Rural Development Initiatives (RDI) is a nonprofit organization committed to supporting rural communities in today’s challenging economy. One of RDI’s primary methods of vitalizing rural communities is its Rural Community Leadership Program, a highly interactive course that is designed for a varied set of community members.
Innovia Foundation, Avista and Empire Health Foundation are the primary investors in the first year of this three-year initiative, providing $60,000 to support RDI’s Leadership Program in the Greater Palouse region. The course consists of 45 class hours spread out over six months, and RDI covers all program and catering costs for participants. A nominating committee of community leaders selects potential participants with a diverse range of vocational backgrounds; a class generally consists of between 25 and 35 individuals of varying ages.
Training sessions emphasize interaction and are adaptable to fit the knowledge and skills of class members. The class chooses a community project to collaborate on over the course of the six months, allowing participants to apply their freshly learned leadership and teamwork skills in a way that directly betters the surrounding community. The vast majority of graduates report that the program improved their volunteerism, social networks, collaborative abilities and visions for their communities.