Giving Compass' Take:

• The Aspen Institute promotes useful data and collaboration between local organizations to forge rural progress towards equitable opportunity.

• How can a cross-sector approach create lasting progress in rural communities? What can you do in your organization to place a premium on rural progress for communities that have the most to gain?

• Learn about how to foster rural progress and development within the ecosystem.

Sector-specific solutions dominate rural policy. We often hear about rural health, rural water, rural housing, broadband, agriculture. These are pieces of something bigger: rural communities. What would it look like to consider the needs and priorities of rural communities in an integrated and holistic way? To start: building better fundamentals for rural progress with good data, fairer media practices and stronger local organizations.

Economic recovery in rural areas will require surfacing pernicious structural and cultural issues, embedded over decades, and evident in the disparities COVID-19 has laid bare. Better data and information is essential to rural-serving organization’s ability to assess what is working and what is not, to recognize the assets their communities have as well as the inequities in local outcomes; and to determine how to deploy their assets in ways that result in more resilient and fair communities where everyone belongs. While today’s available data indicates rural distress – and reporting about rural and tribal communities should acknowledge this – the media can be true to the complexity of reporting on rural and tribal communities by also showcasing assets, diversity, innovation, natural beauty, cultural richness, and opportunity.

We often talk about the need for collaboration in community; collaboration is needed among national rural-focused organizations too. Improved lines of communication, better understanding of organizational strengths, and new ways to share intellectual property may not sound glamorous, but they are the building blocks of collaboration.

Finally, we hope that the commitment to collaboration that was at the heart of this effort will continue, mirrored and multiplied across the many organizations that are invested in fostering a more inclusive, more prosperous rural America.

Read the full article about rural progress at The Aspen Institute