National Partnership Tackles Disparities in Rural America

Save the Children, StriveTogether, Partners for Education at Berea College and the Annie E. Casey Foundation focus on improving outcomes for children through $1.2 million Rural Accelerator Initiative

Washington, D.C. (November 20, 2019) – Save the Children, which works in rural communities across the United States where child poverty rates are high and resources are low, has joined forces with StriveTogether, Partners for Education at Berea College and the Annie E. Casey Foundation to develop and launch a first-of-its-kind collective impact effort for rural America. Designed to address complex social issues through a collaborative approach adapted to the unique needs and interests of rural communities, the effort has kicked off in three pilot communities – Perry County, Ky.; Whitley County, Ky.; and Cocke County, Tenn. – with the goal of improving children’s lives from cradle to career.

As part of the effort, the Rural Accelerator Initiative will provide $400,000 over three years to the three pilot communities – an unprecedented $1.2 million investment of funds to rural communities to align action plans developed in each community to prioritize kids and families.

“At StriveTogether, our mission is to help communities transform how they serve children and families,” said Jennifer Blatz, StriveTogether president and CEO. “We know we can achieve more by working together than apart and have proof from nearly 70 communities across the country that the collective impact of organizations working across sectors can influence outcomes for every child. We are excited to bring our proven approach to this initiative and are proud to be part of a landmark effort to accelerate results for youth and families in rural America.”

Rural collective impact combines leadership development, strategic investments, local partnerships and peer learning to ensure children in rural America enter school ready, have a successful education and leave high school ready for a career or higher education. With the support from the national partners, rural communities are working to change local systems to improve results for children, with an initial focus on early developmental milestones of kindergarten-readiness and third-grade reading and math proficiency.

“We have the opportunity to harness the expertise of national leaders in education as well as the local communities where we work, to drive progress toward positive outcomes for children in rural America,” said Betsy Zorio, vice president, Save the Children’s U.S. Programs & Advocacy. “We are grateful to our partners for their support, skills and knowledge and look forward to working together to empower communities to create a successful cradle-to-career pathway for every child in rural America. It’s our ambition to take these learnings and scale to support the nearly 2.5 million children growing up in poverty in rural communities.”

“This Rural Accelerator Initiative recognizes that transformative and lasting change in rural communities must be led by community members” said Dreama Gentry, executive director of Partners for Education. “To do this difficult work, communities need partners who can provide the resources needed to implement change, and we are proud to support the people in rural areas who are leading the way.”

“The Annie E. Casey Foundation has honed an approach to leadership development — called Results Count™ — that it’s bringing to the Rural Accelerator Leadership Program,” said Shanda Crowder, senior associate at the Casey Foundation. “Participants will become more skilled at making effective and lasting changes that will help children grow up healthier and better off.”

Building on the success of StriveTogether’s work in collective impact across the country, Save the Children’s legacy of serving children in rural America, Partners for Education’s achievements throughout Appalachia, and the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s powerful Results Count™ leadership development approach, the national partners plan to expand rural collective impact into additional communities in 2020.

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Save the Children

Save the Children believes every child deserves a future. Since our founding 100 years ago, we’ve changed the lives of more than 1 billion children. In the United States and around the world, we give children a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We do whatever it takes for children – every day and in times of crisis – transforming their lives and the future we share. Follow us on FacebookInstagramTwitter and YouTube.

StriveTogether

StriveTogether partners with nearly 70 communities across the country, providing coaching, resources and rigorous approaches to create opportunities and close gaps in education, housing and so much more. Together, the StriveTogether Cradle to Career Network impacts the lives of 13.7 million youth — including 8.6 million children of color — across 29 states and Washington, D.C. In 2015, StriveTogether launched an initiative called the Cradle to Career Accelerator Fund to accelerate progress in communities toward supporting the success of every child.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation

The Annie E. Casey Foundation is a private philanthropy that creates a brighter future for the nation’s children by developing solutions to strengthen families, build paths to economic opportunity and transform struggling communities into safer and healthier places to live, work and grow.