Rural Communities Initiative
Given the continued scale of poverty and limited job opportunities in rural areas, the Office of Family Assistance implemented the Rural Communities Initiative in early 2008. The Initiative is providing States, Tribes, and local TANF agencies the opportunity to share information and innovative strategies on critical rural issues and barriers to employment such as education, job skills, transportation, and child care. This page provides information on the Initiative, and various reports, technical assistance events, Web casts, teleconferences, environmental scans, fact sheets, and Academy reports.
Currently, there are no archived postings for this topic.
Academy (September 08)
The Rural Communities Academy was the "kick off" event for the 16 selected rural sites and included time for each rural site team (consisting of four/five team members) to participate in information gathering, networking, and action planning. The team members who attended the Academy participated in workshops and plenary sessions, and met with Rural Content Specialists and representatives from other rural communities who shared their insight into strategies being utilized in rural areas with TANF participants.
Final Report [PDF - 3,167 KB]
Work Prep, Oklahoma (Lou Ann Hargrave)
[PDF - 180 KB]
Transitional Programs, Kentucky Community College and Technical System, Kentucky (Shauna King-Simms) [PDF - 252 KB]
Career Pathways, Phillips County Community College University of Arkansas, Arkansas (Shawndus Gregory) [PDF - 1,484 KB]
Drug Endangered Children’s Network, University of Kentucky (Doug Burnham)
[PDF - 139 KB]
Drug Endangered Children’s Network Resource Flyer
[PDF - 1,724 KB]
WSOS Community Action Commission, Ohio (Roger Fisher) [PDF - 340 KB]
SEE Hawaii Works (Pankaj Bhanot)
[PDF - 255 KB]
Business Access (Daylan Beamon) [PDF - 55 KB] Business Access- In-Home Learning System TANF Overview [PDF - 81 KB] Business Access- How to Use the In-Home Learning System for TANF [PDF - 666 KB] Business Access PowerPoint Presentation [PDF - 230 KB] Business Access PowerPoint -- General Information [PDF - 941 KB]
Career Options, ND (Trina Gress) [PDF - 987 KB]
Good News Mountaineer Garage, West Virginia (Barbara Bayes) [PDF - 1,282 KB]
ACCESS Florida, Florida (Denise Parker) [PDF - 9,973 KB]
Oregon State University (Bruce Weber) [PDF - 2,312 KB]
Office of Family Assistance- Welfare to Work, Promising Practices Paper
[PDF - 2,280 KB]
Washington WorkFirst -- CTED Work Programs [PDF - 165 KB] Washington WorkFirst -- WorkFirst Partnership and Customer Service [PDF - 109 KB]
JOBS Program -- Pendleton Menu of Services [PDF - 292 KB] JOBS Program -- Milton-Freewater Menu of Services [PDF - 306 KB]
Web casts and Webinars
Widely praised for its success in supporting work and reducing poverty, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) has grown to be one of the most successful and universally acclaimed provisions of U.S. domestic policy. In fact, several expansions in the late 1980s and early 1990s turned the EITC into the largest Federal aid program targeted to the working poor. Due to the potential impact of the EITC to support families in poverty, the Welfare Peer TA Network conducted a Webinar Series beginning January 6, 2010 on the EITC to give state agencies strategies for setting up a local or statewide coalition and to provide participants with strategies for improving outreach and marketing to and participation of TANF participants in the EITC program.
This Rural Communities Initiative Webinar explores distance learning options for TANF participants living in rural areas who wish to continue their education, earn their GED, or access job training. The challenge of engaging participants in educational activities to earn their GED or other credential was identified by many Rural Community Initiative sites as key for TANF agencies in helping families move to self sufficiency. Presenters included Dr. Eleanor “Lyn” Bond from the University of Washington, School of Nursing and Ms. Tonya Crum from Kentucky Education Television. The third invited presenter, Mr. Monte Murphy from Shasta College, could not attend however, his material appears below for reference.
This Webinar was part of the Rural Communities Initiative's Rural Economic Development Webinar series. This Webinar provided an overview of successful entrepreneurship/microenterprise strategies and small business development models in rural communities. Presenters offered suggestions and strategies for improving small business development that will provide career opportunities to rural TANF participants moving from welfare to work.
Download Rural Enterprise Assistance Project Presentation
[PDF - 813 KB]
Download Association for Enterprise Opportunity Presentation [PDF - 2,130 KB]
Download North Central Regional Center for Rural Development Presentation [PDF - 1,188 KB]
Download Audiorecording [WAV - 28,775 KB]
Download Audio Transcript [PDF - 650 KB]
This Webinar was on how rural TANF programs can expand technology access in rural areas. Presenters included Axiom Technologies, Business Access, and Connect Kentucky.
