The Annie E. Casey Foundation, in partnership with Save the Children, StriveTogether, and Partners for Education at Berea College, has announced the launch of a "collective impact" initiative aimed at improving the lives of children in rural America.
Designed to address complex social challenges through a collaborative approach adapted to the unique needs and interests of rural communities, the Rural Accelerator Initiative will combine leadership development, strategic investments, local partnerships, and peer learning to ensure that children in rural communities start kindergarten school-ready, receive a quality education, and graduate from high school ready for a career or higher education. To that end, investments by the partnership totaling $1.2 million over three years will support pilot efforts in three communities — Perry and Whitley counties in Kentucky, and Cocke County, Tennessee — that are working to change local systems and improve outcomes for children, with a focus on early developmental milestones related to kindergarten-readiness and third-grade reading and math proficiency.
"We know we can achieve more by working together than apart and have proof from nearly seventy communities across the country that the collective impact of organizations working across sectors can influence outcomes for every child," said StriveTogether president and CEO Jennifer Blatz. "We are excited to bring our proven approach to this initiative and are proud to be part of a landmark effort to accelerate results for youth and families in rural America."
"We are grateful to our partners for their support, skills, and knowledge and look forward to working together to empower communities to create a successful cradle-to-career pathway for every child in rural America," said Save the Children vice president for U.S. programs and advocacy Betsy Zorio. "It's our ambition to take these learnings and scale to support the nearly two and half million children growing up in poverty in rural communities."