The following is a statement from Matt Hildreth, Executive Director of RuralOrganizing…
We believe that the small town way of life is worth fighting for and that no one should have to choose between staying in their hometown and providing their family with opportunity, healthcare, and financial security. But for too long, Wall Street monopolies have rigged the economy and structural inequalities have held us back. As a result, in Rural America, wages have stagnated, good paying jobs have become harder to come by, and the already too high cost of living continues going up.
That’s why, together—with our sister organization, RuralOrganizing.org Education Fund (501c3)—we are launching a two-year campaign focused on passing local, state, and federal policies that create opportunities and improve the quality of life in America’s small towns and rural communities.
Right now, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to fight income inequality and grow prosperity in small towns and rural communities. We need bold federal programs that address persistent poverty—especially, on Native American lands, across the Southern “Black Belt,” in the Mississippi Delta, in Appalachia, and throughout the Rio Grande Valley. But this isn’t a fight that will be won in Washington, DC. We need to send a strong message to our elected leaders demanding that they invest in building resilience in America’s rural communities by fully funding rural development programs.
At the core of our campaign is a $60 billion rural development package that prioritizes programs, especially grant programs, which ensure the smallest and lowest resourced communities do not bear the burden of debt financing for their recovery. We strongly believe that Congress must target federal resources in ways that will optimize the best long-term outcomes, especially for distressed rural places, and focus investments on programs that will support local ownership and control while delivering critical assistance in the disadvantaged communities where it is most needed.
Promote the Dignity of Work
All workers deserve respect and no job should be discriminated against on any basis. We are working to ensure all workers, regardless of their status or background, are treated with dignity and respect and receive fair compensation for their labor.
Invest in Sustainable Infrastructure
Crumbling bridges, congested highways, and low speed internet put rural communities at a disadvantage. We have an opportunity to create good rural jobs by replacing outdated systems with new modern and sustainable infrastructure making our communities more inclusive and connected.
Ensure Equitable Access to Rural Programs
For centuries, issues of structural racism, homophobia, and gender discrimination in rural policy, programs, and staffing have caused generational harm to rural Black, Indigenous, immigrant, and queer communities. We are working to expand access to rural development programs and break the cycles of injustice that still exist today.
Build Bottom Up Rural Economic Prosperity
Rural prosperity must be built from the bottom up. We are working to pass rural economic development policies that work to increase wages, decrease daily expenses and improve the quality of life, especially in rural areas experiencing economic distress and persistent poverty.
Improve Intergovernmental Coordination
The Federal rural programs landscape is overwhelmingly complex. Leaders must navigate more than a dozen legislative committees and federal agencies to access support for their rural communities. We must simplify and streamline this bureaucracy to ensure all communities can navigate this landscape.
Create Public Awareness and Civic Leadership
The majority of rural Americans are not aware of the economic and community development programs available to their communities. We are working to ensure federal programs address this knowledge gap and invest in building civic leadership skills in small towns and rural communities.
The following is a statement from Matt Hildreth, Executive Director of RuralOrganizing.Org:…