The Land of Lincoln has played a key role in the development of the Rural Schools Collaborative, and is home to our main office.

The Illinois Hub exemplifies the Rural Schools Collaborative mission and includes statewide rural teacher corps projects, the Place Network, and rural philanthropy efforts. The Illinois Hub is anchored by our partnerships with the Galesburg Community Foundation and Monmouth College. Tammy La Prad, co-chair of Educational Studies at Monmouth College, serves as hub contact.

The organizational roots of Rural Schools Collaborative are sunk deep within the prairies of Illinois. Since our founding in 2015, the higher education institutions, community foundations, nonprofits, and rural schools and communities of Illinois have been central players in the organization's growth. Consistent throughout these years of engagement with the diverse community of rural-focused allies is a commitment to people, a vision of thriving communities, a belief that local public schools are a keystone for joining it all together.

Currently, the Illinois Hub is headed up by our strategic partnerships with the Galesburg Community Foundation and the Educational Studies department at Monmouth College. Josh Gibb, CEO of the Galesburg Community Foundation, shares “how important public education is to the future of our region,” and envisions the foundation as playing a key “role in bolstering the relationships between area schools and communities.”

Josh Gibb, CEO of the Galesburg Community Foundation.

One of the Galesburg Community Foundation’s ongoing projects is its close collaboration with Monmouth College. That spirit of working together to tackle big issues is the foundation of Monmouth College’s Rural Education Initiatives program (REDI). With support from GCF and RSC, REDI was created to capture and focus the burgeoning rural-centric work of the department. Along with housing the TARTANS Rural Teacher Corps, REDI has partnered with Teton Science Schools to designate Place Network schools in the area and continued developing the college’s educational garden and farm spaces.

While the Galesburg Community Foundation and Monmouth College currently head up the Illinois Hub, other longstanding Rural Schools Collaborative partners not only fostered the establishment of a hub in the region, but were also central figures in the creation of RSC. Dave Audrey, Executive Director of the Association of Illinois Rural and Small Schools, was an early advocate for Rural Schools Collaborative and served as the organization’s inaugural board chair. AIRSS, an affiliate of the National Rural Education Association, remains a close partner connecting Rural Schools Collaborative with the good work of rural schools across the state.

Through these partnerships and so many more, Illinois now boasts 5 rural teacher corps efforts, covering a vast swath of the state’s rural areas, including the Eastern Illinois University Rural School Initiative headed up by Rural Schools Collaborative advocate Dr. Brian Reid, the Southern Illinois University Grow Your Own Program, the Western Illinois University Great River Teacher Corps, Quincy University’s grow your own initiative, and Monmouth College’s TARTANS. Check out more about the exciting work happening across Illinois below.

Rural Teacher Corp Feature

Seymour Center for Rural Education

An expansion of the Great River Teacher Corp Program at Western Illinois University.

The center, housed within the School of Education in the College of Education and Human Services, will act upon its mission through five sustainable priorities: developing a system to expand the teacher applicant pool for rural school districts in the region, providing advocacy, policy and research activities, developing a network for rural educators to partner with school districts and advocating for rural education at the local, state and national level.

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