Celebrating rural resiliency and passion across the U.S.

If you threw a dart at a map of the United States, it might get stuck in a canyon in the Southwest, perch on the peak of a prodigious mountain in the Northwest or skim swaying wheat fields of the Midwest. Regardless of where you land, it’s likely to be in rural territory.

An astounding 72 percent of the United States is rural and about sixty million people call it home. Each rural community counted in that 72 percent is unique in their own right, not only in its landscape but in the opportunities and challenges they face. Just like urban areas, rural communities see a world of possibilities for the future.

Yet, they have fewer philanthropic partners dedicated to helping them realize that potential.

Ticking through a list of philanthropic foundations across the nation, only a handful are focused exclusively on rural communities. In Minnesota, Blandin Foundation is the only statewide foundation that is rural-based and rural-focused.

So when we see good work happening in rural America, we take notice!

In an article last week, Philanthropy Northwest featured Ford Family Foundation President Anne Kubisch, who spoke directly about the urban-rural divide in philanthropy .

In her interview, she shines a spotlight on the resiliency of rural people, saying:

What I really love about being in the rural Northwest is the incredible commitment rural residents have to their own place. Their total love for their communities, often through multiple generations, is beautiful and deeply moving. This means that community residents really have to learn to live and work together, regardless of their personal, social or political differences. In urban areas, it’s easier for people to avoid each other. I don’t want to be naive, I know that there are some deep ideological divides among residents of rural communities. But I’m struck by the number of people who are trying to overcome those divisions and find compromises and pragmatic solutions…

It is those people and organizations — the ones forging solutions through creativity and collaboration — that The Ford Family Foundation champions. As a rural-focused foundation in Oregon, they invest in individuals and community capacity through scholarships, grants and leadership training – similar to what we do here at Blandin Foundation!

Blandin Foundation and The Ford Family Foundation play a unique role in philanthropy. Our founders recognized the vibrancy of rural places and wanted to keep it alive. They felt the passion bubbling in every tiny town, ready for a spark to ignite it into action.

The energy to act emerges from people coming together, and that’s what rural foundations do best – we bring people together. We encourage rural people to work together to achieve the dreams they imagined for the communities they love. Thanks to The Ford Family Foundation for celebrating the resilient nature and innate passion of rural people. We’re happy to know that if our dart hits rural Oregon, we’re landing on a vibrant community that’s been nurtured through your work.

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