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Rural Arkansas Communities Get Helping Hand to Build Economic, Educational Opportunities

State’s largest rural advocacy organization moves the needle in small towns.
Some rural Arkansas communities are getting a helping hand to grow economic and educational opportunities.
 
The last time the Rural Community Alliance (RCA) mobilized its 1,500 members, they ended up in the New York Times.

“It’s no small thing when more than 1,500 Arkansans from dozens of rural communities speak with a unified voice,“ said Dr. Sherece Y. West-Scantlebury, president and CEO of the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation. “RCA’s Save Our Post Office campaign gained national attention and support from state legislators that resulted in keeping several rural Arkansas post offices open.”

RCA is a leading advocate and organizer in small communities around the state. They provide training and technical support to small communities designed to expand economic and educational opportunities. The Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation (WRF) recently awarded the organization a $175,000 grant to help rural Arkansas communities survive and thrive.

Established in 2003, RCA is the largest advocacy organization in Arkansas dedicated exclusively to rural challenges. RCA has 55 chapters scattered across the state. RCA trains its members to become advocates for their communities and unites their voices on statewide issues. RCA mobilized its members in 2010 to defeat a legislative proposal that would have transferred $1.5 million from small, high-poverty, rural school districts to larger, wealthier districts.

In addition to advocacy and organizing, RCA facilitates community revitalization projects in low-wealth communities and supports increased involvement for young people.

“The dedication and commitment of our members is RCA’s greatest asset,” said Ms. Renee Carr, executive director of RCA. “Rural communities in Arkansas have the potential to prosper when residents work collaboratively together.”

The RCA supports community change. Its vision for improving rural Arkansas includes excellent schools that provide rural youth with access to a world-class education; strong communities that make the most of their resources in an environmentally and culturally responsible manner; and committed citizens who work together across geographic, socioeconomic, and racial barriers to affect statewide policy that impacts their families, schools, and communities.
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