The National Association of Counties (NACo) is partnering with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to create a peer-learning opportunity for rural local leaders to advance equitable upward economic mobility to move individuals and families out of poverty. 

  • NACo will select 10 member counties, parishes or boroughs with populations of less than 50,000 to be part of the new Rural Leaders for Economic Mobility (RLEM) initiative.
  • Over an 18-month period, selected counties, parishes or boroughs will receive virtual and in-person learning opportunities to foster economic development and reduce poverty. 
  • Each applicant two-person team will designate one elected local government official from the county, parish or borough (e.g., commissioner, supervisor, police juror, county/parish executive, etc.) and one local government employee or community member who will help implement policy change (e.g., chief of staff, administrative officer, department head, nonprofit leader, community college president, industry leader, etc.).  
  • RLEM members will convene in member counties to discuss strategies for creating rural prosperity, addressing subjects such as housing; land use; broadband access; residential, commercial and community infrastructure; workforce development; and rural entrepreneurship. 
  • Cohort members will learn from peers and experts on proven strategies to create equitable economic opportunity in rural America, receive technical assistance for policy and program implementation, receive travel funds to participate in all in-person activities and be awarded a $50,000 subgrant to support implementation and integration of data and evidence-based policies into local government decision-making.

Completed applications containing all the requested information should be emailed as a Word or PDF attachment to by Monday, April 22, 11:59 p.m. ET.

For additional information:

  • Watch the recording of the virtual information session here
  • Download the slides from the information session here.


Watch the Application Information Session

Held April 3, 2024

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