Purposeful Philanthropy

RSC's Catalyst Fund: Targeted Philanthropy Strengthens Rural School Communities

The Rural Schools Collaborative believes that purposeful school-centered philanthropy is an important economic development opportunity for rural America. School foundations, planned giving, and community foundations are all essential elements of comprehensive philanthropy strategies.

In addition to annual Grants in Place awards to rural teachers, we also support initiatives like the Catalyst Fund. RSC's Catalyst Fund is our organization's philanthropic commitment to practice what we preach. Since 2015 the Catalyst Fund effort has resulted in more than $430,000 for planning grants and challenge grants to support Rural Teacher Corps development.

    We are excited to launch a new planning grant cohort in 2023! The Catalyst Grants Initiative provides $25,000 in planning grants to each of these institutions:

    2022 marked the second year of the Catalyst Fund Initiative, with planning grants being awarded to:

    2021 was the first year of the Catalyst Fund Initiative, with planning grants being awarded to:

    RSC also collaborated with Illinois' Grand Victoria Foundation in successfully completing a $100,000 matching grant program to support:

    • Monmouth College's TARTANS
    • Western Illinois University's Great River Teacher Corps
    • Quincy University's Rural Teacher Corps
    • Eastern Illinois University's Rural Teacher Corps
    • Southern Illinois University's Grow Your Own

    Compeer's Fund for Rural America awarded a $10,000 grant to the Rural Schools Collaborative to strengthen the capacity of four new rural teachers corps programs during the 2020-21 Covid-19 crisis. The goal of the Covid-19 Response Support Catalyst was to further the efforts of four emerging rural teacher corps programs in Compeer Financial’s service regions. Covid-19 presented and continues to present an array of new challenges to the rural teacher shortage. The following higher education institutions received support:

    • University of Wisconsin-Platteville
    • Monmouth College
    • Quincy University
    • Western Illinois University

    This project was also supported by the Galesburg Community Foundation and the Southeastern Illinois Community Foundation.

    This work also included historical planning grants to:

    We invite you to learn more about how philanthropic strategies can bolster rural school communities.


    School Foundations

    Local school advocates can organize efforts to develop much-needed school resources.


    Planned Giving

    Community-wide planned giving programs are an essential element of rural economic development.


    Community Foundations

    Public foundations can play a crucial role in rural school community development.