Summit on Rural America: People Matter, Leadership Matters

Bernadine_InCommonsThis week it was my honor to participate in a “summit on Rural America” hosted by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. The goal was to get people “inside the beltway” to think about “rural as rich” – a place of resources and talent, where resourceful and self-reliant people on Main Street can make small investments go a long way. The critical need for all Americans to have affordable access to Broadband and the skills to use it was a big theme of the day. Here are my notes of highlights of the day.

  • Representative from the White House Council on Rural says: most important investment we (including fed government) can make to address persistent rural poverty is invest in kids.
  • Chuck Fluherty is talking about BB and “quality of place” as key to rural vitality.
  • Repeated calls for need for community leadership capacity building
  • Significant call to “place-based” philanthropy to partner and focus NOT necessarily on Economic Development (job creation ) directly but rather on developing human capacity.
  • Place-based philanthropy being called on to step into role of conveners and host conversations across community silos.
  • Fluherty also talking about the importance of inclusion and is endorsing collective impact model.
  • Recognition here that each rural community is unique and rural funding streams need maximum flexibility (not AS much true in urban spaces where you can count on a suite of institutions being in place)
  • Calls to think forward 7 generations
  • National foundations being called upon to spend more of their wealth on rural
  • “People matter. Leadership matters”
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About Bernadine Joselyn

Bernadine Joselyn is Director of Public Policy & Engagement at the Blandin Foundation. Based in Grand Rapids, MN, Blandin Foundation is a private independent foundation whose mission is to strengthen rural Minnesota communities, especially Grand Rapids.

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