In rural counties across Kansas, community foundations are helping families overcome urgent and universal challenges, from rising hunger and housing prices to a lack of accessible, affordable health care and child care.

Now, five community foundations in the Sunflower State are examining local problems — and solutions — through a global lens by using the Sustainable Development Goals.

If you ask Conny Bogaard, Teryn Carmichael, Karly Frederick, Becky Nickel, or Yazmin Wood what unites their five counties in rural Kansas, each of them would tell you that the typical Kansan likes to get things done.

As leaders of community foundations that span the state, these women know the challenges facing families in rural Kansas — and how sustainable development can help. They serve some of the state’s smallest towns (Bird City’s population is 450) and its least densely populated counties (the entire county of Greeley is home to just 1,200 people). Some of these foundations have been around for decades; Bird City’s foundation started with funds left over from the town’s centennial celebration in 1985. Others are relatively new; the Peabody Community Foundation was launched in 2000. Each foundation relies on local donors and local residents who represent varied interests, but all five share one ultimate goal: to build resilient communities that can thrive in the 21st century.

Now, as part of a two-year pilot project launched by the Kansas Association of Community Foundations with support from Wichita State University and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, they’re joining forces to learn how rural community foundations can turn the UN’s ambitious global Sustainable Development Goals into local action by swapping insights and connecting with SDG advocates worldwide.

In a series of interviews with the UN Foundation at the start of the project’s second year, all five women shared their perspectives about how the SDGs can be a blueprint for small towns and big cities alike. Responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Read the full article about local foundations and SDG progress by MJ Altman at United Nations Foundation.