Friday, November 22, 2019

Report identifies 'hubs’ that effectively strengthen rural communities, gives tips and examples for others

With the needs of rural America increasingly in the news since the 2016 election, many philanthropists, nonprofits, government leaders, and investors have gotten more interested in how they can help address systemic issues in rural areas. A new report from The Aspen Institute's Community Strategies Group aims to give such people practical information and data about rural America along with examples of intermediaries they've dubbed Rural Development Hubs: place-based organizations that are already working to improve rural prosperity and well-being by harnessing both local and outside resources.

"Hubs focus on all the critical ingredients in a region’s system that either advance or impede prosperity — the integrated range of social, economic, health and environmental conditions needed for people and places to thrive," the report says. Here's what sets hubs apart from other organizations; hubs:
  • have a regional mindset and pursue regional action.
  • help bring together people in the region in a way that local government often can't.
  • are rooted in the region, know the region, and are widely and deeply trusted in the region.
  • take a long-term view, understanding that many goals may take decades to achieve.
  • address multiple causes of challenges.
  • look beyond funding and other limitations to look broadly at their regional responsibilities. 
  • collaborate and network with other systems, governments, organizations and people.
  • create structures, products and tools that foster collaboration.
  • translate, span and integrate action between local and national actors.
  • innovate and change to become what they need to be to get the job done.
  • take and tolerate risk.
  • hold themselves accountable to the whole community.
The report identified 43 hubs around the country and details what many are doing to create change in their communities, along with a crash-course in rural policy history.

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