Resources for press and media to share the challenges and successes of rural people

The Rural Democracy Initiative network supports the efforts of more than 125 groups working in 25 states as they transform the lives of people in rural communities, towns, and small cities. We can connect press and content creators with community leaders, engaging storytellers, subject matter experts, and people with newsworthy experiences in rural America.

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Rural Democracy Initiative Executive Director

Sarah Jaynes

Sarah grew up in a small town on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state and began her career organizing on climate issues in rural communities.

She’s been a trailblazer in the progressive movement. Sarah led the development of one of the first state progressive donor networks—Washington’s Progress Alliance—and has coached emerging donor alliances from Alaska to New Hampshire to Alabama.

Sarah’s an innovator, obsessed with winning, and may be the nicest person in politics. She’s dedicated 30 years to working for shared prosperity, democracy, and a healthy environment. When she’s not working, Sarah is raising four kids and enjoying the spectacular Washington mountains.

Sarah Jaynes’s Editorials

People in rural communities offer newsworthy stories showcasing what it looks like when rural people work together to improve our communities

Grantee Stories

Youth Organizing in Georgia

Georgia has placed obstacles to voting, making it harder for people to participate in elections. To overcome these obstacles and ensure robust civic engagement, Rural Democracy sees a huge opportunity for youth organizing and groups like Collective Renaissance Georgia, which engages young people in rural areas and small cities, supports emerging leaders, and builds Black political power.

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Swiftly mobilizing to support community in East Palestine

River Valley Organizing is based in East Palestine and documenting local residents’ experiences, helping to raise their voices and take action for immediate solutions.

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Helping Rural Schools to Thrive

School districts in Wisconsin faced right-wing attacks, and over 16 recall attempts focused on manipulating and driving hysteria around issues like Critical Race Theory and COVID vaccines. When regressive forces sought to create anger over COVID protections and curriculum that acknowledges the history of racism, the Wisconsin Public Education Network responded by supporting communities and school districts across the state. The organizing worked, and public education prevailed against the attacks.

Helping Rural Schools to Thrive

Rural Numbers

RDI supports work that shines a light on the reality of rural America. This includes the challenges small cities and rural areas face, the demographics of the people who live there, and the policies and priorities rural people care about. For rural communities to receive the resources and support they need, they have to be seen and understood.

25 point

swing for rural voters age 18 to 29 from 2016-2018

24%

are Black, Indigenous, and people of color

1/10

rural counties are majority Black, Indigenous, and people of color

64%

support “Expand Medicare to cover All Americans”

Photo: Barbara Jordan Leadership Institute