Partners of the Center for Midwestern Initatives

The Rural School and Community Trust’s Center for Midwestern Initiative’s collaborative model enables partners to work together in flexible and mutually beneficial ways. It is an organization where people can opt in—an open network, a group of people passionately committed to strengthening rural schools in the heartland in ways appropriate to their respective organizations and communities.

The Rural Trust’s director of policy, Marty Strange, has long advocated for regional approaches to rural school development.  CMI embodies this belief.  The open, on-the-ground model provides a network for distributing research and policy information important to educators and to rural advocates. In addition, this website and related efforts allows students, teachers, and communities to tell their stories and share their perspectives on the work.

The Rural Trust is a national catalyst for creating regional infrastructure to support local rural education efforts.  The people, organizations, and programs highlighted on this site are dedicated to this end.


Jim Beddow, South Dakota, Rural Learning Center, RSCT board member, CMI advisory council

Renee Carr, Arkansas, Rural Community Alliance, CMI advisory council

Chris Craig, Missouri, Drury University, CMI advisory council member

Doug Christensen, Nebraska, Doane College, RSCT board member, CMI advisory council

Paydan Clayton, Missouri, CMI intern

Elizabeth Drake, Illinois, CMI intern

Lyn Forester, Nebraska, Doane College

Gary Funk, Illinois, RSCT Center for Midwestern Initiatives (CMI)

Josh Gibb, Illinois, Galesburg Community Foundation

Lavina Grandon, Arkansas, Rural Community Alliance, RSCT board member

Don Hamby, Missouri State University Rural Education Center, CMI advisory council member

Jason Helfer, Illinois, Knox College

Sheena Leano, Illinois, CMI intern

Julie Leeth, Missouri, Community Foundation of the Ozarks

Emily Oliver, Illinois, CMI intern

Ray Patrick, Missouri Association of Rural Education

Ricky Rolfsmeyer, Wisconsin Rural Partners  

Stephen Schroth, Illinois, Knox College

Carol Silvey, Missouri, Community Foundation of the Ozarks, CMI advisory council member

Doris Williams, North Carolina, RSCT, CMI advisory council member