Our Expertise

Thrive Rural

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CSG’s Thrive Rural Framework calls for an asset-based approach and working across local and system levels of change to clarify and address the underlying factors that must be true to create prosperous rural communities.

Our work and learnings in this space inform and ground our entire portfolio — especially The Foundational Element, a race, place, and class equity lens.

Regional and Rural Development

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CSG shapes the principles and practices of regional wealth building as the means to better economic development policy and practice in the United States.

Wealth building is about doing economic development differently. It widens the focus beyond the core goals of profit, income, and job creation – today’s typical development targets. Instead, it also includes the essential goals of strengthening the critical non-financial assets that will sustain profit, jobs, and income into the future. It also ensures that development strategies increase opportunity and improve outcomes for people, places, and firms pushed to the margins.

In a regional context, wealth building is an approach to community and economic development that leverages, maintains, and grows the multiple assets that provide the base for a region’s more prosperous future. It seeks to increase locally-rooted ownership and control of those assets and helps low-income households and businesses get ahead by always including them in the design and benefits of economic development strategies.

CSG helps to organize and advance initiatives that bring together diverse leaders across geographic regions to understand wealth building, discover common ground, and devise action that will make their place better for all to live and work in. Since 2011, CSG has actively engaged in WealthWorks, a national effort to advance regional wealth-building as a mainstream community and economic development practice. 

As part of a network of organizations advancing WealthWorks, CSG has assisted regional leaders in understanding and applying the approach and has developed a wide range of tools, videos, and success stories to catalyze communities to action.

Community Development Philanthropy

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CSG is building the number and capacity of community- and region-focused foundations that are taking leadership on – and making a significant difference in – improving the economy and livelihoods in their places.

For more than 20 years, CSG has worked with place-rooted community and regional foundations – and place-focused national and regional foundations – to better understand the wide range of assets and tools they can develop and deploy to strengthen local communities and economies.

We engage one-on-one with foundations in strategic planning, board development, community analysis, program design, and geographic affiliate and fund development. We organize and facilitate multi-year peer-learning clusters for community foundations.

This work has included the creation of several Community Leadership Networks with CFLeads for foundations taking leadership on critical issues in their communities. In 2015, CSG began a partnership with the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship to advance Community Development Philanthropy – helping community and regional foundations play new and stronger roles in building family, community, and regional prosperity.

Whole Family Prosperity

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CSG builds the capacity of practitioners and policymakers to help families on the economic margins earn more, keep more of what they earn, and grow what they keep into assets for themselves and their communities.

CSG’s Whole Family Prosperity (WFP) effort focuses on two goals: understanding and delivering family-focused results and readying a community for WFP action and collaboration. These echo the oft-cited watchwords of the Annie E. Casey Foundation: Children do well when families do well, and families do better when they live in supportive communities.

Whole Family Prosperity means that families can meet their immediate needs and are working to achieve a secure financial future for themselves and their children. Focusing on what it really takes for low-income families to succeed economically offers a way for leaders to build and strengthen community strategies and policies to support them.

Our Whole Family Prosperity Frameworks – named “Earn It, Keep It, Grow It” – detail the set of family-focused results that, taken together, paint the picture of what it looks like when families have all the factors in place that they need to make progress and succeed in the economy. 

The “Earn It, Keep It, Grow It” frameworks concentrate on increasing three types of stability: the capacity and supports essential to earn an income, making good choices about borrowing and spending, and saving and increasing assets over time

Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group