Theory of Change

RSC's Board of Directors developed and approved this Theory of Change statement. Board action was taken in February of 2021.

Rural Schools Collaborative Theory of Change

A ​Theory of Change​ and ​Logic Model are often used interchangeably. However, they convey different but linked lenses. A Theory of Change often describes the big picture vision of the organization and connected elements while a ​Logic Model​ articulates the details of specific program areas. We are building a ​Theory of Change​ that includes some elements of logic models to help articulate need, activities/inputs, outputs, and long-term vision. ​Values ​are a critical component to help guide the process and are included below.

Mission Statement

Building sustainable rural communities through a keen focus on place, teachers, and philanthropy.


  1. Equity: ​We create space to amplify, seek leadership from, and include contribution from marginalized identities and communities.
  2. Relationships:​ We connect people and build relationships to foster collaborative success.
  3. Sparking ideas and starting small​: We believe that great ideas start small and grow big.
  4. Scale​: We support scalable practices.
  5. Letting go:​ We let go of projects that others are better poised to grow.
  6. Hope and possibility: ​We see unconditional positive regard for the potential of rural places.
  7. Doing:We do things that directly impact rural communities.

Need Statement

This is why Rural Schools Collaborative exists.

  1. Schools are decontextualized​. ​While schools are often central to rural communities, the core learning approach in schools is disconnected from the present and future condition of the community. We support scho​ols to link learning to place in order to change the future of the community.
  2. Rural teacher numbers are declining. ​It is getting harder to find quality teachers in rural spaces. We advocate for an abundance of high quality teaching in rural spaces.
  3. Funding levels are challenging. ​Rural schools are underfunded in high-poverty areas. We build resources and connections to support rural school community, regional philanthropy to fund innovative educational projects in schools.
  4. Teachers are professionally isolated: ​Rural schools and organizations are disconnected from each other. We connect rural schools and organizations around the nation.

Vision Statement

Every rural community​ has well-resourced ​schools ​(3)​ ​with ​empowered and talented teachers and leaders ​(2)​ ​who ​develop agency​ in young people to see a ​positive future in their community ​(1)​. Through a connected rural ​collaborative, ​high quality effective learning experiences are ​shared ​and ​scaled ​(4).

**​Note that each element of the vision statement has a number that links to the Need Statement above.

Initiatives to Activities

Rural Schools Collaborative fulfills its mission through the following initiatives.

1. Rural Hub Support and Launch: We support and connect organizations that advance and advocate for high quality rural education.

a. Rural Schools Collaborative Hubs

2. Rural Philanthropy: We provide resources and connections to create sustainable funding streams for rural hubs and surrounding schools and communities.

a. Grants in Place Program

b. Catalyst Fund

3. Rural Teacher Advocacy: We create and amplify the voice of rural schools and educators through our platforms.

a. I Am a Rural Teacher project

b. Young Educator’s Advisory Council

4. Rural Network: We connect rural teachers and school leaders through virtual and on-site meetings, collaboratives, partnerships, conferences, and programs.

a. Rural Teacher Corps programs

b. Place Network Schools Partnership

c. GRAD Partnership.


    By June 2025, Rural Schools Collaborative will have demonstrated success by achieving the following metrics.

    Metric 1: We will have increased our number of web users by 15% and increased our social media engagement metric by 25%.

    Metric 2: Each Regional Hub will have sustained at least one Rural Teacher Corps program, and the Rural Teacher Corps learning community will collectively train 300 or more highly prepared rural teacher-leaders each year.

      Metric 3: Our outgoing place-based rural investments will exceed $2 million.