About the Rural Schools Partnership

School Bell

The Importance of Rural Schools

Schools play a critical role in the well-being of small communities and towns that serve as rural hubs, providing a focal point of activity, a sense of civic pride, and a reason for families to stay in place.  Schools are an integral thread in the community fabric; they provide a sense of purpose.

Rural education is a linchpin issue in rural economic development.

Our Ozarks Region

The Community Foundation of the Ozarks’ 50-county service area is firmly grounded in the hills of the Missouri Ozarks, a unique cultural and geographical region. Predominantly rural, a significant portion of the Missouri Ozarks is designated by the United States Department of Agriculture as an area of “persistent poverty.” In fact, the Foundation serves nine of Missouri’s ten poorest counties.

The Foundation’s network of affiliates stretches from the Mississippi River in the east to the Kansas and Oklahoma borders in the west, to the Missouri River in the north and the Arkansas border in the south.

CFO Response:  The Rural School Partnership

Rural Schools Partnership from CF Ozarks on Vimeo.

Recognizing the overarching importance of schools to rural development, the Community Foundation of the Ozarks’ board of directors has launched the Rural Schools Partnership, a comprehensive program to strengthen small school districts.  The Rural Schools Partnership resulted from a year-long planning process involving CFO’s regional committee, public school leaders, affiliated foundation leadership, donors, and area business people.

The Rural Schools Partnership embraces three consensus-based strategies for strengthening rural schools:

  • Develop alternative resources
  • Promote collaborations and partnerships
  • Support place-based education strategies

Program Features for Rural Schools Partnership Members:

A.     Resource Development

> Developing school foundations & charitable resources; CFO staff will assist schools, school foundations, and affiliated community foundations with:

  • Technical support
  • Administrative support
  • Fund management
  • Legal counsel
  • Board development and donor education
  • Planned giving programs
  • Establishing and managing scholarship programs

B.      Collaborations and Partnerships

> Provided professional development support for teachers and administrators through the Rural School and Community Trust’s Rural Schools Innovation Network.

  • This project was supported by a $20,000 grant from an anonymous foundation and $30,000 from the Community Foundation of the Ozarks Philanthropy Initiative.  A cohort of 25 schools participated in the two-year pilot project. Go to www.ruralschoolspartnership.org/archives/144 for a list of schools that took part.

> CFO will build meaningful relationships with local community foundations through fund development and community education

>Making a Difference Where You Live, a quarterly radio and web-based program on important rural education issues. Sponsored by Ozarks Public Broadcasting, KSMU, www.ksmu.org ; available 91.1 Springfield, 90.5 Branson, 90.9 West Plains; 88.7 Mountain Grove, 98.9 Joplin, and 103.7 Neosho on the FM dial.

C.      Place-Based Education

> The Louis L. and Julia Dorothy Coover Charitable Foundation Regional Grantmaking Program of Commerce Trust will provide $127,500 per year in grantmaking support for cooperative ventures that enhance teaching and learning through innovative place-based education programs. 8-15 projects funded annually; applications due March 2, 2012.  Go to www.ruralschoolspartnership.org/grants.

Bring place-based, cross-curricular learning to your school with the new Placeworks program. Springfield artist Kate Baird, a former teaching artist at the Guggenheim Museum, and arts educator Julie Taylor Jones come to your classroom to blend visual arts training with other elements of your curriculum–math, science, social studies, language arts for multi-session programs. This program is free, and requires only time and space for the learning to happen. Download this brochure for more information.

> Springfield Regional Arts Council  :  The Greater Ozarks Art Tour

Enriching Rural Schools through the Arts!

  • Vincent Van Goat is a colorful goat sculpture partnered with an interactive computer program that features film clips of Ozarks’ artists.  Vincent is geared toward elementary-aged students, who are invited to climb on his back and learn about Ozarks’ art forms through kid-friendly computer software.  The exhibit is transported to a school or library by the Springfield Regional Arts Council and can stay on-site for up to one week.  Funding support for this program is provided by the Kirby Foundation.
  • Vincent Van Goat:  The Movie is a DVD version of the interactive computer program. Copies of both the 2007 and new 2010 DVD’s are available upon request to members of the Rural Schools Partnership. Funding support for this project has been provided by the Kirby Foundation.
  • Claymobile is a mobile ceramic education program.  Developed by Springfield Pottery, the Claymobile is a fully-stocked van that transports all materials needed for clay workshops—including the teachers!  Participation in the Claymobile program requires a 50% match at the local or school level.
  • Greater Ozarks Arts Tour Performance Series brings performance arts (voice, dance, instrumental, theatrical, literary) to rural schools and their respective communities.
  • For information on these programs, please contact Stephanie Cramer, Director of Programs and Exhibitions, Springfield Regional Arts Council at 417-862-2787 (ARTS) or stephanie@SpringfieldArts.org

>The Community Foundation of the Ozarks Philanthropy Initiative will provide start up grants to support the establishment of youth philanthropy/leadership  programs in rural communities. Contact Bridget Dierks at 417-864-6199 or bdierks@cfozarks.org .

Our hope is that the Rural Schools Partnership and its various programs will increase philanthropic support for rural education, encourage purposeful collaboration, and strengthen the bonds between school and community.

Membership in the Rural Schools Partnership is open to any school, school district, or school foundation that has a formal relationship with the Community Foundation of the Ozarks or one of its affiliated community foundations.  For more information please contact one of our offices:

Springfield, Julie Leeth:  417-864-6199
West Plains, Carol Silvey:  417-256-4725