New Initiative Will Tackle Disparities in Rural Communities

Four organizations— the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Save the Children, StriveTogether, and Partners for Education at Berea College—have launched a new initiative aimed at bettering the lives of children in rural America.

Called the Rural Accelerator Initiative, the program is designed to provide educational resources to children in pastoral communities that might not otherwise have access to these opportunities. Through a combination of strategic investments, local partnerships, leadership development, and peer learning, the Rural Accelerator Initiative will ensure that these children receive a quality education and graduate from high school either ready for a career or prepared for college.

“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,” said Jennifer Blatz, president and CEO of StriveTogether. “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.”

Over the course of three years, the program will invest a total of $1.2 million in the following focus areas: Perry County, Ky.; Whitley County, Ky.; and Cocke County, Tenn.

“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 of U.S. programs and advocacy for Save the Children. “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 two and half million children growing up in poverty in rural communities.”