In the Rural Arena, you'll have a chance to discuss your foundation, its mission, and your work with other leaders from around the country. We will have a small resource area set up to provide your organization with high visibility throughout the conference. Space is limited. To discuss opportunities, please contact Rochelle Colclough at or 704-688-9782.

Please note that to significantly reduce the price of conference registration, meals during plenary sessions are not provided unless indicated. The conference hotel is conveniently located within walking distance of numerous restaurants for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, so please enjoy the local cuisine with your colleagues.

Download the conference program book.

Monday, July 25

9 a.m.Registration Opens
10 a.m.Preconference Session: Disaster Grantmaking and Preparedness
Funders often need to act quickly and effectively after a disaster strikes. Join four leaders involved with various aspects of disaster grantmaking as they discuss preparedness and mitigation, coordination with regional leaders, and effective long-term recovery strategies.

Speakers: Regine Webster, executive director, Center for Disaster Philanthropy; John Cooper, program director, MDC, Margaret Doughty, founder, Literacy Powerline; Jean Paul Chaurand, senior vice president, Greater Kansas City Community Foundation
12:30 p.m.Opening Plenary - Demographics in Rural America
During the next few decades, rural communities will experience significant demographic shifts in their populations. Dr. Robert Groves, director of the U.S. Census Bureau, and Mil Duncan, research director, AGree, will discuss these trends and provide you with some of the future scenarios rural communities will encounter due to their changing populations. Learn the best way to prepare for the future, and participate in a dialogue with the speakers and other audience members.

Speakers: Dr. Robert Groves, Director, US Census Bureau; Mil Duncan, Research Director, AGree
2:30 p.m.Break
3 p.m.Concurrent Sessions: Round One

The Rural Philanthropy conference consists of three themed tracks focusing on different factors important for rural communities and philanthropy. Attendees will choose one track to follow throughout the course of the conference. Each concurrent session in a track will involve highly interactive discussions led by funders to ensure attendees share their own experiences and explore best practices most suitable for their communities or regions.
Track One: Identifying Community Assets
This session provides an introduction to the Rural Development Philanthropy framework, a community-led approach that creates locally controlled assets and invests them to strengthen rural areas. You’ll look at a range of philanthropic assets and discuss successful ways of growing them.

Speakers: Janet Topolsky, Community Strategies Group, Aspen Institute; Peter Pennekamp, Humboldt Area Foundation; Sherry Ristau, Southwest Initiative Foundation; Racheal Stuart, New Hampshire Charitable Foundation; Nancy Van Milligen, Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque; Jeff Yost, Nebraska Community Foundation
Track Two: The Importance of Successful Advocacy Campaigns
How do you build momentum to affect public policy and educate policymakers? Leaders from the Center for Lobbying in the Public Interest and the Alliance for Justice will provide a tutorial on effective advocacy roles and the components of successful advocacy campaigns.

Speakers: Abby Levine, legal director of advocacy programs, Alliance for Justice; Erin Skene-Pratt, consultant, Skene-Pratt Consulting
Track Three: An Orientation on Economic Regionalism
Rural areas have embraced various forms of economic regionalism for decades. You’ll learn the basic components of regionalism, discover how funders have employed the concept, and examine case studies. Speaker: Brian Dabson, vice president and COO, RUPRI, and director, Rural Futures Lab
4:30 p.m.Break
6 p.m.Networking Event – An Up Close Look at America's Pastime (Dinner Provided)
Through the gracious hospitality of the Laura McKnight, Brenda Chumley and the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation, join us for an evening with friends at the Kansas City Royals Ballpark. We will have an opportunity to hear the history of the Royals organization, its ties with the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation and a chance to tour the infield, the visitor's dugout and locker room while the Royals are playing out of town. You don't want to miss this terrific opportunity to relive every Little Leaguers dream of playing in the Major Leagues!

Tuesday, July 26

8:30 a.m.Morning Plenary - Keeping the Transfer of Wealth at Home in Rural America
In an era of severe budget cuts and government gridlock, rural communities face significant financial challenges. At the same time, studies have found many rural communities harbor tremendous wealth. Hear from rural leaders who are not only sustaining this wealth but using it to improve their communities. You’ll leave this plenary session with ideas for taking advantage of wealth transfer in your own community.

