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Poverty

Rural IMPACT?

Ten communities from around the country have been named Rural IMPACT Demonstration Sites.  Rural IMPACT is a part of a larger initiative by the White House Rural Council (also called “Rural Impact” – only this time all the letters of “Impact” are not capitalized), which is designed to address the high rates of child poverty in rural areas by using a multi-generational approach for the investment of public and private resources in families and communities.  Rural Impact is an effort by the administration to combat poverty and improve upward mobility for people living in rural areas or tribal places.

The purpose of Rural IMPACT (short for “Rural Integration Models for Parents and Children to Thrive”) is to assist communities in adopting “comprehensive, whole-family framework for addressing child poverty, such as through facilitating physical colocation of services, universal ‘no wrong door’ intake, referral networks shared measurement systems, and use of technology to deliver services.”[1]   Through Rural IMPACT, federal agencies will work together to assist rural and tribal communities in addressing the needs of vulnerable families.  The goal is to both increase the parents’ employment and education, and ensure child and family well-being.

The ten communities selected to participate in the Rural IMPACT Demonstration are:

  1.  Berea (KY), Partners for Education at Berea College (Serving Knox County, KY)
  2. Blanding (UT), The San Juan Foundation (Serving San Juan County, UT)
  3. Blytheville (AR), Mississippi County, Arkansas Economic Opportunity Commission, Inc. (Serving Mississippi County, AR)
  4. Hillsboro (OH), Highland County Community Action Organization, Inc. (Serving Highland County, OH)
  5. Hugo (OK), Little Dixie Community Action Agency, Inc. (Serving Choctaw, McCurtain and Pushmataha Counties)
  6. Jackson (MS), Friends of Children of Mississippi, Inc. (Serving Issaquena, Sharkey and Humphreys Counties, MS)
  7. Machias (ME), Community Caring Collaborative (Serving Washington County, ME)
  8. Marshalltown (IA), Mid‐Iowa Community Action, Inc. (Serving Marshalltown, IA)
  9. Oakland (MD), Garrett County Community Action Committee and the Allegany Human Resources Commission (Serving Garrett and Allegany Counties, MD)
  10. White Earth (MN), White Earth Reservation Tribal Council (Serving Mahnomen County and portions of Clearwater and Becker Counties)[2]

These rural and tribal communities were selected by the Health and Human Services Department after submitting letters of interest to participate.  The participants will receive targeted technical assistance (TA) during a six-month planning period with to help communities link programs and services.  The participants will also receive at least 6 months of additional TA to assist with implementing their plan specifically targeting child poverty.  The participants will work with the Corporation for National and Community Service to develop projects and place AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers with local partners to assist in building local community capacity.  Additionally peer sharing of information between the participants will be encouraged, and the participants will receive support form a federal interagency team to address barriers to cross-programmatic work.

While technical assistance and information sharing will likely provide some benefit to rural communities, the question that Rural IMPACT creates is, other than technical assistance, is there really anything to this initiative?  However well intentioned, technical assistance from federal agencies alone is not a substitute for inadequately funded schools, poor nutation, substandard housing or lack clean drinking water – all of which are putting rural families and children at great risk, and must be addressed.

[1] Fact Sheet: 10 Communities Named Rural IMPACT Demonstration Sites, USDA News Release, 9/25/2015, http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?contentid=2015/09/0267.xml&navid=NEWS_RELEASE&navtype=RT&parentnav=LATEST_RELEASES&edeployment_action=retrievecontent.

[2] Fact Sheet: 10 Communities Named Rural IMPACT Demonstration Sites, USDA News Release, 9/25/2015, http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?contentid=2015/09/0267.xml&navid=NEWS_RELEASE&navtype=RT&parentnav=LATEST_RELEASES&edeployment_action=retrievecontent; Whitney Foreman-Cook, White House Project COnsolidates Federal Programs to Fight Rural Proverty, 9/25/2015, http://www.agri-pulse.com/White-House-project-consolidates-federal-programs-to-fight-rural-poverty-09252015.asp

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