The 2013 National Rural Assembly was held in Bethesda, Maryland, June 23-26. We had approximately 200 participants this year, representing rural organizations from across the country from various sectors, including, health, agriculture, education, investment, and philanthropy, as well as representatives from members of the Administration, Congress, and federal agencies.
The theme of this year’s conference and the Assembly going forward continues to be Building an Inclusive Nation. Secretary Vilsack’s recent commentary on the relevancy of rural America has captured the moment and focused rural practitioners on where our work fits in, and we plan to use that momentum to build on the theme of inclusive nation. Over the three days we offered a more progressive narrative for and about rural America that focuses heavily on the shifting demographics and political changes currently underway in our communities and the opportunities these changes present for rural in building a more sustainable and inclusive nation.
This year, we collaborated with the White House Rural Council on a portion of the meeting’s programming and secured Cabinet speakers and other representatives from the Administration to panels and breakout sessions. We worked with the Council to address topics that are of key importance to the rural communities, including rural sign-up in the new healthcare exchanges, our country’s response to climate change and growing energy needs, comprehensive immigration reform, and the role philanthropy plays as a catalyst for positive development in all its forms. Heavy federal participation in this year’s conference was a primary objective for the Rural Assembly Steering Committee, and the cross-section of officials certainly set our event apart from others in the field.
Another big topic at this year’s Assembly was a presentation on the state of rural philanthropy. Journalist Rick Cohen (Nonprofit Quarterly) led a presentation offering baseline data that gave us a clearer picture of how much funding is actually making it to rural areas. This meeting served as a platform to launch a national campaign to double rural philanthropy.
The following resources are available from this gathering: