Engaging rural people

Cultivating Trusted Messengers

Rural Democracy Initiative helps rural and small-town advocates unite our communities in shared values while leveraging the expertise of local messengers. We provide grantees with the latest communications research, best practices, and training opportunities to ensure local leaders are doing all they can to build trust and activate their neighbors, families, and friends. Putting rural people and working families front and center, we support community spokespeople to have everything they need to advocate for solutions in our communities.

Featured Program

Winning Jobs Narrative

The Winning Jobs Narrative and Toolkit provides a blueprint for compelling messaging about jobs, work, and the economy.

Somos Votantes field program uses Winning Jobs Narrative

Rural Democracy supports grantees uniting our communities with shared values and engaging, factual information.

Our Grantees

Pro-Democracy Digital News

By prioritizing factual, local coverage and elevating rural stories, COURIER is building trust in rural communities and changing the landscape of rural media.

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Supporting Local Papers

Through our investment in the Georgia Trust for Local News, more rural Georgians have robust local papers that cover their interests. With a portfolio of 18 newspapers, they serve 900,000 Georgians in communities across Middle and South Georgia.

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Building Trust

Through our support of Galvanize USA, women across the country have access to a network that builds community and trust, bolsters defense against disinformation, and spurs civic engagement. Their new subscriber community and research-driven communications based on neuroscience help women in rural areas, small towns, and suburban communities understand the challenges standing in the way of change in our country, communicate those issues with their neighbors, and vote in alignment with their values.

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Conversations Create Change

Rural conversations create ripples that impact national policy, and with the right tools and support, our grantees have made progress across the country. Effective communications and narratives paint real-life pictures that show how voter turnout improves rural lives. This helps build momentum for future policy action in rural communities across the country.

Main Street Alliance member Kyle LaFond, owner of American Provenance in rural Wisconsin

Community Messenger, Community Message

The best spokesperson understands the experiences of your community. This is especially true in rural communities where relationships are highly valued. We look to small business owners, family farmers, and other working people who understand the specific local challenges while also making significant contributions. People connect on common ground, and we trust people when we know they’ve walked a mile in our shoes. Even more so, when people use familiar and inviting language.

Rural Democracy grantees help trusted messengers connect national talking points to local issues, and communicate those issues to local reporters and editors who are often seeking local content. In addition, our grantees communicate directly with their audiences through social media, culturally relevant art, texting, email, yard signs, and billboards.

Seeing Rural

We are changing the conversation about who lives in rural communities and what we can achieve.

Rural Communicators Cohort

Our grantees told us they need communication training and leadership development for communications staff. We also saw that if groups deepened their communication capacity, they could better tell their powerful stories and engage a broader audience. That’s why we launched the Rural Communicators Cohort with twenty-one grantees. The program started with a convening in Minnesota to introduce the content and build strong cohort relationships, followed by a five-month virtual program, which included ten training sessions, coaching, study hours, and peer-led informal discussions.