Ongoing Support for Rural Leaders
At Rural Support Partners, we understand many of the challenges that rural non-profit leaders face. We work to strengthen the capacity of rural leaders, ensure smooth executive transitions, and support the next generation of rural leaders through our Rural Fellowship Program.
Our recent study, Nonprofit Leaders in the Rural South, found that 63% of executive directors were planning to leave their organizations within the next five years. Only 15%, however, had a succession plan in place. We believe that facilitated support for executive transitions is crucial to allow for the best possible outcomes for incoming and outgoing leaders, as well as the whole organization.
The Fellowship Program
Rural Support Partners is committed to providing meaningful opportunities for the next generation of rural leaders to hone skills, build relationships, and develop leadership qualities. Rural Fellows are emerging leaders who come to Rural Support Partners following their Bachelors or Masters degree.
We provide Rural Fellows with the opportunity to gain hands-on experience, develop professional networks, and learn the values, history, and philosophy upholding rural community work. In return, Fellows increase our capacity to serve, while bringing unlimited energy, excitement, and curiosity to our work.
We provide fellowships for two reasons: 1) a significant number of rural nonprofit leaders are preparing to leave the field, and 2) rural next generation leaders struggle to find support, training, and entry into the field.
Rural Support Partners has worked with 15 Rural Fellows since 2009.
Our fellowship program is an intensive, year-long initiative with the possibility of extending into a second year. Rural Fellows take on significant responsibilities, including co-management of regional networks of rural development practitioners and funders, co-facilitation of organizational development projects, and co-management of participatory research and evaluation efforts. Fellows are also expected to take a leadership role within the RSP team. Fellowships are paid positions.
For more information, please review the following documents:
- Position Announcement
- What Might I Learn as a Rural Fellow?
- Advice for Potential Fellowship Applicants
We also offer limited opportunities for currently enrolled students to complete short-term internships and field placements with Rural Support Partners. Please contact us to discuss your interests and requirements.
RSP's fellowship program is currently on hold. We encourage potential fellows to apply for the Appalachian Transition Fellowship Program. In 2014, RSP partnered with the Highlander Research and Education Center to launch AppFellows, a year-long, full-time, paid program designed for 15 emerging community leaders who are committed to working in Central Appalachia for the economic transition of the region. Central Appalachia is defined as West Virginia, Southwest Virginia, Eastern Kentucky, Eastern Tennessee, Appalachian Ohio and Western North Carolina.
This program offers the opportunity to spend a year working within host communities to help foster cross-sector (education, nonprofit, for-profit, philanthropy, and government) partnerships, provide needed capacity to regional efforts, and build personal and professional skills. Through institutional placements, independently designed projects, training, and mentoring, the program gives emerging leaders and host organizations skills and networks needed to advance economic and social change in the region. Click here for more information and to apply.