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Rural Collaboration Project Unites Compeer and Foundations

Rural communities thrive when people and organizations share a united, common cause.

Collaboration is the key to creating and maintaining rural vitality, which is the main driver behind Compeer Financial’s support of the Rural Collaboration Project.

The Rural Collaboration Project provides grant funding to community and initiative foundations across Compeer’s territory in Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin. In 2023, the project was piloted with seven foundations and provided $347,500 in funding for seven focus areas as detailed below.

The vision centers around active, strong rural societies capable of supporting thriving economies.

In Wisconsin, the Fond du Lac Area Foundation partnered with the Beaver Dam Community Foundation to create a new fund and grant program focused on rural vitality.

“The grants helped to support community childcare needs and community development,” said Aaron Sadoff, executive director of the Fond du Lac Area Foundation. “Seven rural nonprofits and their communities now have more support than ever. The collaborative process has beautifully demonstrated how we can work together for the common good.”

Compeer also partnered with Minnesota’s Initiative Foundation to support regional, rural nonprofits in strategic planning and the implementation of the unique capacity building priorities identified through that planning.

“It is surprisingly rare for nonprofits to receive funding for self-identified capacity-building needs,” said Nicole Clements, nonprofit development program officer with the Initiative Foundation. “This unique, innovative approach empowers key stakeholders to direct the future of their organizations and accelerates the pace at which nonprofits can increase their capacity to serve their communities.”

Other partners include:
Community Foundation of Southern Wisconsin — Janesville, Wis.
DeKalb County Community Foundation — Sycamore, Ill.
Eau Claire Community Foundation — Eau Claire, Wis.
The Foundation for Northwest Illinois — Freeport, Ill.
Galesburg Community Foundation — Galesburg, Ill.

“At Compeer Financial, we are all about boosting rural growth through teamwork,” said Karen Schieler, senior corporate giving specialist at Compeer. “Our Rural Collaboration Project unites forces within community and initiative foundations to fuel progress. From farming to community needs, entrepreneurship to education, Compeer is onboard. We can help rural America thrive through important projects like this.”

The Rural Collaboration Project will continue in 2024 with support for additional community foundations and initiatives.

The Agriculture and Rural Initiative — Compeer’s donor-advised fund — provided funding for this program and was created by the Compeer Financial Board of Directors in 2019 to make signature investments in programs and projects that are high priorities to member-owners. To date, $10 million has been invested in the initiative, and $2.4 million has been awarded to support rural vitality, human health and agriculture and agriculture workforce development.

Rural Collaboration Projects should have a sustainable long-term plan and fit within the community’s long-term strategic vision for rural vitality. Focus areas include:

 Programs, projects and services that enhance the agricultural landscape and opportunities in a rural community.

Community Development
 Programs and projects contributing to the essential needs of the community. This can include health care, daycare and other areas that impact the quality of life for families and community members of all ages.

Entrepreneurship & Small Business Support 
 Programs and services helping the creative, cutting edge entrepreneurs and small business owners in a rural community.

Housing Expansion
 Programs and services supporting rural housing cooperatives or consultants or enhancements to single family, multi-family and workforce housing efforts. (Excludes efforts related to homelessness.)

Leadership Development
 Programs and projects helping to inspire, train and promote leadership for youth and adults in rural communities.

Rural Education
 Enhancing programming, innovations and experiences at pre-K to grade 12 schools to ensure students have access to a world-class education.

Workforce Development
 Programs and projects attracting, retaining, training and sustaining community members — current and future — to vital jobs and careers.

Agriculture Loans, Farm Loans and Rural Home Loans

Investing In Rural Communities

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