Through SRDI's place-based initiatives, diverse coalitions are working across race, age, class, sector and strategy lines in rural communities to envision an optimistic future, implement sustainable development strategies, and advocate for essential public and private resources.These initiatives include:
Developed by SRDI in partnership with the Southeastern Council of Foundations, the Philanthropy Index is an organizing process that uses data, community self-knowledge and group process to build optimism about philanthropic potential in poor rural places. By using the Index, communities can create more "homegrown" philanthropic assets, and in the process, inspire inclusive visions about long-term community development.
The Index provides a step-by-step process for measuring a rural community's potential for creating a charitable fund. It uses data compiled from national sources like the IRS and the Census to measure the financial wealth that exists in households and businesses within the community.
It also poses a number of "Local Knowledge" questions that help measure the level of community involvement from individuals and businesses, and gauge the likelihood of community engagement in creating a charitable fund.
SRDI is piloting the Philanthopy Index in 30 communities throughout the rural South. We intend to have ten sites with at least $25,000 in initial assets and three sites with more than $100,000 in new funds by the end of 2005. To see what we've learned about building homegrown philanthropy, click here.
The Philanthropy Index website is buzzing, and already 3000 copies of the Philanthropy Index Guidebook have been distributed. See why by visiting:
We believe that rural communities pursue prisons out of desperation -- not choice. Many rural communities are in crisis mode today, reacting to a continuous and substantial loss of farm and manufacturing jobs. With traditional economic developers and politicians touting prisons, and community economic development practitioners unable to compete at scale, rural people believe they have no alternatives.
SRDI has taken on the job of helping rural communities articulate viable economic alternatives - pairing the wisdom and assets of community residents with the knowledge of our many partners at the state, regional and national levels.
During Phase I of this project, SRDI built a learning community of expertise that includes community organizers, economic development practitioners, anti-prison activists, sustainable agriculture specialists, environmental advocates, tourism experts, rural entrepreneurs, and policy analysts.
During Phase II, with a team of community, state and national players, we are helping organizers in Tallulah, Louisiana to convert a defunct juvenile prison into a community learning center.
To learn more about this amazing effort, visit the Articulating Alternatives Program page.
Significant parts of rural America are in trouble-and current federal policy focused on agriculture exacerbates the crisis. Though past efforts to substantially modify the agricultural commodity program have failed, changing perspectives and demographics in Congress, current fiscal conditions, and international trade pressure are increasing the odds that future cuts to subsidy programs will come.
The cuts, however, will not result in better targeted funds for rural America unless a compelling case is made that investing in rural America is important to the entire nation.
With its partners, SRDI is building a network of rural constituents focused on federal policy change. Using a community learning tool, we are providing targeted rural communities in the South with the data and support to:
- Understand the flows of federal funds in their communities;
- Examine those flows in the context of community needs and effective community/economic development strategies;
- Articulate effective and more appropriate uses of federal funds;
- Educate public officials; and
- Connect peer communities.
Read about the details of our Federal Funds Analysis Project here.