This Rural Communities Initiative Webinar included information on strategies for economic development through job creation in rural areas to improve service delivery to rural TANF programs. The challenge of improving economic development was identified by many Rural Community Initiative sites as one of the most critical issues facing rural organizations serving TANF participants. Presenters included Mr. Nick Goulette from the Watershed Research and Training Center, Ms. Elizabeth Ehrlich from the New York City Parks Opportunity Program and Denise Tolbert from the New York City Human Resources Administration, and Ms. Pauli Ojea from Green for All.
Download Parks Opportunity Program Presentation
[PDF - 4,461 KB]
Download Watershed Research and Training Center Presentation [PDF - 2,385 KB]
Download Green for All Presentation [PDF - 1,150 KB]
Download Transcript [PDF - 1,050 KB]
Download Audio Recording [WAV - 42,861 KB]
This Webinar on Nonprofit Technologies included presentations from Timothy Tyndall, RAIN Distance Learning, Telemedicine and Rural Community Development Network and Phillip Brown, National Policy Director, Connected Nation, Inc.
The Office of Family Assistance began the Rural Communities Initiative in 2008, and many rural areas expressed an interest in learning more about how to utilize technology in their TANF programs and in their communities. This Webinar included presentations from Ms. Mary Campanola, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Rural Development, Telecommunications Program; Ms. Sheryl Rehberg, Executive Director, North Florida Workforce Development Board; and Mr. Stan Brodka, Director of Sales, KeyTrain.
This Webinar took place on February 11, 2009 and included presentations from John Squires, Executive Director, Community Resource Group, Donna Shaunsesy, JAUNT Program, Virginia, and Sandy Conner, Workforce Transportation and Referral Center/Transportation Institute Partnership, Maryland.
This Webinar included presentations from Charles Rutkowski and Chris Zeilinger, Community Transportation Association of America; Mary Leahy, Senior Director, Easter Seals Project ACTION; David Schnieder, Program Specialist, Federal Transit Administration; and Nichole Goldsmith, Director, National Rural Transit Assistance Program.
[MP3 - 9,939 KB]
[PDF - 389 KB]
Easter Seals Project ACTION (Mary Leary) [PDF - 1,256 KB]
Community Transportation Association of America (Charles Rutkowski and Chris Zeilinger) [PDF - 329 KB]
This Webinar included a presentation by Daylan Beamon of Business Access.
PowerPoint Presentation [PDF - 908 KB]
The Placing Individuals in Vital Opportunity Training (PIVOT) Program was designed by the Erie County Department of Social Services to bridge the gap between the recipients and the local business community and TANF. This program provides quality job opportunities for the employable TANF population while serving as a resource for the hiring needs of local employers.
This Teleconference took place on November 18, 2008 as part of a follow-up to the Rural Communities Academy that occurred in September 2008. Many participants expressed some interest in learning more about how to utilize AmeriCorps volunteers in their program, as well as in their community. This teleconference includes five presentations on how to utilize AmeriCorps in rural programs as well as a question and answer session.
As a strategy to provide asset-based training for caseworkers and serve New Mexico's growing population of individuals with substance abuse barriers, New Mexico Works requested a substance abuse case management training, with a focus on motivational interviewing techniques. The training was designed and delivered by Dr. Alyssa Forcehimes from the University of New Mexico Center on Alcoholism, Substance Abuse and Addictions. The curriculum was delivered over one day in April 2009 and two days in July 2009. The training provided participants with an overview of substance abuse in the TANF population, strategies for building self-efficacy in TANF participants, and ways to motivate participants to make positive behavioral changes. The New Mexico substance abuse case management training was attended by 35 caseworkers and managers. Evaluations from the training indicated that participants acquired a set of tools that can assist their clients in overcoming substance abuse barriers. A section of the training was also dedicated to strategies for conducting train-the-trainer sessions at participants' home sites.
Final Report [PDF - 733 KB]
As part of their Rural Communities Initiative Technical Assistance Action Plan, the Montana team identified the prevalence of substance abuse challenges within their TANF caseload as among one of their chief concerns. The site was particularly interested in exploring new techniques that would simultaneously promote work attachment and higher work participation rates (WPR) along with facilitating overcoming drug and alcohol addiction. Based on these goals, the Montana team convened a substance abuse case management training where TANF staff from Roosevelt County and the Fort Peck Reservation were introduced to new and effective case management approaches for participants with substance abuse barriers. The training also included job development and job placement strategies tailored for TANF participants with substance abuse barriers. The training took place November 17-19, 2009 and was led by staff from the UC Davis Center for Human Services. As a result of the substance abuse centered TA they received, the Montana site developed new approaches to managing participants with substance abuse challenges. In addition to utilizing a more assets-based case management approach (e.g. motivational interviewing strategies), the site is also working to implement community involvement strategies that incorporate substance abuse prevention techniques.
