Thrive Rural Framework: Building Blocks

To spark new ways of thinking, the Thrive Rural Framework is designed to be looked at in many ways. At its core, the framework identifies building blocks for equitable prosperity at the local and systems levels. 

There are common elements that are present at both levels. Each element is meant to spark conversation and support assessment of the design and outcomes of policies and programs. 

  • Rural voice and power. Who speaks for rural communities? Do people have what they need to participate? Is this voice inclusive and unified? Is there an accurate narrative about rural communities in media and dialogue? 
  • Equitable aims and design. How are projects/policies being designed? Who ultimately benefits? Have previously excluded voices been taken into account? Are projects and policies aligned, or are they working at cross-purposes?
  • Resources for productive action. Is there leadership, resources, and data available to take action? Are structures in place to enable this action? Do all these factors encourage collaboration at the regional level?


Local-Level Building Blocks focus on conditions on the ground in rural places that individual communities or regions can work on by themselves.


Systems-Level Building Blocks are elements that must be true but are outside the local community’s direct control. 

These building blocks focus on conditions that can only be changed through regional and national cooperation, though communities can (and must) act together to influence them. Systems-level building blocks promote advocacy and collaboration by involving stakeholders inside and outside individual communities.

The framework is designed to be a living tool, so please share your insights about things that are missing or ways it should change.

Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group