The United States Department of Agriculture recently reported that charitable foundation grants to U.S.-based rural organizations showed a “slight downward trend.” Their analysis “found that the share of domestic grants benefiting rural areas during 2005-2010 was likely in the range of 6 to 7 percent.” This is particularly troubling when one considers that 19 percent of the U.S. population lived in rural areas in 2010. The study’s author, John L. Pender, suggests that the findings clearly show “an urban focus in foundation grants.”
The Rural Schools Collaborative is committed to supporting rural philanthropy, and we believe a strong focus on public education is essential to this effort. These latest findings reinforce the rationale for our work. Waiting for the nation’s largest foundations to serve rural places in an equitable manner is like waiting for Godot—we shouldn’t hold our collective breaths.
What we can do is work together to grow our own philanthropic resources—giving vehicles that are scale-appropriate and clearly established with a rural purpose. We simply must act on our own behalf.
The resources to do so are there. The question is whether or not we have the will.
We encourage you to read the USDA report in its entirety here.