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New board chair Renee Carr from Fox, Arkansas and outgoing board chair David Ardrey of Murphysboro, Illinois are pictured at the RSC board planning retreat in St. Charles, MO.

Our Stories

Thank You for a Year of Good Work!

St. Charles, Missouri

September 12, 2016

The Rural Schools Collaborative (RSC) board of directors thanks everyone who played a role in what was a very successful first full year of operations. Generous donors, volunteer contributors, and innovative rural schoolteachers came together in a way that exceeded our most optimistic expectations. Under the leadership of RSC board chair, David Ardrey, we formulated an action plan and made every effort to achieve our outcome-based goals.

Here are just a few of the highlights from 2015-16:

  • RSC's collaborative 2016-17 Grants in Place program grew to award more than $105,000 to 33 projects, which will engage students in 54 communities and seven states during the current school year. The grants involve 60 different teachers and were supported by 22 funding partners. In addition, we enjoyed highlighting the innovative work of every single one of the 35 inaugural Grants in Place recipients from our 2015-16 organizational launch year.
  • A $10,000 planning grant allowed RSC to partner with Dakota Wesleyan University in hosting The Rural Teacher Corps Project: A Stakeholder Dialogue. More than 60 educators, future rural teachers, and advocates from nine states made their way to Mitchell, South Dakota last June, where they addressed an essential question: “How do we work together to strengthen the recruitment, preparation, and placement/retention of future rural teachers?” Suffice to say, their answers were eye-opening,
  • RSC made a modest planning grant to the University of West Alabama College of Education, which resulted in an Alabama state funding appropriation to establish the Black Belt Teacher Corps. This program will prepare teacher-leaders for service in the west Alabama region and will help inform RSC on how to advance the rural teacher corps concept. We cannot tell you how excited we are about this wonderful new endeavor!
  • We were honored to add Jim Beddow of Sioux Falls, SD to our board of directors. In addition, Ann Schulte Ph.D. Professor of Education at California State University, Chico, Brian Fogle, President and CEO of the Community Foundation of the Ozarks, and Florida author Faith Harkey joined our roster of RSC Advocates.
  • The Rural Schools Collaborative provided technical and planning assistance to the Galesburg Community Foundation's regional organizational endowment building campaign. This highly successful challenge grant program resulted in 20 western Illinois nonprofits creating more than $518,000 in permanent endowment.
  • A small challenge grant of $1,000 to Arkansas’ Rural Community Alliance resulted in ten tiny rural communities completing a variety of grassroots community development projects that totaled $9,000.

Again, we want to thank David Ardrey, executive director of the Association of Illinois Rural and Small Schools, for providing volunteer board leadership to this work. None of this would have happened without the dedication and service of David and our board of directors. Also, we are looking very forward to working with our 2016-17-board chair, Renee Carr, the former executive director and current chief financial officer for Arkansas’ Rural Community Alliance. Jim Beddow, Sioux Falls, SD, will serve as vice-chair; Julie Leeth, Springfield, MO, will serve as treasurer, and Joshua D. Gibb of Galesburg, IL will be the board secretary.

Finally, thanks to each of you for the roles that you played. Every time you tweet, like, tell a story, make a small donation, or simply take the time to read one of our web features, you are assisting an effort that is committed to the belief that rural schools and communities get better together. Let's keep it going! We encourage you to get involved!


RSC's board of directors, pictured in St. Charles, MO during their recent planning retreat: First row--left to right: Jim Beddow, Sioux Falls, SD; Julie Leeth, Springfield, MO; Lavina Grandon, Everton, AR; Renee Carr, Fox, AR; Back row: Joshua D.Gibb, Galesburg, IL; Gary Funk, ex-officio, Cambridge, WI; Andrea Evans, University City, IL, David Ardrey, Murphysboro, IL. Absent was Carol Silvey, West Plains, MO.

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