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Making A Difference in Rural Schools Part 2 August 19, 2009

On Wednesday, August 19 at 2:00 p.m. the Community Foundation of the Ozarks (CFO) will officially launch the Rural Schools Partnership. CFO will present an overview of the Rural Schools Partnership and recognize businesses and organizations partnering with CFO to make the program possible. KSMU's Mike Smith has more about the initiative with this edition of Making a Difference Where You Live.

For this feature Mike SMith talks with CFO President Gary Funk, CFO Director of Communications Ryan Van Vibber, and Rural School and Community Trust Director of Communications Robert Mahaffee.

Schools play a critical role in the well-being of small communities and towns that serve as rural hubs, providing a focal point of activity, a sense of civic pride, and a reason for families to make their homes in these communities. Rural education is a linchpin issue for rural economic development.

Recognizing the overarching importance of schools to rural development, CFO’s board of directors has launched the Rural Schools Partnership, a comprehensive program to strengthen small school districts. The program resulted from a year-long planning process involving CFO’s regional committee, regional school leaders, affiliated foundation leadership, donors, and business people. The Rural Schools Partnership embraces three consensus-based strategies for strengthening rural schools:

• Develop alternative resources• Promote collaborations and partnerships• Support place-based education strategies

Program features include:

• The Harry Cooper Supply Company Campaign for the Ozarks Phase II, $250,000 in challenge grants for educational endowment building. Twenty-five school districts and community foundations will have an opportunity to raise $20,000 for academic-oriented endowments and receive a $10,000 match through this effort. • Providing professional development support for teachers and administrators through the Rural School and Community Trust’s Rural Schools Innovation Network.