The National Rural Assembly is a movement of people and organizations devoted to building a stronger, more vibrant rural America for children, families, and communities. Participants include more than 500 local, regional, and national organizations based in 47 states and the District of Columbia. The goal of the National Rural Assembly is to make the country stronger by improving the outlook for rural communities. The guiding principle is that an inclusive, prospering, and sustainable rural America improves prospects for us all.
Participants in the National Rural Assembly include grassroots service and development groups, state and regional networks, and national associations focused on key rural policy areas such as health, education, community development, and conservation.
The National Rural Assembly provides an opportunity for rural leaders and their allies to unite in a common cause, advocating for common-sense policies that improve the outlook and results for rural places, people, cultures, and economies.
The Steering Committee of the National Rural Assembly constitutes the leadership of the Assembly and its unincorporated governance.
The composition of the Steering Committee grew out of the 2007 convening of the National Rural Assembly, which appointed a working group of organizations to make recommendations about future structure and activities. This group grew into the Steering Committee and has been expanded subsequently.
The following organizations currently serve on the National Rural Assembly Steering Committee:
- Center for Rural Strategies, Dee Davis, Chairperson
- Housing Assistance Council
- Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
- League of Rural Voters
- National Congress of American Indians
- National Rural Health Association
- Native CDFI Network
- NeighborWorks America
- Quitman County Development Organization
- Rural Policy Research Institute
- Sustainable Northwest
- YouthBuild, USA
- Redwood Coast Rural Action
The Steering Committee reaches decisions through a consensus-building process, reflecting the values and ideals expressed in the Rural Compact.
The Center for Rural Strategies serves as the fiscal agent for the Assembly and is responsible for programmatic and fiscal operations. The Center for Rural Strategies engages numerous organizational partners to carry out the work of the National Rural Assembly.
What is the National Rural Assembly?
The National Rural Assembly is a network of more than 500 organizations and individuals across the United States working collaboratively to build a stronger, more resilient rural America. We represent the diversity of rural American communities and leadership – from local governments and community-based nonprofits, to regional and national networks working in all areas of rural policy, to national nonprofits and associations.
The purpose the Assembly is to build a common, community-focused rural agenda based on participation of local, state, regional, and national rural leaders; empower rural leaders and their allies to educate policy makers about this agenda; and raise the national visibility of rural issues.
How can I participate?
- Endorse the Rural Compact, our central organizing document, which states the National Rural Assembly’s values and beliefs. And ask other individuals and organizations to consider endorsing the Rural Compact.
- Sign up to be a member and participant. By joining the National Rural Assembly, you’ll receive periodic updates on rural policy initiatives, funding opportunities, regional and national activities, and other rural news. You’ll also get information about specific actions you can take on behalf of better rural policy.
- Learn about the National Rural Assembly’s policy priorities through the Policy Opportunity Snapshots, covering policy recommendations in education, healthcare, conservation, and community investment.
- Learn more about working groups, which are addressing specific rural issues. Contact the National Rural Assembly or the chairperson of the working group to learn how you can get involved in these work groups.
What is the history of the National Rural Assembly?
The National Rural Assembly began as part of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Rural People, Rural Policy initiative in 2007. That year, 350 rural leaders convened outside Washington, D.C., and used an interactive decision-making and discussion process to identify key challenges and opportunities for effective rural policy.
A group of leaders emerged from this first convening to take these findings and make recommendations for further action. These groups formed into the National Rural Assembly Steering Committee. In 2008 the National Rural Assembly convened to endorse the Rural Compact and the Policy Opportunity Snapshots, which laid out policy recommendations for each of the four rural principles. In the following year, the Assembly presented these recommendations to the Executive and Legislative branches of the federal government and began laying plans for working to deepen policy makers’ knowledge about rural issues.
Activities have included national and regional gatherings (highlights from the last national gathering can be found here), Congressional hearings on key rural issues like broadband access and rural child poverty, engagement with other national policy advocacy coalitions like the Rural Climate Network, and a series of activities within the National Rural Youth Assembly including young professionals development meetings.
In the coming year, the National Rural Assembly will move forward with activities and events aimed at building a more inclusive nation, for all the people in all the places. We’ll focus on three key areas that strike at the heart of how we achieve more inclusive, sustainable communities: Kids + Climate + Connection.
How is the National Rural Assembly funded?
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation is the Assembly’s major funder.