Rural Imperative Initiative

Announcing our collaborative initiative designed to elevate teacher voices through the power of partnership

September 9, 2021 |

Rural Imperative Initiative: Elevating Teacher Voices

Rural Schools Collaborative, National Rural Education Association, and Community Foundation of the Ozarks are proud to announce a continued partnership to launch the Rural Imperative Initiative, funded by The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Rural Schools Collaborative firmly believes that teacher’s voices are critical to supporting rural schools. This multifaceted program aims to build a compelling national narrative that is both evidential and aspirational, and to connect this “story” to state, regional, and national policymakers and influencers.

The Rural Imperative Initiative will elevate the teacher experience in several key ways:

  • Promote and Celebrate Rural Teacher Job Opportunities: In fall of 2021, RSC and NREA will launch a Rural Teacher Job Board on the I Am A Rural Teacher Website. This interactive job board will spotlight rural regions and schools with positions available.

  • Strengthen Rural Teacher Retention: The rural teacher shortage is a crisis for many communities. Driven by the Young Educator’s Advisory Council, RSC will create a “Resiliency Guide” for advice, stories, and inspiration for early career rural teachers.

  • Expand I Am A Rural Teacher Campaign Narratives: RSC and NREA will tell the stories of rural schools through podcasts, interviews, social media, and beyond. User-submitted stories are always welcome at this link.

  • Create Regional “Policy Playbooks'' of Recommendations: What do policy makers need to know about your region? RSC is partnering with five organizations to convene teacher-leaders in exploring the opportunities, challenges, and solutions unique to their area:
  • Connect International Teachers through Rural Educators Across Borders: A key tenant of place-based education is the local-to-global connection. This program creates a digital platform and learning community for rural teachers everywhere. Participants in this work come from across the globe including Wales, Uganda, and Spain.

  • Engage Leaders in Broadband Advocacy: The Gates Foundation is a proud sponsor of this year’s 2021 National Rural Education Association Conference: Raising Rural - A Fair Chance at a Good Life. In addition to promoting broadband advocacy at this Nov 11-12 conference, The NREA and affiliates will also convene regional Rural Broadband Coalitions to continue the conversation on a local level.

Rural Schools Collaborative knows that in rural, we are better together: through the power of partnerships, we are able to achieve so much more than any one person working alone. The Rural Imperative Initiative is an innovative approach to strengthen rural networks and elevate teacher voices, and we commend the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for their forward-thinking commitment to support these efforts.

The Rural Imperative Initiative is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation in partnership with RSC, NREA, & CFO. This initiative will amplify the voices of rural teachers through the following ways: create Regional Policy Playbooks advocacy recommendations, expand the I Am a Rural Teacher Campaign, strengthen efforts to retain younger rural teachers, engage leaders in broadband advocacy leading up to the 2021 National Rural Education Association conference, and leverage opportunities for rural educators in America to connect with rural educators across the world.

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