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Rural Communities on the RISE

Updated: Apr 16

The Drew Lewis Foundation has taken their RISE program out of the city and into rural communities. Here’s what you need to know.


A critical element for truly eradicating rural poverty is understanding where poor residents live and how to develop circles of market-led growth among those towns and rural areas. Rural poverty often stems from limited access to markets, education, quality infrastructure, employment opportunities, health, and financial products. The Drew Lewis Foundation’s research on the rural areas around Springfield determined that most of them have poverty rates close to or higher than Springfield’s poverty rate.   

The Rural RISE program was developed through creative efforts to uplift persistently poor rural areas and communities by providing resources and empowering families to increase their self-sufficiency and stability. The program offers unique strategies that help families sustain their long-term success in emerging from circumstances that have kept them living in survival mode.

Our program focuses on 10 key areas for stability: accountability, parenting training, transportation, housing, childcare, financial planning, job training, education, resolving legal issues, and health and well-being. We collaborate with or outsource to health clinics, needs-based programs, schools, childcare centers, recreation providers, and other facilities and programs. Funding is an integral component, but money alone isn’t moving the needle in these small towns. Mission-driven organizations known as Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) are behind the progress too. They consist of local experts who know what their neighbors need and who have the relationships and knowledge to tailor solutions to specific challenges in their communities.

Rural RISE demonstrates the commitment of the public and private sectors to reducing persistent poverty and creates opportunities in rural communities. Read our report for more details on what Rural RISE has accomplished this year. What constitutes a compassionate community? What is happening in the place where you live? Are you involved in organizing your community to be a compassionate one? Let us know your thoughts, the accomplishments you’ve been making, and the problems you’ve uncovered. Share your opinions, ideas, thoughts, and concerns.

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