Rural Investment and Prosperity Project

Rural Forward

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Project Overview

Rural Forward identifies, strengthens, supports leaders to make rural counties healthier and thriving.

Rural Forward envisions healthier, more sustainable rural communities with increased capacity to solve their own health problems. With an overall goal of improving the major health indicators in North Carolina over the next ten years, Rural Forward carries out its mission to build capacity and develop resources that amplify the impact of rural leaders, organizations, and coalitions.


Why It Matters

Rural Forward was created in 2014 to support the nonprofit, clinical, and human service sectors within the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust’s Healthy Places NC (HPNC) initiative. As we continue to support HPNC counties, we have also expanded our services across North Carolina, the US South, and at the national level. No matter scope, we are focused on supporting individual leaders, organizations, and coalitions with the capacity building, strategic planning, coaching, facilitation, and resource development tools they need to:

  • Strengthen their skills as individual leaders to vision and manage effectively;
  • Build the capacity and sustainability of their organizations to fulfill their missions and improve their communities; and,
  • Network efforts within and beyond the county that promote the long-term health of rural NC.


Our Work

Rural Forward provides these services: Facilitation and documentation; Leadership support and coaching; Evaluation support; Fund development coaching; Conflict management; Resource management; Training and skills building; Strategy development; Policy support; Relationship brokering

Key issues Rural Forward helps rural communities address: Healthy Eating; Active Living; Access to Care; Behavioral Health; Disaster Recovery; Social Determinants of Health.


Place-Based Work: Kate B. Charitable Trust – Healthy Places NC

Residents in rural North Carolina communities are less likely to have access to health services and have a lower life expectancy than their urban neighbors. That’s why the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust has invested up to $100 million through Healthy Places NC to improve the health of the residents of the state’s rural counties. While each county is unique, Healthy Places NC’s outcome-focused, community-driven process remains the same: start by listening; build on assets; engage unlikely partners; and employ a county-by-county strategic approach to the work.


Beyond Local for Local

We also strive to bring resources and opportunities to our core rural NC communities. Regional, state, and national projects are better with local voice, community input, and direct methods for interaction. Selected current and past projects include:

  • NC Inclusive Disaster Recovery Network
  • Earned Income Tax Credit Uptake Research in Rural NC
  • SECU Rural Intern Program
  • Thrive Rural
  • Employment Equity in Rural NC

Outcomes of Rural Forward NC’s work include:

  • Stronger local leadership and skills
  • Stronger strategic plans
  • Greater focus for community collaborations and partnerships
  • More inclusive efforts in community initiatives
  • Stronger evaluation measures
  • Greater access to local, regional, statewide, and national resources

If you are interested in more on this program, please contact Senior Program Director, Brandy Bynum Dawson.

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Contact the Project Team

Brandy Bynum Dawson, Senior Program Director

Email Brandy Bynum Dawson