Cross-sector Collaboration in Rural Areas

To help users find relevant, quality resources from our Resource Library, we create curated lists on a variety of topics, bringing important practitioner- and academic-oriented work to the forefront.


Here we present resources on cross-sector collaboration in rural areas — cases, articles, multimedia, and reports that tackle topics ranging from rural sustainability to improving education to providing broadband and more.


View all our curated lists here.


Rural Sustainability in Western North Carolina, The Intersector Project, 2014

In 2004, after 50 years in operation, the Asheville Livestock Market in Western North Carolina closed its doors. Many local farmers then faced a difficult decision: Continue raising cattle and absorb the increased cost of travel to buy and sell their livestock, or give up cattle farming completely. Bill Gibson, Director of the Southwestern Regional Council of Governments, was called upon to develop a plan to build and operate a central livestock market, which would preserve the economic and environmental ecosystems of the region. This case study tells the story of how Bill became the “seal of approval” in the pursuit of funding for a new market, connecting participants from all sectors at multiple levels.


Collective Impact Case Study: Franklin County Communities that Care Coalition, FSG, 2013

✴ Available with free registration

“Franklin County Communities that Care Coalition is a collective impact initiative to reduce substance use and improve the ability of youth to reach their full potential in rural Franklin County, Massachusetts. A resource for collective impact backbone organizations, funders, and partners, this case study provides an overview of the initiative, along with lessons learned.”

Scholarly Article

Rural Cross-sector Collaboration: A Social Frontier Analysis, American Educational Research Journal, Peter M. Miller, Martin K. Scanlan, and Kate Phillippo, 2017

✴ Available only with purchase from publisher

“Schools throughout the United States apply comprehensive community partnership strategies to address students’ in- and out-of-school needs. … Extant research on cross-sector collaboration focuses disproportionately on urban settings. This qualitative study examined three years of cross-sector collaboration in ‘Midvale,’ a rural community in the western United States. Applying the conceptual framework of social frontiers, it illuminates how issues of difference, competition, and resource constraint impacted cross-sector collaboration in Midvale’s rural context.”

Scholarly Article

Mobilization and Adaptation of a Rural Cradle-to-Career Network, Education Sciences, Sarah J. Zuckerman, 2016

“This case study explore[s] the development of a rural cradle-to-career network with a dual focus on the initial mobilization of network members and subsequent adaptations made to maintain mobilization, while meeting local needs. … Three network adaptations were discovered: Special rural community organizing strategies, district-level action planning, and a theory of action focused on out-of-school factors. All three were attributable to the composition of mobilized stakeholders and this network’s rural social geography. These findings illuminate the importance of social geography in the development and advancement of rural cradle-to-career networks.”


Turning the Tide on Persistent Rural Poverty: Blueprint for a Path Forward, NeighborWorks America, Nick Mitchell-Bennett, Jim King, Bill Bynum, and Chrystel Cornelius, 2017

“In late 2014, a working group formed to focus on partnerships to tackle persistent rural poverty, including the four authors of this paper. Together, the members of the working group represent the hardest-hit rural areas of the country. … This paper invites a bottom-up approach in which those living in and working with the affected communities directly identify the remaining challenges and the most effective solutions.”


Webinar: Unlocking Investment in Rural America, Mission Investors Exchange, Bill Bynum, Justin Maxson, and Lisa Mensah, 2016

This webinar discusses Uplift America, a public-private-philanthropic partnership tackling rural poverty. “The Uplift America Fund leverages $500 million for communities in need and creates additional rural infrastructure through increasing the capacity of community development financial institutions (CDFIs). … This lively conversation will help participants envision creative solutions for their own communities, including how philanthropic leaders can apply catalytic grant dollars alongside other impact investors, provide flexible capital, and find the right fit for each partner.”


Successful Strategies for Broadband Public-Private Partnerships, Institute for Local Self Reliance, Patrick Lucey and Christopher Mitchell, 2016

One of the cases highlighted in this report, which explores public-private partnerships for broadband, is the town of Leverett, Massachussetts: “Leverett took the lead on the project by contracting with various entities, both public and private, to build, manage, and activate the network. LeverettNet is not so much a comprehensive PPP agreement as it is a series of bids and awarded contracts culminating in a municipal network leased to a local ISP. Yet it does represent another approach to how public and private actors can work together on a local network project, one where the public actor takes on additional control and risk while outsourcing multiple roles to other partners.”


Effective Rural Governance: What Is It? Does It Matter?, Rural Governance Initiative at the Rural Policy Research Institute, Nancy Stark, 2006

“This framing paper defines effective governance, explains why governance is suddenly in the spotlight, details and illustrates eight key principles of effective rural governance, and poses questions that ground the Rural Governance Initiative. … Effective governance incorporates a variety of decision-making and implementation practices by a wide range of people, organizations, and institutions beyond government: nonprofit groups, faith-based organizations, community foundations, citizen alliances, community colleges, business associations, and others.”


Financing Tools and Partnerships for Rural and Semiurban Transportation Projects, Center for Transportation Research at the University of Texas at Austin, Khali Persad, C. Michael Walton, and Patricia Franco, 2008

“In this research product, financing techniques and partnerships for rural and small urban area transportation projects are presented. With traditional transportation revenue sources lagging and maintenance demanding more attention, non-urban areas have less funding for new projects. This research examine[s] alternative financing options, experience with them, and lessons learned. The results will be of use to TxDOT district staff in developing partnerships with local and private entities to address local needs.”


Rural Community Health Toolkit, Rural Health Information Hub

“This toolkit provides rural communities with the information, resources, and materials they need to develop a community health program in a rural community. Each of the toolkit’s six modules contains information that communities can apply to develop a rural health program, regardless of the specific health topic the program addresses. The toolkit also links to issue-specific toolkits for more in-depth information.”