Giving Compass' Take:
- Caitlin Cain, vice president at the Local Initiatives Support Corp. (LISC) and director of Rural LISC, discusses the specific issues and opportunities in rural communities.
- How can donors tailor philanthropic responses to the needs of rural areas? How do these needs differ?
- Learn more about investing in rural America.
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Caitlin Cain is a vice president at the Local Initiatives Support Corp. (LISC) and director of Rural LISC, which provides a wide range of services, including financial support and technical assistance, to help developers and service partners address obstacles specific to rural communities.
She is helping LISC fulfill its Rural Promise, an aspiration to produce 20% of its overall community development impact in rural areas by 2023. Approximately 20% of the country’s population resides in rural America.
Before taking the lead at Rural LISC last year, Cain led her own New Orleans-based social investment firm. She’s also served as CEO of the World Trade Center of New Orleans.
What is often misunderstood about the needs and opportunities of rural communities?
Rural America is incredibly diverse demographically, culturally, and economically. I think we tend to view rural communities through a narrow lens—impairing our ability to fully appreciate the extent of innovation, entrepreneurship, and cultural richness that characterizes some small towns and rural/remote communities. Some rural areas are home to major employers and research centers, and/or serve as recreation and cultural meccas, while others struggle to retain population and workforce. Because of this diversity, there is no one-size-fits-all investment strategy for rural America. Solving for the complex needs of rural communities—housing, workforce development, infrastructure (including broadband), health care, access to capital—often requires regionalism and a willingness to explore and adopt unique public-private partnerships. Communities that are able to leverage these partnerships are often the ones with the greatest ability to maximize future opportunity.
Read the full article about rural development opportunities at LISC.