Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

Vilsack Urges Philanthropists to Seek Partnerships, Smart Investments to Maximize Impact in Rural America


KANSAS CITY, Mo., July 27, 2011 – Speaking today at the Council on Foundations Rural Philanthropy Conference, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack called on representatives of philanthropic organizations from across America to "step up, take risks and work creatively to create jobs, improve quality of life and make an impact on rural America." During his keynote address, the Secretary urged philanthropists to partner with the Obama Administration, through the newly-announced White House Rural Council to drive smart investment strategies in rural America.

"The Obama Administration is working to ensure that rural Americans have access to basic services and that businesses have the tools they need to expand and create jobs in rural communities, but it takes all of us working together to bring substantial improvement to rural living conditions," said Vilsack. "Rural America wants faster, more reliable telecommunications services; improved educational resources, health services and reliable police and fire protection. While the government can provide assistance, we need you to work with us in full partnership to maximize limited resources."

Vilsack said that rural America faces a silent crisis of poverty, lack of education, outmigration, lack of opportunity and lack of capital and credit. Many challenges stretch across geographic and political boundaries.

"We need your support in leading more communities to consider broadening their scope, and doing the necessary planning to leverage the resources around them," said Vilsack. "I challenge you to step up, take risks and work creatively to create jobs, improve quality of life and make an impact on rural America. That doesn't just mean increased investments – but smarter investments."

The Secretary said philanthropic organizations can forge new partnerships to remove barriers to rural investment.

For example, in South Dakota, USDA provided a $135,000 matching grant in 2010 to the Ċokata Wiċoni Teen Center. The Center then worked to complete the match requirement through donations from Running Strong for American Indian Youth, South Dakota Community Foundation, and private donations. The teen center serves a wide area and includes a library, classrooms, computer lab, and commercial kitchen.

In June, President Obama signed an Executive Order establishing the first White House Rural Council, chaired by Secretary Vilsack, and a series of working groups have been held in recent weeks to advance the Council's objectives. Since his inauguration, President Obama's Administration has taken significant steps to improve the lives of rural Americans and has provided broad support for rural communities. The Obama Administration has set goals of modernizing infrastructure by providing broadband access to 10 million Americans, expanding educational opportunities for students in rural areas, providing affordable health care, promoting innovation and expanding the production of renewable energy. In the long term, these unparalleled rural investments will help ensure that America's rural communities are repopulating, self-sustaining, and thriving economically.

As chair of the Rural Council, Secretary Vilsack is working to coordinate USDA programs across the government and encourage public-private partnerships to improve economic conditions and create jobs in rural communities. The White House Rural Roundtables are an opportunity for government leaders to hear directly from rural residents from around the country about their ideas on how to grow the economy. This exchange is also intended to educate participants about USDA programs and other the resources within the federal government. USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of state and local offices to improve the quality of life in rural America.


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