Giving Compass' Take:

• Experts and practitioners came together to discuss the barriers for rural students planning to go to college and how to best support them during COVID-19. 

• What are some of these preexisting hurdles for rural students, and how can donors help? 

• Read more on how technology can help rural students feel connected. 

In early March, a group of experts and practitioners came together to discuss the challenges rural students face in pursuing education beyond high school—as well as innovative solutions that can support them on that path. This Gaining by Degrees: Increasing Rural Education, Career and Community Success session, one in the America’s Rural Opportunity series, was sponsored by rootEd Alliance with the Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group and the Rural Development Innovation Group.

Since that time, the world as we know it has drastically shifted, with millions of young people in rural America’s high schools now facing an even more uncertain future. Their preexisting barriers—from broadband connectivity issues to historically higher levels of poverty—have only been amplified amidst COVID-19, threatening to reduce rural America’s lower higher education attainment even further. As school districts, colleges and universities, and community-based organizations grapple with the immediate shocks and long-term implications of the pandemic, we checked in with our March panelists to see how their students are coping, how their teams are reacting, and what the novel coronavirus could mean for rural education.

Brianna Morton is a College Access Counselor, but a better title for her might be “Barrier Breaker.” At Riverside High School in Decatur County, Tennessee—home to 11,700 people, where one in four children lives below the poverty line—she works tirelessly to ensure that nothing stands in a student’s way of pursuing their dreams through post-secondary education.

Read the full article about supporting rural students at The Aspen Institute.