Learning Through Convening: Top Conferences for Rural Prosperity

Rural communities are incredibly diverse, each with its own history, culture, and industrial and demographic mix. Attending convenings can help rural funders, organizations, and practitioners share their perspectives, learn from one another, and highlight common goals. 

The Thrive Rural Framework breaks down how convenings help advance equitable rural prosperity by providing space for: 

  • Aligning rural fields and actors. Rural community development practitioners and intermediaries can align their strategies to boost organizational development, innovation, and policy change.
  • Collaboration on a cohesive rural policy lens. Federal and state governments that cohesively design the implementation and regulations in policy and law can provide more streamlined public resources for rural.
  • Shaping an accurate rural narrative. It’s important for media and storytelling to accurately portray the history, lived experience, and cultural and geographic diversity of rural communities and Native nations.

There are many great rural convenings out there, and this is not an exhaustive list. Please contact us with more that should be included!  

11 Conferences for Rural Prosperity:

Annual Native CDFI Capital Access Convening 

  • Oweesta Corporation’s annual Native CDFI Capital Access Convening (CAC) is a multi-day event of unparalleled training for Native CDFIs, a closed-door session of funders and investors, and networking opportunities. View the recordings and presentations from the event here.

National Association of Counties (NACo) Legislative Conference

  • The largest meeting of county elected and appointed officials from across the country. Participants from counties of all sizes come together to shape NACo’s federal policy agenda, share proven practices and strengthen knowledge networks to help improve residents’ lives and the efficiency of county government.

National Community Action Partnership Annual Convention 

  • Community Action Partnership is a national, 501(c)3 nonprofit membership organization that provides technical assistance, training, and other resources to Community Action Agencies, nonprofit and public groups funded by the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG). This federal program allocates funding to states to connect Americans to greater opportunity. Event calendar here.

National Rural Housing Conference 

  • The Housing Assistance Council brings together stakeholders in the field of rural affordable housing, from local nonprofits, federal agencies, Congress, state and local governments, and other industry leaders, for two-and-a-half days of training, discussion, and networking.

National Tribal Health Conference 

  • The National Tribal Health Board’s conference explores health policy and its impact on Tribes, advances Tribal capacity to expand policy work, and serves as a forum to discuss policy and political work in the arenas of Tribal health care, public, behavioral, and environmental health.

Opportunity Finance Network (OFN) Conference

  • Opportunity Finance Network (OFN) is the leading national network of CDFIs and a financial intermediary. OFN increases capital flow, strengthens CDFIs, and amplifies the voice of the CDFI industry. They partner with investors, funders, and policymakers to align capital with opportunity.

Prosperity Summit — Prosperity Now

  • The Prosperity Summit’s mission is to convene all people with the shared goal of creating a more equitable economy to discuss how to reduce wealth inequity and open the door to opportunity for everyone, especially people of color, in the United States.

Radically Rural Summit 

  • Radically Rural, as a summit, started in 2018 as a partnership between the Hannah Grimes Center for Entrepreneurship and The Keene Sentinel. A small town summit at which experts in the arts, downtowns, entrepreneurship, land use, clean energy, healthcare, and journalism could gather and share thoughts on sustainable, thriving rural communities. 

Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP) National Conference

  • RCAP offers interactive, participant-based in-person, and online training and workshop opportunities led by subject matter experts on a wide range of topics to support small, rural communities. Topics can range from subjects related to serving small water, wastewater, and solid waste systems to broader economic and community development issues.   

Rural LISC Annual Seminar

  • Each year, Rural LISC organizes and presents a multi-day Seminar for Rural LISC Partners and stakeholders. The Seminar provides rural practitioners the opportunity to gather and share challenges, opportunities, and emerging trends in the field. It features workshops and plenaries, conversations with nationally recognized community development leaders, and a wealth of networking opportunities.

RuralRISE Summit

  • Recognizing that innovation and entrepreneurship are blind to location, RuralRISE seeks to increase the opportunities, increase accessibility, and spotlight innovation, entrepreneurial, and startup activities that work in a rural context.
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