Rural Support Partners, mission-driven management consultants with a participatory approach to create lasting, equitable change in rural areas. Rural community and economic development.

What We Do

Rural Support Partners (RSP) exists to unleash the power of participation and cultivate the conditions for participatory change.

We do this by: 

  • Nurturing the skills, confidence, and practices of participatory changemakers;
  • Increasing the capacity, health, and impact of changemaking organizations and networks;
  • Fostering equitable practices inside organizations and across community economic development efforts; and
  • Innovating the field of participatory change.

We do this so that equity, well-being, and regeneration are fostered for people, places, and the planet.

With this as our North Star, we provide mission-centered consulting services and educational opportunities to a diverse portfolio of leaders, nonprofits, foundations, networks, and social enterprises.


Rural changemakers and organizations everywhere are navigating complex conditions and barriers to deep community impact. Ever-changing social, political, and ecological dynamics in rural communities make the already difficult work of changemaking more challenging. Maintaining staff-wide cohesion, fostering accessibility and accountability, and cultivating equity and well-being across an organization is a daunting task. All this becomes more difficult with changes such as remote work and generation shifts in leadership. And most organizations lack the internal management practices, policies, structures, and culture to help emerging leaders and the next generation succeed. 

When you partner with us, you will:

  • Build and fortify leadership skills that inspire
  • Increase your organization’s health and effectiveness
  • Improve your strategies and focus
  • Build inclusive, successful collaborations
  • Deepen your equitable community impact


By listening deeply to consulting clients’ needs, we provide the right processes, tools, and support to address issues, capture opportunities, and increase organizational health. RSP leads the engagement process with while offering the flexibility of a customized, responsive approach to help clients navigate the ever-increasing complexities of organizational leadership and management. 

As a nationally recognized management consulting firm, our team draws on 50 years of combined experience in nonprofit and social-enterprise management, philanthropy, network development, and community development finance. Whether you are undertaking a big-picture organizational assessment, conducting evaluations of your impact, laying out a strategic planning roadmap, navigating an executive transition, or there’s something you can’t quite find the words to describe, Rural Support Partners can help you find the right tools for your unique situation. 

Our customized, responsive services include: 

● Strategic Planning Roadmap Development: We develop comprehensive strategic roadmaps that outline clear goals, action steps, and indicators of success for organizations and networks. 

● Leadership Transition Support:
We provide support during leadership transitions, assisting organizations in effectively managing the change process and ensuring a smooth transition.

● Thought Partnership:
We help you navigate the unique challenges and opportunities of rural contexts.

● Organizational Assessments:
We conduct holistic organizational assessments to understand health, strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities.

● Expert Guidance Organizational Development and Change:
We guide you in creating agile and adaptive organizations and strong teams capable of thriving in complex environments.

● Network Building and Backbone Support Training:
We equip you with the skills and knowledge to effectively facilitate collaboration and drive systemic change.

● Tailored Consulting:
We bring a wealth of expertise and tools to support you in areas such as governance, operations, financial management, and resource development.

Grounded in the principles of systems change, our approach goes beyond traditional evaluation methods to deeply understand the complex dynamics at play and measure the true impact of social interventions. We believe that evaluating the effectiveness of social initiatives requires a holistic perspective that considers the interconnections between different elements within a system.

Drawing upon our expertise in systems thinking, data analysis, and program evaluation, we provide the following services:

● Systems Mapping and Analysis:
We identify key actors, relationships, and feedback loops within the context of your initiative to uncover leverage points for strategy and change.

● Participatory Evaluation Design:
We facilitate participatory evaluation processes, ensuring that diverse voices and perspectives are represented throughout the assessment journey.

● Outcome Capture and Sensemaking:
We employ outcome capture to name and make sense of the unanticipated outcomes and systemic shifts resulting from your initiatives. By embracing emergent learning and collective sensemaking, we uncover valuable insights that inform adaptive strategies.

● Developmental Evaluation:
We work with you to integrate evaluation and learning into program design and implementation. This iterative approach enables continuous adaptation, innovation, and the optimization of program outcomes.

