Rural Networks for Wealth Creation

Image of a barn in a valley in winter

Rural Support Partners conducted an in-depth study of collective impact networks working to create wealth that sticks in rural communities. We conducted interviews with 24 practitioners in six different rural networks across the United States. The networks differed in terms of scope, geographic focus, areas of work, and approach. We wanted to learn the following:

  • What is a network able to do that an individual organization is unable to do on its own?
  • Why would we want to build a network in the first place?
  • Why might a network be worth the time and money that it requires?

What we learned was an immense amount about what makes collective impact networks effective in building wealth that sticks in rural areas: Networks are places where people and organizations build the trust and relationships needed to dream big and get big things done together. When people and organizations join networks, they share ideas, approaches, and support – and their work becomes stronger. By working together, organizations in networks are able to achieve concrete results that are deeper, broader, and greater in scale. What’s more, networks allow people and groups to develop the collective power needed to influence institutions, systems, practices, and policies, and these are crucial for fundamental, long-term change.

Read our findings here: Rural Networks for Wealth Creation: Impacts and Lessons Learned from US Communities

This report was written by Rural Support Partners and supported by The Ford Foundation’s Wealth Creation in Rural Communities – Building Sustainable Livelihoods initiative, which was part of The Foundation’s Expanding Livelihood Opportunities for Poor Households Initiative.

To accompany our findings, we created a toolkit for those thinking about building or already operating a collective impact network. We also summarized what we believe are the building blocks of successful networks.