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Re-committing to Rural America: The Expanding Crisis of Rural Poverty and Its Effects Carla Roberts Fremont Area Community Foundation.

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Presentation on theme: "Re-committing to Rural America: The Expanding Crisis of Rural Poverty and Its Effects Carla Roberts Fremont Area Community Foundation."— Presentation transcript:


2 Re-committing to Rural America: The Expanding Crisis of Rural Poverty and Its Effects Carla Roberts Fremont Area Community Foundation

3 Fremont Area Community Foundation serves Newaygo County, Michigan Rural county of 48,000 residents in 23 townships, four small cities, and one village Poverty rate at 18.3% above the both MI (16.3%) and national (14.3%) Educational attainment at 22.3% below state (36.8%) and national (38.3%) achievement rates Unemployment rate at 7.2% just below MI (7.4%) and below the national (6.3%) rates

4 Assets in Newaygo County Michigan Home of Gerber Baby Food, now part of global company Nestle Nutrition Significant personal wealth created in the past—at one point Fremont had the largest concentration of millionaires in the county Abundant Natural Resources Forests, like the Manistee National Forest, produce an abundance of fresh air and abound with wild life, such as turkey, pheasant, and venison. Freshwater lakes and streams run clear, providing world class fly fishing habitats for steelhead, trout, and salmon. Fertile soils produce a rich variety of local food sources—like fresh vegetables and fruit.

5 Community Foundation Assets A Declaration, unique positioning document ( Over $225 M; among the largest per capita rural foundations in the US Trustees seeking greater impact with the courage to change Collaborative staff who work across departments for the greater good Earliest funds dating to 1933 are focused on vulnerable populations Harry Williams (shoes for all children) J. Andrew & Mattie Gerber (worthy poor & charity patients) Needs assessments, focus groups, and planning retreats (2003-2008) culminated in a strategic planning retreat in 2011 to forge a new path


7 Our Process Fellowships focused on studying past priorities and determining the impact of prior philanthropic investments Board & staff committees to explore new grantmaking approaches Investments in research studies and baseline data Vetting ideas with community partners Developing grantmaking frameworks Unveiling frameworks in a half-day workshop June 17

8 Priorities Outcomes Benchmarks Strategies Poverty to Prosperity Goal

9 Reduce the poverty rate in Newaygo County below national average within the next 10+ years. Poverty to Prosperity Goal

10 Self-sufficiency Develop efficient pathways to increase the level of self-sufficiency of individuals with potential by building on strengths Asset development Develop efficient pathways to help individuals build personal assets Social capital/empowerment Increase opportunities for individuals to build social networks, supportive relationships, and self-esteem Priorities Where we plan to focus our funding:

11 Self-sufficiency Improve wraparound services provided to struggling residents Increase % of residents receiving support for self-improvement, independence, and self-efficacy Increase the number of residents that become independent from assistance/level of self-sufficiency Decrease the total dollar amount of direct basic assistance residents are receiving Improve collaborative services to reach more young adults Asset development Build financial capital*/assets of residents Build physical capital*/assets of residents Build human capital*/assets of residents Improve budgeting skills and financial literacy Improve credit scores and access to credit Social capital*/empowerment Increase mentoring and relational support Improve how connected and supported residents feel in their communities, strengthen relationships Increase self-esteem and sense of empowerment among struggling residents to make positive life changes Outcomes Desired results: *Financial capital: monetary resources (savings, credit, loan capital, emergency funds, investments) *Physical capital: property (housing/home ownership, vehicles, business property) *Human capital: knowledge, skills and abilities of individuals or groups (educational degrees/certificates, training, life skills) *Social capital: the networks of relationships and social connections among people who live in a particular community which enable them to function effectively and encourage social cooperation

12 Self-sufficiency 1 Establish clear roadmap for self-sufficiency through agency collaboration 1 Number of residents receiving self-sufficiency services 2 Average self-sufficiency level 2 Average income, employment status, level of education 3 Number of residents moved off direct assistance (reach self-sufficiency) 3 Dollar amount spent on direct assistance *Poverty rate compared to national average *Number of residents living below self-sufficiency level *Opportunity score (+ components such as inequality, youth inclusion) Asset development 1 Number of residents that receive financial education and counseling 1 Number of residents that receive low-interest loan/start saving 2 Level of financial literacy/credit score 2 Number/percentage of residents that successfully repay loan 2 Level of savings/improvement in savings behavior 2 Number/percentage of residents that meet savings goal & acquire asset Social capital/empowerment 1 Number of events held and new methods developed for residents to build relationships 1 Number of residents taking advantage of mentoring/advocacy services 2 Level of connection/how supported residents feel 2 Level of community engagement 3 Level of self-esteem/sense of empowerment among residents Benchmarks Possible indicators that our community is making progress: 1 Short-term: (6 months–1 year) 2 Intermediate term: (1-3 years) 3 Long-term: (2-5 years) *Extended term: (track up to 10+ years)

13 Self-sufficiency Provide wrap-around services to meet basic needs plus tailored personal development coaching and support (ex: food trucks + nutritional skills development) Encourage long-term personal investment (ex: provide flexible zero-interest microloans for immediate needs paired with long- term savings guidance) Infrastructure to support poverty reduction (transportation) Asset development Personal asset-building network with financial counseling (ex: Individual Development Accounts) Microloans/micro-investing for small business or social/micro- enterprise Social capital/empowerment Build peer support/social networks to increase sense of community/build relationships Build mentoring network with Prosperity Advocates to build on strengths and provide relational support Engage residents to increase their voice, power, community participation, ownership of community assets, and to learn from them Strategies Some suggestions for community partners:

14 Self-sufficiency Asset development Social capital/empowerment Priorities Improve wraparound services Increase self-sufficiency (average level, # served) Build personal assets (financial, physical, human, social) Increase mentoring and relational support Strengthen relationships, increase self-esteem/empowerment Improve collaborative services to reach more young adults Outcomes Poverty rate compared to national average # living below self-sufficiency level, average self-sufficiency level Opportunity score (+ inequality & youth inclusion score) Level of self-esteem/sense of empowerment/engagement $ spent on direct assistance Benchmarks Wraparound services (foodtrucks) + personal development coaching Infrastructure (transportation) Personal asset-building network + financial counseling + microloans/microenterprise Mentoring network w/Prosperity Advocates/relational support Resident engagement Strategies Reduce local poverty rate below national average within 10+ years Where we plan to focus our funding: Desired results: Possible indicators that our community is making progress: Some suggestions for community partners:

15 Provided to Resource Center: Poverty Final Report Community & Economic Development Final Report Education Policy Brief Education Grantmaking Framework (Goal 2025) Community & Economic Development Grantmaking Framework Powerpoint (includes Poverty to Prosperity Grantmaking Framework)

16 Thank you for listening to our story!

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