The Community Change Working Group was formed to connect community leaders, policy makers and funders with resources, stories, and tools that others have successfully utilized to strengthen their communities.

Our mission is to assist

  • Communities to access knowledge and expertise to help guide them to be more successful in Community Change initiatives
  • Professionals in the field to share knowledge and expertise to sharpen and improve the program delivery identifying areas where additional research and knowledge is needed to improve our practice
  • Foundations to understand where to invest for the most impact, and
  • Policymakers to understand the need for policy changes which assist communities to lead successful change efforts.

We define Community Change as “community and economic development approaches which include design and launch of initiatives, facilitation of strategic efforts, and development of shared measurement systems in an effort to sustain and scale long-term systemic change and impact in the community, in keeping with CDS’s “Principles of Good Practice.”

To find out more about our work, see:

About Us and Our Policy Objectives

Rural communities across our country are striving to either remain, or become, resilient in the face of shifting political, social, environmental and economic times. Community leaders are seeking answers to questions like: What would it look like if our community had the capacity to remain strong, and become stronger, when tested? How do we recognize and capitalize on our community assets to proactively evolve and build strength from within? How have others been successful when faced with similar challenges?

While these communities all have unique challenges and assets, we also recognize that there is much to learn and leverage from each other. There is a real need to connect community leaders with the resources, stories and tools that others have utilized with success. Therefore, the Community Change Working Group developed and launched the online “go to” resource with the Community Change Resource Bank. It offers a variety of resources highlighting successful examples of Community Capital, Economic Development, and Wealth Creation initiatives housed in an innovative, collaborative online approach to community-based problem-solving, leadership, and policy development. This resource for assistance and expertise in Community Change, in addition to policy and research recommendations, is a resource that could serve as a matchmaking type of entity that matches expertise, services, information with those in need of assistance – making it easier for communities to access and utilize lessons learned in “Promising Practices” which have had success.

The need for this effort has been uncovered in ongoing previous dialogues, including the Community Change Network which was formed as a result of conversations involving the White House Staff, USDA and others working in Rural communities about the need for a central resource/clearinghouse for information to inform decision making around policy development, research and practice to assist rural communities to drive innovative change leading to community health and prosperity.

The policy objectives of the Community Change Working Group are:

  1. Provide a “go to” resource for knowledge on successful community change approaches, which can be used by policy makers and communities in establishing policy for successful community change initiatives.
  2. Communicate policy recommendations into window of opportunities.    
  3. Communicate value of systemic approaches to Community Change to funding agencies.
  4. Communicate effective evaluation processes for Community Change – Policy development on how to measure effectiveness.


  • Whitney Kimball Coe, Karen Fasimpaur, Center for Rural Strategies
  • Sharon Gulick, University of Missouri-Extension ExCEED Program
  • Mary Emery, South Dakota State University
  • Brent Hales, University of Minnesota
  • Connie Loden, The New North
  • Bonnie Peterson, Juneau County Economic Development Corporation
  • Andrea Salina, Fairmont Community Development Partnership
  • Milan Wall, Heartland Center for Leadership Development
  • Norman Walzer, Northern Illinois University

How to Participate

You can sign up for updates on our work here, and you can also subscribe to email alerts from the National Rural Assembly, which includes information about community change, as well as other rural issues.

To contact the Community Change Working Group with additional questions, comments, or membership interest, email Karen Fasimpaur at karen at ruralxchange dot net.

We would also welcome your additions to the Community Change Resource Bank or thoughts about how you would like to see this resource evolve.