Using the Thrive Rural Framework: TAKING STOCK

Communities use many different tools to analyze conditions and help set priorities. Alongside other key tools, the Thrive Rural Framework provides a way to take stock of conditions in your community. It can help potential partners bridge key day-to-day issue areas, such as housing, employment, education, and economic development, to understand local conditions and broader systems that can support thriving rural families and communities.

These tools can help you identify where to focus to advance rural prosperity for all in your region, role, or system. The framework can be embedded in local, regional, state, or national planning and strategy processes and used to anchor conversations about priorities.


Communities use many different tools to analyze conditions and help set priorities. Some of these may be familiar to you. You can build on community assessment work that you have already done or conduct new assessments to gain a deeper understanding of your community. When conducting community assessments, remember to consider who participates in the assessment and whose voice may not be represented.


You can use the Thrive Rural framework alongside existing community planning processes. These existing community planning processes are also typically a good source of data for the Gauge Progress framework phase. When conducting new or using existing planning processes, consider who is involved and the processes used for creating the plan. Are all community members able to engage and contribute? 

Existing community planning process examples:

  • Comprehensive plans
    • “A comprehensive plan is a local government’s guide to community physical, social, and economic development. Comprehensive plans are not meant to serve as land use regulations in themselves; instead, they provide a rational basis for local land use decisions with a twenty-year vision for future planning and community decisions.” 
  • Community health improvement plans
  • Economic development plans
  • Rural transportation plans


Analyzing root causes and priority issues can help elicit additional helpful information to target action. Consider gathering varying perspectives on your root cause and issue analyses to ensure your findings represent the breadth of experience in your community.


The Thrive Rural Framework can be used alongside other frameworks to consider rural prosperity.

Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group