Exploring the Unique Contributions of Rural Serving Institutions

The Rural Serving Institutions Affinity Network is actively engaging with institutions committed to supporting rural communities and students, offering opportunities for connection, dialogue, and collaboration to address the unique challenges and opportunities in rural education.

Rural serving institutions are integral to the fabric of today’s higher education landscape and play a vital role in educating students.  Over the past eighteen months, the Rural Serving Institutions Affinity Network has been exploring these institutions' unique opportunities and responsibilities to the communities in which they reside.  The Affinity Network has been meeting regularly to hear from various speakers about how institutions can develop creative solutions for supporting rural communities. 

The Affinity Network continues to grow and would welcome participation from any institutions that self-identify as rural serving. In the upcoming month or so, we will have a few exciting opportunities to connect with other campuses that are invested in working in rural spaces.  May 1st is the regularly scheduled Affinity Network meeting to discuss the latest data on rural students in America. Registration for the Affinity Network meeting can be found here: https://events.compact.org/rural-affinity-network

For campuses that are centering their work around supporting both rural communities and the rural student experience, we are offering - Transcending Institutional Boundaries: Transformative Experiential Learning Opportunities in Rural Communities that will be held virtually on May 8th.  This panel will explore the growing movement to offer community-oriented, place-based, meaning-centered learning opportunities in rural, sometimes remote, locations. In addition, the panel will discuss growing concerns that universities are disconnected from rural issues, ill-equipped to support rural students, and contributing to the urban/rural partisan divide. In this webinar, participants will explore ways colleges and universities can connect with domestic rural communities by engaging with rural educators active in community-oriented learning. Registration for the webinar can be found here:  https://events.compact.org/transcending-institutional-boundaries-rural-communities

On May 22nd, Rural Conversations, a virtual convening to explore topics related to access and success for students, will be held.  Guest speakers include: 

  • Majorie Betley from the University of Chicago and the STARS Network to discuss rural first-year programs on campuses
  • Julia Cunningham from the United States Department of Education to share updates from around the country on how rural communities are utilizing federal resources to address community needs
  • Martin Vanderwerf from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce to discuss his findings on rural students and their workforce choices.

Registration for the convening can be found here: https://compactnh.formstack.com/forms/rural_conversation_virtual_registration

By fostering a sense of community and shared purpose, the Rural Serving Institutions Affinity Network continues to help empower participants to effect meaningful change and positively impact the lives of students, families, and communities in rural areas. Through collaboration and collective action, the network can amplify the voices of rural-serving institutions, advocate for policy changes, and cultivate innovative solutions to address rural education's complex needs and realities.