It’s a critical time for rural America.

“Being from a rural place is something you can’t easily leave behind as an individual, and it’s not something we should do as a nation.”
– Allen Smart, PhilanthropywoRx

RDI holds the uncompromising belief that answers and priorities, driven by a diversity of local people and built from a community’s assets, are key to achieving rural community prosperity. We work alongside rural communities to build networks of rural leaders, revitalize rural economies, and elevate rural voices to create community vitality.

Issues of equity profoundly affect many Americans living in rural communities. RDI’s mission to build skills and connect people in rural feels like it has never been more critical than at this moment, as rural works to address impacts of political divisiveness, natural disasters, and a global pandemic. 

Rural runs on relationships.

People are the "glue" that holds rural communities together. Rural people rely on one another to get things done, and in small towns, maintaining collaborative relationships is especially vital. RDI understands what it means to create meaningful, trusted local relationships, network rural people and communities with each other, and build skills to help diverse rural leaders create the change they want to see for an improved quality of life.

Rural is resource-rich.

The nation relies on rural areas for food, water, clean energy, and recreation.

Rural is innovative.

Rural leaders find place-based solutions to large-scale problems.​

Rural America is not uniform.​

It is vast, varied, and increasingly diverse.

Rural communities are critical to the strength of the nation; we must make bold moves to shift our rural economy towards a collective, inclusive vision of the future. 

Foundation giving to rural areas is disproportionately low.

About 6% of philanthropic investment in the United States goes to rural areas, while rural makes up 19% of the U.S. population and 97% of land area.

25 million people in rural communities live below the poverty level.

78.9% of of high poverty counties in the U.S. are rural - a total of 524 counties.

Many rural areas struggle with limited infrastructure.

Access to broadband, healthcare, reliable utilities, emergency services, and adequate transportation can be limited in rural places, impacting quality of life in countless ways.

Inadequate childcare persists in many rural communities.

There are 6 infants and toddlers for every free childcare spot and 3 pre-school age children for every free childcare spot in rural Oregon.

RDI continually adapts our programming and services to meet the current needs of rural communities. To help increase foundation giving to rural places, we build the skills of rural nonprofit organizations to develop successful grant proposals. To help close the rural childcare gap, we provide childcare business training and offer small business grants to participants. 

RDI works toward a future where local rural people and community groups are at the center of their own development and success, carrying out their visions with the skills, resources, and support to work collectively to build equitable and sustainable communities and economies.

Learn more about RDI’s current programs and efforts here.