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Policies That Make a Difference

Give rural people the tools to make a difference in their lives and communities.



SECURED HISTORIC FUNDING for rural broadband by supporting organizations advocating for local, state, and national solutions

HELPED FEDERAL PROGRAMS MAKE A LOCAL IMPACT with new infrastructure, economic development, and public health programs

WON POLICY CHANGES that support small businesses, family farms, and control over local land use while curtailing the power of monopolies

Poder NC

SUPPORTED RURAL-URBAN COALITIONS to establish education curricula, public health policies, and school budgets that prepare students for success

Wisconsin Farmers Union

ESTABLISHED AND DEFENDED FOUNDATIONAL PRO-DEMOCRACY POLICIES, such as voting rights, fair districting, and Tribal recognition



We support rural communities to advance and enact policy solutions that bring shared prosperity across race and geography. The RDI network includes groups focusing on various issues, including farming, climate, housing, health, workers, and small businesses. These rural groups advocate for their communities, write and research policy, and ensure effective implementation. The network establishes life-changing policies in rural towns, small cities, and states, as well as at the federal level.


Legislation won’t pass the U.S. Senate without rural support — 25% of the U.S. population controls 60% of the Senate. In states like Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, over 40% of voters are in small towns and rural areas. And in many states, gerrymandered districts give rural voters disproportionate power to affect outcomes. 

Beyond counting votes, coalitions that unite rural and urban communities in common cause create the power to hold government officials accountable and neutralize the messages that try to divide us. For example, The Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (Iowa CCI) helped defeat a state bill that would have diverted $55 million from Iowa public schools. Iowa CCI’s long-term, year-round investment in rural leadership was key to this victory.


Rural voters support ambitious policy and system change. Polling shows non-metro voters support the government ensuring health coverage for all Americans, equal pay for women, and policies that prioritize working people. When we combine good policy with compelling communications and local organizing, we build support for programs that provide people in rural communities the tools to succeed. 


Many rural priorities are also important for urban communities. People most directly impacted, including people from rural communities, must help design the policy solutions. For example, working families struggle to find affordable, safe, and stable housing in both rural and urban areas. Yet, the differences in population density, availability of private capital, sewer and water infrastructure, and scale of local government planning resources mean that the solutions differ in rural and urban communities.

Rural Voters Agree on the Issues

  • The choice of whether or not to have an abortion should be up to the woman and her family, not the government (75%)
  • Government policies should benefit working people, not corporations (85%)
  • Lawmakers should be banned from ever becoming paid lobbyists (78%)
  • Government should ensure health coverage for all Americans (54%)

March 2020. National survey of 1.213 Americans by Change Research and commissioned by



Our Rural Policy Action Report provides a roadmap to ensure all working families, no matter where they live or the color of their skin, have the opportunity and tools to build a good life and strengthen their communities. Advocates created the report by working directly with rural communities, and they have shared the report widely with policy makers, elected officials, and key decision makers in the Biden Administration. Our leaders have responded, through Executive and Congressional action, to enact key recommendations from the report and make the most significant investments in rural America in our lifetimes. Key policy wins include: 

  1. American Rescue Plan Act – Real Recovery, A Foundation for All Working Families and All Communities
  2. Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act – Essential Tools that Small Businesses, Family Farmers, and Local Communities Need to Thrive
  3. Postal Service Reform Act – A Lifeline for Rural America
  4. Key Executive Action – Prioritizing Funding for Rural Communities, Promoting Opportunity and Competition, Rebuilding Supply Chains, and Diversifying Leadership to Reflect All Americans
  5. Bipartisan Innovation Act – Bringing Back Manufacturing Jobs to America to Reduce Costs and Secure Our Economy
  6. Inflation Reduction Act – Lowering Costs of Healthcare and Energy, Securing A Cleaner and Healthier Future for All Communities
Federal Policy Progress


The RDI network secured several foundational pro-democracy policies, such as fair districting and Tribal recognition in Alaska. Our grantees led successful efforts to beat back the worst of the worst voter suppression and gerrymandering in places like Missouri, Georgia, Ohio, Kansas, and Montana. The network supports working families and successfully blocked an attempt to reduce the eligibility for Medicaid in Missouri, secured a minimum wage increase in Michigan, and established a new program for home repairs in Pennsylvania.


In communities across the country, RDI supported our grantees to mobilize and use federal funding on projects that directly address community priorities, including Progress North's success in providing childcare to working familiesNorthern Plains Resource Council reducing greenhouse emissions, and Institute for Local Self-Reliance report on small business support and broadband.


RDI launched the Rural Climate Partnership (RCP) to elevate, support, and inspire rural-led climate solutions. RCP centers hard-working people, small businesses, and family farmers as the drivers of local economies and engines of climate narrative transformation. RCP utilizes a place-based, sustainable jobs and economic development strategy to empower communities to protect what they love about where they live and build strong communities where young people want to make permanent homes.


We fund organizations with innovative strategies that test ideas and try new tactics. We learn from our grantees and facilitate opportunities for grantees to learn from each other. 




Drawing on the work of our network, RDI creates materials to support grantees. RDI’s Federal Resources Toolkit provides an overview of recently established programs and how people can access them.


We update our network on policy debates, share calls to action, and celebrate successes. When Biden issued an executive order promoting competition, we shared analysis from the RDI network.


We frequently convene learning spaces for our grantees, donors, and partners. RDI-grantee United Today, Stronger Tomorrow led a well-received workshop on Directing Federal Funds. They shared examples from recent powerful campaigns, how to determine a local project and strategy, and ways to use the campaigns to build a permanent base that holds elected officials accountable.

Our policy work creates a foundation for effective communications and a winning network.



The RDI network drives effective communications by establishing local trusted messengers, reaching people through local press, and showing the connection between national talking points and local impacts. We collaborate on narrative, opinion research, and communications.




Our network of over 100 groups and leaders will engage hundreds of thousands of people in rural areas, small towns, and small cities to change major local, statewide, and national policy and political outcomes and increase their energy and influence heading into 2024.