It’s Time for a Strategy on Rural Philanthropy, Not Just Shaming

Last year Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack spoke to the National Rural Assembly and attracted attention when he criticized philanthropy for its lack of commitment to rural America.

By all accounts, foundation support to rural communities has dropped ever since 2011, when the USDA signed an agreement with the Council on Foundations that was supposed to encourage more grant makers to put money into rural causes. Rural philanthropy now accounts for less than 7 percent of the total that grant makers give every year, even though 20 percent of Americans live in rural places.

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