Speakers: Don Macke, director of strategic engagement, Center for Rural Entrepreneurship; Bob Sutton, president, South Dakota Community Foundation; Jeff Pickering, president and CEO, Kern Community Foundation; Donnell Mersereau, vice president, community foundations, Council of Michigan Foundations; Jeff Yost, president and CEO, Nebraska Community Foundation; Steve Gunderson, president and CEO, Council on Foundations
9:45 a.m.Break
10 a.m. Concurrent Sessions: Round Two

Track One: The Keys to Building Financial Assets
Review the different types of philanthropic assets in rural communities, then learn how to build and capture them. Come prepared to share stories from your region with other attendees.
Track Two: Raising Awareness of Community Issues Through Advocacy
Community engagement and education is critical to build awareness and develop successful advocacy campaigns. Hear from individuals leading this work as they share their stories and answer questions to help you develop a plan for your own campaign.
Track Three: Economic Regionalism in Action
Hear an in-depth analysis of ways economic regionalism has worked in various parts of the country and see how rural leaders have sustained regional rural economies.
11:30 a.m.Break
NoonLunch Plenary - A Conversation with Henry Bloch and Tom Bloch (Lunch Provided)
Originally from the Kansas City area, the Bloch family has been instrumental in the success of many of the region's major initiatives. In 1955 Henry and his brother Richard founded H&R Block, which today is the largest commercial tax preparation firm in the world. Tom, Henry's son, followed in his father's footsteps, serving as the company's CEO before resigning in 1995 to become a math teacher and the co-founder of University Academy, an urban college preparatory charter school. Tom's book, Many Happy Returns, explores the essential aspirations and indispensable philosophies of Henry Bloch and provides fresh insights into the importance of social entrepreneurship and strategic philanthropy in today's society. Please join us to hear Henry and Tom's personal philanthropic stories firsthand.

Speakers: Henry Bloch, Co-Founder and Honorary Chairman of the Board, H&R Block; Tom Bloch, Founder, University Academy and Author of Many Happy Returns: The Story of Henry Bloch, America's Tax Man
1:30 p.m.Break
2 p.m.Concurrent Sessions

Track One: Leave No Resource Uncovered
Financial resources are important, but they can’t always solve a problem. Funders and leaders can use other assets to build and sustain long-term community viability.
Track Two: Successful Public-Philanthropic Partnerships
Public-philanthropic partnerships have enjoyed great success, but navigating the complexities of these partnerships can stop a project before it even starts. You’ll examine two case studies featuring thriving partnerships to learn the keys to working with federal agencies.
Track Three: Regional Economic Development: Keys for Success
Access to capital and higher education are two key components for success. Hear about ways to implement programs that spur development.
4:15 p.m.Roundtable Discussions
Join representatives from federal agencies and foundation leaders for a discussion about government grant programs and legislation affecting rural philanthropy. Funders will have an opportunity to share their insights to ensure that rural communities are fully represented in guidelines for agency grants and other government funding programs. Join a discussion:

Rural Philanthropy Growth Act
Roosevelt Room

Nebraska Community Foundation President and CEO Jeff Yost and the Council's Government Relations team will lead a discussion on the Rural Philanthropy Growth Act, an outline for legislation that would encourage community leadership and community philanthropy to revitalize and sustain rural communities throughout America.

Rural Sustainable Housing and Communities
Truman A

Officials from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will talk about the many new programs and grants available for rural communities as part of the Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities. HUD is also seeking insight from rural funders about how to partner most effectively with rural regions.

Rural Education
Truman B

Rural communities face many unique education challenges. Suzanne Immerman, special assistant to the director of Philanthropic Engagement at the Department of Education, will discuss ways to improve outreach and service to rural educators and students, and solicit ideas on improving grant funding processes to rural areas.
5:15 p.m.Campaign for Grade-Level Reading Reception
Colonial Ballroom

Learn more about the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, a collaborative effort to close the gap in reading achievement that separates many low-income students from their peers; raise the bar for reading proficiency so that all students are assessed by world-class standards; and ensure that all children, especially those from low-income families, can meet those standards. Heavy hors d'oeuvres and refreshments will be provided.

Wednesday, July 27

8:30 a.m.Morning Plenary - A Look Back: The National Rural Funders Collaborative
For the past ten years the National Rural Funders' Collaborative has expanded resources for families and communities in regions of persistent poverty, especially areas where concentrations of poverty and communities of color overlap. In the plenary we will hear about the successes and lessons learned from the funders' and grantees' perspectives.

Speaker: Jim Richardson, executive director, National Rural Funders Collaborative
10 a.m.Break
10:30 a.m.Closing Plenary - Defining Philanthropy's Role in Society
Public policy's impact in rural communities has been significant for many decades. However, with a government that is both broke and broken, rural communities should expect significant changes in how public policy will shape rural economies and services. In this plenary we will hear about government's future role in rural America and how philanthropy can best define its role in this changing environment.

Speaker: Tom Vilsack, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture
12 p.m.Legislative Update
After the closing plenary, Chatrane Birbal, the Council’s director of Government Relations, will provide an update on the latest events and legislation developing on Capitol Hill and its effects on philanthropy. Box lunches will be provided for all participants.