Final Report [PDF - 831 KB]
While still facing serious fiscal and programmatic challenges, the White Mountain Apache Tribe (WMAT) site felt strongly that their TANF program required an infusion of evidence-based practices and ideas that had successfully moved Tribal TANF participants into higher levels of self-sufficiency. WMAT identified the Navajo Nation Tribal TANF system as the case management model they hoped to replicate and a site visit was conducted in September 2009. During the site visit, five staff members from WMAT met with leadership from the Navajo Department of Workforce Development and the Program for Self Reliance to discuss Tribal TANF operations, cost efficient service delivery, serving remote Tribal TANF participants, and other case management strategies. The WMAT site visit to the Navajo Nation and the subsequent introduction of numerous promising strategies served as a valuable asset in the redesign of their Tribal Family Assistance Plan (TFAP). The principles of self-reliance and cultural values within the context of TANF, concepts they explored with the Navajo Nation, have become important components of their new TFAP.
Final Report [PDF - 716 KB]
The Rural Communities Initiative conducted a Site Visit to the White Mountain Apache Tribal TANF Program based on their request for TA. Rural Communities Initiative staff partnered with consultants from the U.C. Davis Extension at the University of California to provide the Tribe with an in-depth needs assessment in order to strategize on developing solutions for programmatic improvement. The consultants, Julie Gondry and Dr. Geni Cowan, are Tribal TANF subject matter experts with program based skills in training, case management, and data reporting. Based upon the assessment results, the White Mountain Apache Tribal TANF Program will receive valuable recommendations to further enhance aspects of their program’s structure and administration to reach the end goal of self-sufficiency for their TANF participants.
Recognizing the importance of expanding transportation options for their TANF participants, the North Dakota Rural Communities Initiative site sought to learn more about innovative car ownership programs serving individuals on public assistance. Through contacts at Opportunity Cars, a network of 150 innovative car ownership programs, it was suggested that the team visit programs in Minnesota, which has one of the highest number of car ownership programs in the country. The director of Opportunity Cars nominated three innovative programs that had distinctly different implementation models and were also centrally located in the state: (1) Free to Be, Inc. – Blaine, Minnesota; (2) People Responding in Social Ministry (PRISM) – Golden Valley, Minnesota; and (3) Minnesota Valley Action Council (MVAC). During site visits to these three organizations in late June 2009, the North Dakota site members met with program staff to discuss the background of their car ownership programs, service delivery models, and partnering strategies. These resources and ideas promise to be incredibly useful as the site begins moving forward on implementing their own transportation assistance program.
Staff from the Montana (Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes/Roosevelt County) and Hoopa Valley Tribal TANF (California) met with personnel from various social service providers on the Turtle Mountain Reservation to learn more about innovative substance abuse prevention, job development, community building, and youth development programs currently being used on the Reservation. Both sites requested this visit due to their interest in investigating community/family centered strategies that supported substance abuse prevention and empowered Tribal communities.
Agenda [PDF - 133 KB]
As part of the Rural Communities Initiative and the Vermont site’s Individualized Technical Assistance Plan, Vermont decided to alter their TANF case management approach. Through a series of meetings, the team sketched out a new case management structure which included a team approach in place of one- on- one case management. In addition, the team decided that their staff could benefit from additional training in career coaching. To this end, the team requested that Charles Modiano, a youth development and employment initiative trainer, hold a training for all staff around career coaching and team based case management. The training was held March 25-26, 2009, and was attended by three of Vermont’s Economic Services Districts as well as the Vermont Economic Services central office. Due in part to this training, Vermont has developed a new model of service delivery, moving away from traditional case management and toward a community based teaming model of service. This model brings together all community partners working with the TANF participant to provide enhanced support towards reaching self-sufficiency. Also, as a result of the on-site training, the team chose to change the language used in service delivery to convey their philosophy of team oriented service. For example, the initial contact with a participant is now referred to as a “welcoming interview” instead of intake or assessment.
