Rural Impact County Challenge: A National Effort to Combat Rural Child Poverty

Apply Now for Community Coaching for the Rural Impact County Challenge

As part of the Rural Impact County Challenge, NACo has partnered with the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps Program to offer Community Coaching to up to 10 county teams. Applicants must be signed up to participate in the Rural Impact County Challenge. To sign up for the Rural Impact County Challenge, fill out the form on this page below.

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Small towns and rural communities are home to millions of Americans, are a vibrant part of our nation’s economy, and include some of the most beautiful landmarks in the country. Rural America provides the vast majority of food, energy, and environmental benefits for the rest of the country. Additionally, rural communities are the source of nearly 90 percent of renewable water resources, and home to important service sector and manufacturing hubs.

Despite this critical role in our nation’s economy, too many Americans in rural areas are not sharing in our nation’s economic growth. A full 85 percent of our country’s persistent poverty counties are in rural America. Lack of opportunity for rural kids and families is often compounded by other challenges, including distance from health and early learning programs, lack of access to public transportation, and higher rates of drug and substance abuse. But for all kids, the road to successful adulthood relies on a strong foundation of access to basic health, nutrition, high-quality early education, strong schools, and support from parents and caregivers.

Counties Leading the Way

Recognizing the critical role local officials play in supporting innovation and change, the National Association of Counties (NACo) and the White House Rural Council have come together on a national initiative to help advance counties’ efforts to reduce the number of rural children and families living in poverty. The Rural Impact County Challenge (RICC) seeks to recognize and support counties making real difference in the lives of children in rural communities.

The Rural Impact County Challenge is a Call to Action demonstrating strong county leadership, commitment, and vision to achieve concrete results on behalf of rural children and families. This Call to Action asks counties to develop or refine an actionable plan that can be used to achieve local and state-level impacts. While it is not required to participate, county elected officials can also pass a resolution pledging to work with local, state, and federal entities (e.g., schools, health and social service providers, and state and federal policymakers), children and families, and other key stakeholders.  Actionable items include:

  • Convene or draw on a diverse team of leaders and decision makers from multiple agencies committed to reducing the number of children and families in rural areas living in poverty
  • Develop a plan with measurable outcomes that improves access, participation, and/or impact of evidence-based and other promising practices in one or more of the following areas: early childhood education, nutrition, workforce development, and health and human services.
  • Implement research-based approaches that advance the plan.
  • Create a process to track progress using data and information systems, and to report on successes.

If your county is interested in passing a resolution to signal your support, a sample resolution for your county board can be found here.

In addition to national recognition as local leaders creating opportunity in rural communities, County Challenge participants will receive the following:

  • A weekly newsletter with rural-focused research and state and federal funding opportunities
  • Invitations to participate in monthly webinars with Senior Administration Officials and fellow Challenge participants
  • Additional technical resources through strategic partnerships generated throughout the course of the iniative
  • A platform for peer learning opportunities to share best practices and barriers

If your county is interested in participating in the Rural Impact County Challenge, please complete the short form below. Please be sure to attach any relevant files (passed county resolution, additional information or materials on County Challenge project) before submitting your completed form. 


Has your county passed a County Challenge resolution?    


Files must be less than 2 MB.
Allowed file types: pdf doc docx.

Select your file(s), then click UPLOAD. Once you have uploaded all your supporting documentation, then click Submit below.
Files must be less than 2 MB.
Allowed file types: pdf doc docx.
Select your file(s), then click UPLOAD. Once you have uploaded all your supporting documentation, then click Submit below.

Rural Impact County Challenge Webinar Series

As part of the Rural Impact County Challenge, NACo and the White House Rural Council are hosting monthly webinars to showcase innovative county programs and initiatives designed to combat chronic rural poverty. Additionally, webinars include guest speakers from various federal agencies to highlight available resources and technical assistance available to rural counties addressing this critical issue. Learn more.

2016 Rural Action Caucus Symposium

This year's symposium brought together over 130 county elected officials from across the country to examine and highlight the county role in providing critical services for rural America. Members were joined by representatives of the White House Rural Council and other policy experts and foundational leadership for an in-depth look at how counties are combating chronic poverty.