● Impact Measurement and Data Analysis:
Our experts employ rigorous quantitative and qualitative methods to measure the impact of your initiatives. From developing tailored impact indicators to conducting advanced data analysis, we generate evidence-backed insights that inform decision-making and enhance accountability.

● Ecosystem Evaluation:
We uncover the broader social, environmental, and economic dynamics surrounding your initiatives. By analyzing the interdependencies, synergies, and potential impacts within the ecosystem, we help you identify opportunities for collaboration, leverage resources, and foster systemic change.

● Communicating Impact:
We help craft compelling narratives and visually engaging reports that communicate the story of your impact. By effectively conveying complex findings to stakeholders, funders, and the wider public, we amplify your organization’s achievements and increase visibility.

● Capacity Building and Training:
We provide customized capacity-building programs to empower your team with the skills and knowledge needed for effective impact evaluation. Through interactive workshops and training sessions, we enhance evaluation capabilities and foster a culture of learning within your organization.

Honoring the history of participatory community work in rural Appalachia and beyond, we equip changemakers with the tools, support, and connections to affect transformative participatory change in rural communities. In the New School of Participatory Change (NSPC), changemakers partner with peers and experienced instructors to grow their skills and develop their confidence. Changemakers build personalized practice and plans for facilitating participatory change while cultivating equitable abundance in their own lives, organizations, and communities. Through our experiential offerings, changemakers engage in deep opportunities to practice participatory methods and build mutually supportive relationships with other rural changemakers.
NSPC provides education, training, and coaching about:
     ● Participatory Changemaking and Leadership
     ● Participatory Facilitation

     ● Regenerative Practices and Strategy
     ● Group Process and Design
     ● Tailored topics and needs

The New School offers changemakers:
     ● Conditions for supportive and brave spaces in which they can show up honestly and thrive 
     ● Reflection opportunities that cultivate self-understanding and confidence
     ● Encouraging environment that nutures authentic leadership and individual genius 
     ● Space for, and guidance in, deepening leadership practices that are authentic and impactful 
     ● A framework for practice and changemaking built on core participatory values
     ● A Community of Practice (CoP) for collaborating with, learning with, and mutually supporting fellow participatory changemakers

Our Clients

We partner with funders, nonprofit organizations, networks, financial institutions, and changemakers inside and outside the Central Appalachian region to achieve their objectives with a deeper impact and broader scale.

Past & Current Clients (A – H)

Alabama Sustainable Ag Network
Annie E. Casey Foundation
Appalachia Funders Network
Appalachia Regional Food Business Center
Appalachian Citizens Law Center
Appalachian Community Capital
Appalachian Food Summit
Appalachian Regional Commission
Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project
Appalachian Sustainable Development
ArtPlace America
Aspen Institute
Bristol Public Library
Brushy Fork Institute
Burke Development Inc.
Carolina Small Business Development Fund
Carolina Textile District
Center for Rural Entrepreneurship
Central Appalachian Forestry Alliance
Central Appalachian Network
Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
Coalfield Development Corporation
Community & Economic Development Initiative of Kentucky, University of Kentucky
Community Farm Alliance
The Educational Foundation of America
Emma Community Ownership
Ford Foundation
Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky
The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation
Greenbrier Valley Economic Development Corporation

Past & Current Clients (H – Z)

Heifer International
Highlander Research & Education Center
The Industrial Commons
Invest Appalachia
Just Transition Fund
The Just Trust
Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust
LOCUS Impact Investing
McIntosh SEED
Mountain BizWorks
New Roots Community Farm
Partner Community Capital (formerly Natural Capital Investment Fund)
Opportunity Appalachia
New Opportunity School For Women
Osteopathic Heritage Foundation
The REACH Initiative
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Rural Action
Rural Resources
Southern Sustainable Ag Working Group
Sustainable Food Lab
Tennesseans for Fair Taxation
The One Foundation
Truist Bank CRA / Community Development
West Virginia Community Development Hub
West Virginia Food & Farm Coalition
WNC Nonprofit Pathways

Learn More

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Management - Strategy - Collaboration

Rural Support Partners equips changemakers, organizations, and networks to cultivate lasting, equitable, participatory change in rural areas.

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