The Rural Policy Networks are nearly 90 organizations from five specific geographic regions and two at-large or national networks. These networks and their organizational members are working collaboratively on policy change in support of rural families and communities. Issues include economic vitality, immigration, access to broadband, funding mandates for early childhood education, development and promotion of anti-predatory lending platforms, state legislation to promote agri-tourism, and policies that strengthen the rural role in federal and state transportation planning.
For the past three years, network organizations have invested in building organizational capacity, skills, and alliances to prepare for regional and national policy action efforts together. In November 2010, the seven rural networks convened and identified policy issues on which they plan to focus collective efforts. Over the next few years, these networks will work together to translate their expertise, skills, and connections into policy action that improves the lives of rural children and their families.
Launched in 2006, The Rural People, Rural Policy Initiative of the W. K. Kellogg Foundation was designed as a multi-year national effort to energize and equip rural organizations and networks to shape policy that would improve the lives of rural people and the vitality of rural communities.
RPRP was based on the premise that rural America has abundant assets and that the brightest potential for rural America will come when rural people are stronger, more organized policy actors. The goal of RPRP was to build and strengthen skilled networks and rural organizations to be articulate and act in the policy arena. This Initiative raised the national visibility of rural communities’ problems and potential and engages that potential to change policy and practice.
There were two main components to the RPRP Initiative – the Rural Policy Networks and the National Rural Assembly.
The Rural Policy Network organizations engaged in a multi-year process to develop their individual and collective strategies, skills, and efforts to improve the impact of public and private policy on rural people and rural places and to form a critical mass of capable and effective organizations that envision, craft, and implement policy that improves rural outcomes.
The National Rural Assembly began as a meeting of rural advocates and evolved into a movement of people and organizations devoted to building a stronger, more vibrant rural America for children, families, and communities. Participants include more than 500 local, regional, and national organizations based in 47 states and the District of Columbia. The goal of the National Rural Assembly is to make the country stronger by improving the outlook for rural communities. The guiding principle is that an inclusive, prospering, and sustainable rural America improves prospects for us all.