Philanthropists who want to help rural communities thrive need to get out from behind their desks and out into community, according to three executives of foundations that focus on rural projects.
Dr. Ned Calonge, president and CEO of The Colorado Trust; Anne Kubisch, president and CEO of the Ford Family Foundation in Oregon; and Elena Marks, president and CEO of Episcopal Health Foundation in Houston shared their views during a May 21 panel discussion in an event running up to the National Rural Assembly in Durham, North Carolina. During the pre-conference session each panelist described his or her approach to investing in rural communities. They concentrated on building relationships and allowing residents to set the pace and the focus of change.
The Colorado Trust was created in 1985 from the sale of a public healthcare corporation to a private company and now serves the entire state of Colorado. It focuses on health and wellness. For years, it operated much as a traditional grantmaker before rethinking its strategy in recent years to adopt a more resident-led approach.
“We use traditional community organizing techniques to bring together resident teams who identify and prioritize challenges to health equity in their community,” said Calonge. “Then we allow them decision making around how and what they spend their money on as they prioritize their issues. [Our strategy] really came out of visiting rural communities and realizing that they know what they have, what their problems are, what their assets are, and what they need to make their things better.”
Read the full article about letting communities lead the way by Betsey Russell at The Daily Yonder.
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