White House Rural Council Blog

  • Creating Opportunity for All in Rural Communities

    Rural America provides the vast majority of food and energy benefits for the rest of the country, is the source of nearly 90 percent of renewable water resources, and is home to important service sector and manufacturing hubs. Despite this critical role in our nation’s economy, too many Americans in rural areas are not sharing in our nation’s economic growth.

    In 2013, 6.2 million Americans in rural areas lived in poverty, including about 1.5 million children. Moreover, in far too many of these communities, high rates of poverty have persisted for generations: Over 300 rural counties have had poverty rates of over 20 percent in every Census since 1980.

    While the fight to eliminate poverty is far from over, today, as part of the White House Rural Council’s ongoing efforts to address rural child poverty, we released a report that finds that programs like refundable tax credits, Social Security, SNAP, and housing assistance lifted about 9.0 million rural people out of poverty in 2013, including about 1.6 million children.

  • Rural Communities Rising to the (i6) Challenge

    The American innovative and entrepreneurial spirit has long provided a foundation for our strong economy. This is no less true in rural regions.

    In its new form as part of EDA’s Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS) Program, the 2014 i6 Challenge aimed to make targeted, strategic investments in a broader range of communities.

    Of the more than 240 applications that EDA received for RIS Program funds, rural and other non-metropolitan communities represented a substantial subset of both the i6 Challenge and the Cluster Grants for Seed Capital Funds competition.

    EDA recently announced the 2014 grantees for these competitions, and a number of rural applicants submitted compelling proposals to catalyze innovation-based economic development in their communities. In light of President Obama’s recent announcement of the i6 Rural Challenge, we want to highlight some of the 2014 RIS Program’s rural grantees.

    These grantees stand out not only for having identified underutilized or unconnected resources but also for developing promising programs to help utilize those resources, to connect them to rural innovators and entrepreneurs, and ultimately to stimulate the creation and growth, from the ground up, of sustainable, job-creating companies.

  • Embracing Technology to Support Healthy Kids in Rural America

    Rural children living in poverty face a range of health and human service needs, yet often lack access to quality clinical and social, human, child development and family support services. The implications are stark. A newly released HHS chartbook shows that rural children face greater health risks and are less likely to get preventive care, compared to their suburban and urban counterparts.  

    Children receiving a preventive medical care visit in the previous year

    HHS, in partnership with the White House Rural Council's new “Rural Impact” effort to combat rural child poverty, is exploring innovative new strategies to better serve rural kids and families. Today, HHS's Federal Office of Rural Health Policy is announcing new funding to bridge the gap between rural families and critical health and social services. The program—totaling $2.8 million over three years—will support telehealth technology linking children in rural communities to medical specialists and social service resources that may not be available locally.  

    Imagine: a child living in a remote rural community can be seen and diagnosed for autism over the internet by a specialist based hundreds of miles away.

    Or a child with diabetes can receive primary care at their rural health clinic and then connect remotely to an endocrinologist in another city.  At the same time, his family can receive nutrition counseling and, if food security is a challenge, be directed to a food bank.

  • $1 Billion Invested in Rural Health Care Across 13 States

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted on the U.S. Department of Agriculture's blog. See the original post here.

    In late 2011, the President announced a White House Rural Council initiative lead by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to invest in rural health and link rural doctors and hospitals to financing for health IT. The initiative was designed to address the need for financing to support the adoption of health IT systems in rural communities. Financing has been cited as one of the top challenges for rural doctors and hospitals serving remote and poor communities.

    Between 2012 and 2014, the HHS and USDA led initiative generated approximately $1 Billion in rural health care financing across 13 states. These investments, funded by USDA, included grants and loans to help rural clinics and hospitals transition from paper to electronic health records (EHRs), encourage exchange of health information with health care providers and patients, and offer telehealth services.

    Since it launched in 2012, the initiative has expanded access to financing for rural health care needs through cross-government collaboration and partnerships with non-Government organizations—including bringing together diverse teams to achieve common goals and using existing programs in innovative ways.

  • Serving Rural America’s Kids and Families

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted on the U.S. Department of Agriculture's blog. See the original post here.

    Every parent’s wish is for their children to thrive and prosper. Yet, too many of our nation’s families still live in poverty, despite doing their best to make ends meet. Rural families and children have additional challenges as schools, health care services, healthy food choices, jobs, and other opportunities are often miles away in a different town, county, or even state. The Obama administration is committed to these families, and believes that all children — no matter where they live — should have an opportunity to succeed.

    Today, President Obama and I met with eight members of the National 4-H community in the Oval Office. Each one of them had an inspiring story about how they are opening up new doors for kids in their hometowns, and how this work is building stronger communities where they can learn, play, and grow.

    We wanted to take a moment to introduce you to these young leaders and tell you about the projects that encouraged President Obama to invite them to the White House to say “thank you.” Investing in kids like these is an investment in America’s future.

  • Opportunity for All: White House Rural Council Launches “Rural Impact” Effort to Help Rural Children and Families Succeed

    Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack serves Des Moines, IA McCombs Middle School student Miracle Kizer

    Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack serves Des Moines, IA McCombs Middle School student Miracle Kizer from the fruit line at the after-school meal program offered by the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Iowa at McCombs Middle School in Des Moines, IA, on Thursday, Apr. 9, 2015. (USDA Photo by Laura Crowell)

    President Obama believes that every child should have an opportunity to succeed. Yet some rural kids are falling behind—or worse, starting behind. A full 85 percent of our country’s persistent poverty counties are in rural America. Lack of opportunity for rural kids and families is often compounded by other challenges, including distance from health and early learning programs, lack of access to public transportation, and higher rates of drug and substance abuse, among others. But for all kids, the road to successful adulthood relies on a strong foundation of access to basic health, nutrition, high-quality early education, strong schools, and support from parents and caregivers.

    Rural Impact is a new effort from the White House Rural Council to address the challenge of rural child poverty by bringing together federal agencies and public and private resources. Rural Impact focuses primarily on a multi-generational approach to how public and private resources are invested in rural families and communities. With support from the President, Cabinet officials, universities, foundations, non-profits and community groups, Rural Impact will focus primarily on three major areas:

    1. Innovation: Developing new approaches of program delivery, including integrated services and remote health and learning technology, to address rural challenges and barriers;
    2. Awareness: Enhancing public awareness of rural child poverty and its impact on the future of rural communities and our nation’s global competitiveness; and
    3. Investment: Improving access to high-quality child care, early learning, and continuing education, and making work pay.