About us

What is Rural Support Partners?

Rural Support Partners is a social enterprise working across the rural Southeast to strengthen anchor organizations, develop collective impact networks, and help move sustainable economic development efforts to scale. We provide a variety of services to help leaders, organizations, and networks achieve better results. Our services are based in a strong commitment to rural communities and result in increased organizational effectiveness, improved strategies, and deepened impact.

FacilitationOur Approach

Our experienced staff and rural fellows engage clients in a collaborative process. We lead with cooperation, trust, and integrity by building relationships that foster growth and development for ourselves and the leaders and organizations with which we partner.

Focus on Results: Our results-based approach helps organizations and networks define desired outcomes, track progress, measure achievements, and evaluate the effectiveness of their strategies. Over time, this approach leads to improved programs, more efficient use of resources, and ultimately a greater return on everyone's investment of time, energy, and money. Focusing on results also helps foster connections and collaboration among organizations, effectively encouraging collective strategies which deepen the impact and scale of rural economic development efforts - helping rural areas return to an era of innovation and prosperity.

Establish Partnerships: We build long-standing partnerships with anchor organizations. This allows us to deeply understand their support needs, establish the trust to engage in difficult work, create shared tools and processes, and collectively uncover opportunities to advance regional strategies. Ultimately, this partnership-based approach ensures that an equal-power relationship is established and that everyone's work becomes stronger and deeper.

Promote Collective Impact: We believe that creating large-scale social change is bigger than any one organization, and will result from cross-sector collaboration rather than isolated interventions. The power of collective action comes from a shared set of desired outcomes and working together toward a common agenda. RSP consistently works to promote collaboration and develop networks capable of creating sustainable, large-scale social change.

Sustainable Economic Development

Much of our work is focused on sustainable economic development. We define sustainable economic development as a strategy that builds on rural people's experiences and existing natural, cultural, and structural resources for the purpose of generating income, building power among marginalized populations, protecting the environment, and promoting social and economic justice within rural communities. While our knowledge of sustainable economic development is informed by the latest research, our understanding of how to initiate and build sustainable economic development efforts is steeped in the daily reality of rural communities. Our work with a diverse group of clients allows us to explore the opportunities and challenges of rural development from various perspectives and learn from some of the most innovative practitioners in the field.

our principles
  • Lead with cooperation, trust, and integrity to foster coordination, collaboration, and mutual support.
  • Recognize that our work is an opportunity to both teach and learn with the goal of creating shared tools, knowledge, and understanding that can be passed from one organization to another.
  • Recognize that organizational development and personal development are inextricably linked.
  • Approach our work as one piece of a long-term effort. We honor and learn from the work before us, continue to strengthen and build sustainable infrastructure, and cultivate the next generation of leaders to ensure that the work of creating more just and equitable rural communities endures over the long haul.


Organizing Models

Our approach is grounded in theories of popular education, participatory development, and community organizing. We use several tools that have evolved from these theories to develop and reflect on our strategies and principles. You can download diagrams of these tools below.

  • The spiral model is the core of everything we do. Based in principles of popular education, using the spiral model helps us draw out the experiential wisdom of our partners and use this knowledge to plan for and create significant change.
  • Infrastructure-based organizing refers to an effort to build an infrastructure of anchor organizations and collective impact networks that work in a coordinated, strategic way across a geographic region. You can read an article on one of our partner collective impact networks, the Central Appalachian Network, here.

You can also download a more complete description of our work, our organizational values and beliefs, and our management structure here.