Final Report [PDF - 806 KB]
Agenda [PDF - 32 KB]
In recognition of the many case management and economic development challenges and opportunities present on Tribal lands, the Office of Family Assistance, in partnership with the Administration for Children and Families Regions VI and VIII, convened a series of Tribal Roundtable events to help address and capitalize on some of these issues. Attended by staff from sixteen different Tribal governments, the Roundtable series took place April 12-15 in Denver, Colorado, and featured three major sessions: Identifying Opportunities for Economic Development In Indian Country Roundtable; ACF Regions VI and VIII Tribal TANF Administrators Meeting, and; Identifying and Implementing Effective Case Management Strategies Workshop. With assistance from Federal and Regional staff and nationally recognized content experts and practitioners, Roundtable participants focused on a number of issues critical to the success and continued sustainability of their TANF programs. Topics covered during the Roundtable Series included job creation, green technologies, guidance on American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding, and case management strategies that empower and motivate TANF participants and staff. Roundtable attendees were provided with tools, promising program models, and resources to assist in their local economic development, case management design, and program development efforts.
[PDF - 202 KB]
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Speaker Bios [PDF - 62 KB] Participant List [PDF - 307 KB]
State of Montana Presentation [PDF - 600 KB] State - Tribal Institute Presentation [PDF - 1,482 KB] Native Green Academy Presentation [PDF - 843 KB] Rural Dynamics Presentation [PDF - 353 KB] Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs Presentation [PDF - 805 KB] Keya Earth Presentation [PDF - 1,902 KB] Intertribal Council on Utility Policy Presentation [PDF - 13,991 KB] ICF Green Jobs Presentation [PDF - 2,109 KB] National Conference of State Legislatures Presentation [PDF - 365 KB] Keya Earth Green Presentation [PDF - 2,894 KB] Put Your Mask On First Presentation [PDF - 5,864 KB] TANF Administrators Meeting Presentation [PDF - 345 KB] TANF Financial Reporting [PDF - 1,624 KB]
The Office of Family Assistance (OFA) hosted the Rural Communities Initiative Implementing Strategies for Employer Engagement Workshop in Louisville, Kentucky January 28-29, 2010. Six rural communities, as a component of ongoing technical assistance, attended to discuss promising practices and develop reasonable local action steps on the topics of employer outreach, subsidized employment, job placement and retention, and workforce intermediaries. The rural sites were introduced to the partnership between the City of Louisville and UPS with a presentation on the partnership and tour of the UPS Worldport facility. The sites developed concise action plans that summarized the key points and questions that emerged from their discussions and captured how the sites plan to use this information to develop concrete actions locally. Participants were provided with tools, replicable innovative models, and guidance on designing employer engagement opportunities to improve outcomes for TANF families.
[PDF - 182 KB]
[PDF - 646 KB]
Speaker Bios [PDF - 196 KB]
Participant List [PDF - 199 KB]
Employer Engagement Work Plan [PDF - 758 KB]
Key Questions For Cities, Counties, and States in Designing Transitional Jobs Programs [PDF - 194 KB]
Frequently Asked Questions: Transitional Jobs Program Strategy and the TANF Emergency Fund [PDF - 140 KB]
Close the Deal Informational Packet [PDF - 938 KB]
Pathways Program Overview [PDF - 102 KB]
Metropolitan College Overview [PDF - 1,232 KB]
Perry County, Tennessee’s Subsidized Employment Program [PDF - 220 KB]
The capstone event for the Rural Communities Initiative was the Rural Leadership Forum that took place in Charleston, South Carolina on September 1-2, 2009. Representatives from the 16 rural TANF sites met to share lessons learned; explore leadership and sustainability plans; and discuss successes garnered and challenges encountered from the implementation of the Rural TANF sites’ TA plans over the past year.
[PDF - 169 KB]
Participant List [PDF - 181 KB]
Step Up Presentation [PDF - 863 KB]
Building a Leadership Team [PDF - 97 KB]
365 Days of Change Resource [PDF - 504 KB]
TANF Rural Initiative Overview [PDF - 791 KB]
CAPS: A Brief Description [PDF - 15 KB]
Poverty Simulation [PDF - 227 KB]
U.S. Listing [PDF - 548 KB]
The Office of Family Assistance (OFA) hosted a Rural Communities Initiative Economic Development Roundtable in Spring 2009 to strengthen economic development activities among programs serving TANF participants in rural communities. Nine rural communities—as a component of ongoing technical assistance—attended the Rural Communities Economic Roundtable in Portland, Maine, June 8-9, 2009 and developed economic development strategic plans for their local communities. Participants were provided with tools, replicable innovative models, and guidance on designing economic development opportunities to improve the employment opportunities for TANF participants and assist them in becoming more self-sufficient.
