Introducing: The Rural Youth Catalyst Project

By Kim Phinney and Kathy Moxon

As former Rural Assembly Steering Committee members, we are excited to officially launch the Rural Youth Catalyst Project as an independent working group aligned with the Rural Assembly.

Working nationally, the Rural Youth Catalyst Project aims to strengthen and create opportunities that allow rural and Native youth to realize their hopes and dreams while remaining in or returning to their communities. 

We work across all aspects of youth development but carry a specialized focus on rural and Native opportunity youth.

This new endeavor allows us to expand and realign our work to serve rural and Native young people, programs, and their communities more broadly than one particular funder or model.

We believe that when given the opportunity, rural and Native young people want meaningful leadership, real work and to contribute their skills and service to their communities.

We seek to:
● Change popular perception of rural and Native young people.
● Build the leadership and representation of rural and Native youth at the regional and national level.
● Strengthen the capacity of local practitioners to design programs to meet the needs of rural and Native young people.
● Pilot innovative solutions to persistent barriers that can be replicated across rural
● Change the indicators used to measure what success looks like for rural young people and their communities.
● Influence and shape policy to meet the needs of rural and Native youth.

Learn more about our work below and in the coming weeks. For additional information or to collaborate with us please contact Kim Phinney and Kathy Moxon. Kim can be reached at and 802-922-2274. You’ll find Kathy at and 707-498-9502. 


Recent RYCP Collaborations

We were excited to serve on the panel of judges for the Rural Tech Project U.S. Department of Education Challenge and to be reminded of all the fantastic and innovative work happening in rural schools across the country.

Congratulations to the five finalist teams in the #RuralTechProject, a $600,000 U.S. Department of Education challenge to advance technology education. From June to October, the Department invited high schools and local educational agencies to propose technology education programs that use competency-based distance learning. Learn about the finalist teams’ innovative programs to increase tech skills development in their communities at  Rural Tech Project.

Rural Youth Catalyst Project was honored to be part of the studio design team for Ed Design Lab newest venture called BRIDGES RURAL which seeks to address the following design challenge:

How might we strengthen the capacity of rural community colleges to serve as critical economic growth engines for their learners and communities?

Education Design Lab, a national nonprofit and leader in the design, implementation, and scaling of new learning models for higher education and the future of work,  announced the selection of five rural community colleges who will participate in piloting solutions to the challenge. They include: Washington State Community College (OH), Zane College (OH), College of Eastern Idaho (ID), Eastern Maine Community College (ME), and Finger Lakes Community College (NY). Congratulations to those community colleges.
Selected through a national search and invitation-only RFP and funded with support from a $1.9 million grant from Ascendium Education Group, the colleges will work with Education Design Lab over the next three years to design, test, and scale post-secondary approaches that support the economic agility of rural learners and build the capacity of rural community colleges to be drivers of economic growth in their communities.
The community colleges, using Design Thinking will develop and pilot new pathways to postsecondary attainment and economic opportunity in rural communities. Throughout the design challenge, engagement of regional collaboratives and dissemination of learnings, models, tools, and practices will ensure that the impact of this work extends beyond the initial pilot programs.
“This work is about enabling rural community colleges to create innovative approaches focused on the value that these institutions and communities bring to their learners—unlocking greater economic opportunity and agility for the populations they serve,” said Kathleen deLaski, founder and CEO of Education Design Lab. “These five community colleges bring a diverse group of core team members to the table, from large national employers, to local chambers and small business development teams. The learnings from this first cohort will pave the way for other rural institutions as they look at building upon the strengths of their communities.”
At the conclusion of the design challenge, the five colleges will pilot new approaches focused on building the capacity of rural community colleges to respond to the needs of students and the unique rural and remote regions they serve. The Education Design Lab will draw on insights from the collective experiences of the rural community college partners to publish a brief that articulates the evolving needs of the rural learner population and showcases exemplar models that bring economic opportunity to rural communities.
We at Rural Youth Catalyst look forward to tracking their progress.

Beyond the Clock: Savannah Barrett

Beyond the Clock is a monthly digital learning exchange and happy hour for rural connectors and cultural workers hosted by Department of Public Transformation and Voices for Rural Resilience, in partnership with the Rural Assembly. This month’s creative learning exchange event will take place on Tuesday, February 13th from 4-5pm CST with special guest, Savannah Barrett!

Read More »

Opportunity Roundup | January 2024

Looking for ways to grow in your skills and knowledge this year? You may be interested in applying for one of the following opportunities we’ve received recently in our Rural Assembly inbox.

Read More »