Civic life is a cornerstone of the American experience

Taking part in civic life moves Americans from feeling like things are happening to them, to believing things are happening because of them.

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A healthy democracy is more
than politics

Vibrant civic life leads Americans to believe that a better future is possible and their participation helped create it. When greater investments go into improving the civic opportunities within a local community, the results are clear: America has economies that are built for the future, local culture where everyone belongs, and a stronger, more resilient democracy.

Our three core activities — grantmaking, networking, and learning — are all informed and created with the expertise and insights of the local communities and leaders that are closest to the work. Because of them, we are able to discover local funding opportunities, facilitate philanthropic investments, and learn what it takes for civic life to thrive from the ground up.

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Linking national philanthropy to rural regions

The Trust invests in regions that are full of opportunities for impact, but are often overlooked by national philanthropy. These areas are historically underserved, experiencing persistent poverty or rapid economic or demographic transition. Within these communities are resourceful groups and individuals eager to respond to local challenges with creative solutions and a vision for change.

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In 2024, we are focusing our grantmaking on the Black Belt, Central Appalachia, Tribal Lands, Southwest Border, and communities in transition in the rural U.S.

Our priority regions

The Black Belt

The rich cultural heritage of the Black Belt region serves as a unifying force, inspiring creativity and innovation among its residents as they navigate the enduring effects of its plantation history.

Central Appalachia

In Central Appalachia, mistrust has compounded over many generations. There is little desire to work with outside institutions following a long history of natural resource extraction and subsequent coal mine closures, and outside efforts to improve the region are often looked at with skepticism.

Tribal Lands

There are 574 federally recognized Tribal Nations across the United States, each one with its own distinct governing structure and cultural history. Even if they share the same region, Tribal communities experience vastly different economic realities and varying levels of access to essential services like healthcare.

Southwest Border

From El Centro, California to El Paso, Texas, the Southwest border communities are shaped by many multi-generational, multicultural, economic and civic complexities.

Communities in Transition

Across all parts of the country, many American communities are undergoing major economic or demographic transition.