[PDF - 136 KB]
Participant List [PDF - 96 KB]
Speaker Bios [PDF - 135 KB]
Program Descriptions [PDF - 193 KB]
Strategic Economic Development Plan [PDF - 248 KB]
Annotated Bibliography [PDF - 98 KB]
A Partnership to Transform the Workforce and Economy of Coastal Maine Presentation [PDF - 598 KB]
Career Jump Brochure [PDF - 907 KB]
Community College Partnerships and Resources Presentation [PDF - 4,320 KB]
Community Jobs and Supported Works Brochure [PDF - 129 KB]
Entrepreneurship as a Rural Economic Development Strategy Presentation [PDF - 231 KB]
New Tools for Analyzing Regional Economies Presentation [PDF - 1,506 KB]
Parks Opportunity Program Presentation [PDF - 16,240 KB]
Partnering with the Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Stakeholders Presentation [PDF - 65 KB]
Rural America: New Economic Realities and New Strategies Presentation [PDF - 3,806 KB]
Business Clusters/SECTORS --The Key to Workforce Development Presentation [PDF - 2,185 KB]
Transforming Rural Economies Presentation [PDF - 698 KB]
Washington Department of Community, Trade, and Economic Development Presentation [PDF - 193 KB]
The North Dakota Department of Human Services/Career Options Roundtable was held in Bismarck, North Dakota from May 5-6, 2009. Attendees included representatives from seven Rural Communities Initiative sites as well as administrators and case management staff from Career Options, Inc. Based on Career Options’ presentation during the Rural Communities Academy in September 2008, a number of Initiative sites requested follow-up on certain aspects of the programmatic work taking place at the organization. Specifically, sites expressed interest in Career Options’ organizational development model, child care and education programs, and case management strategies for hard-to-serve participants. With these requests in mind, the Roundtable was designed to include a series of in-depth breakout sessions that focused on the unique tools and case management approaches utilized by Career Options. In addition, as a way to show the diversity of Career Options’ caseload, Roundtable attendees participated in a site visit to the Standing Rock Reservation where they visited with case management staff and toured the Reservation. During the close-out session, attendees discussed their next steps for taking strategies from this Roundtable and replicating them in their local areas.
[PDF - 136 KB]
[PDF - 1,188 KB]
Participant List [PDF - 118 KB]
Career Options Regions 1 and 2 Overview [PDF - 2,726 KB]
Career Options Regions 3 and 4 Overview [PDF - 9,705 KB]
Career Options Regions 4 and 5 Overview [PDF - 734 KB]
Career Options Regions 7 and 8 Overview [PDF - 9,472 KB]
Roundtable Overview [PDF - 2,650 KB]
Intake Employment Plan Development Presentation [PDF - 412 KB]
Vocational Skills Workshop Presentation [PDF - 729 KB]
Job Development Presentation [PDF - 492 KB]
Engaging Employers Presentation [PDF - 11,901 KB]
The Rural Transportation Roundtable was held January 27-28, 2009 in Charleston, West Virginia. Attendees included representatives from seven of the Rural Communities Initiative Sites and various content specialists. One of the key challenges and issues facing rural TANF agencies and organizations is providing reliable and cost effective transportation. The purpose of the Rural Transportation Roundtable was for sites to learn more about additional programs in the field of rural transportation, resources on forming partnerships with local transportation stakeholders, and funding for these types of projects. Content faculty presented on lessons learned from current rural transportation models and participants had time to engage in action planning to develop programmatic and funding solutions to rural transportation challenges. Participants also conducted a site visit to the Good News Mountaineer Garage to see their service delivery model, their facilities, and meet with staff for a question and answer session.
[PDF - 291 KB]
[PDF - 544 KB]
Speaker Bios [PDF - 171 KB]
Setting the Context on Rural Transportation Successes and Challenges for Rural Initiative Sites (James Butler, OFA and Louisa Fuller, ICF International) [PDF - 244 KB]
Opportunity Cars, National (Carolyn Hayden) [PDF - 1,273 KB]
Vehicles for Change, Virginia, Maryland, and Washington D.C. (Marty Schwartz) [PDF - 499 KB]
JumpStart, West CAP, Wisconsin (Peter Kilde) [PDF - 1,139 KB] JumpStart, West CAP, Wisconsin (Resource Guide) [PDF - 1,998 KB]
Good News Mountaineer Garage, West Virginia (Barbara Bayes) [PDF - 1,832 KB]
United We Ride, Federal Transit Administration Region III (Reginald Knowlton) [PDF - 3,778 KB]
Rural Transit Assistance Program (Nichole Goldsmith and Rob Tassinari) [PDF - 717 KB]
Transportation Program Matrix [PDF - 390 KB]