently the underlying theme for nearly all initiatives, and its driving force is effective leadership. The national Rural Philanthropic Analysis (RPA) project at Campbell University investigated foundation-supported programs that focus on bolstering leadership in rural areas to add to the conversation surrounding rural philanthropic strategy. As part of the project, the team compiled a list of ten foundation-supported rural leadership programs, and included RDI’s Rural Community Leadership Program as a key example of a framework that has an implementation model that can be adapted to individual communities’ needs. Through partnerships between RDI and community foundations, rural leadership programs are delivered and applied to specific areas in rural Oregon and Washington state. These partnerships include The Ford Family Foundation, Sherwood Trust, Yakima Valley Community Foundation, the Medina Foundation, Community Foundation for Southwest Washington, Innovia Foundation, Empire Health Foundation, Avista Foundation, and others.
The study found graduates of the examined programs are active in community projects and assume positions of responsibility in community institutions, and youth-focused leadership development empowers the next generation to drive change within their communities. Overall, the long duration of programs, participation of multiple cohorts over time, and graduates’ involvement in community projects point to the outcome of creating life-long community leaders. By supporting a community’s leadership backbone, foundations can effectively facilitate sustainable change in rural areas.
Click here to read more from the blog post on the Campbell University website.