Rural Prosperity Nebraska was founded in 2020 to support Nebraska's rural communities' efforts to grow and thrive. Rural Prosperity Nebraska is housed within the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.
We harness boots-on-the-ground efforts of Nebraska Extension professionals working in six focus areas; the capacity-building of SourceLink, the rural scholarship of faculty members from across the University of Nebraska system; data from the Nebraska Rural Poll and the Nebraska Thriving Index; service-learning projects that Rural Fellows carry out in communities across Nebraska each year, and more.
A team of Nebraska Extension professionals across the state will work hand-in-hand with local, regional and state leaders, as well as with NU students and faculty, to advance rural communities. This work will fall under six main pillars:
Nebraska Extension professionals will actively engage Nebraskans in building vibrant communities where businesses thrive, youth and young adults are engaged, and everyone has an equitable opportunity to succeed. Extension will connect residents with resources within and outside the University of Nebraska system, to help them define and achieve their community goals.
PEOPLE ATTRACTION & RETENTION
A thriving community depends on the people who live there. People are behind the energy, culture, and personality of our villages, towns and cities. Their needs and vision drive the services, businesses and amenities that make up the local economy. Retaining residents and attracting new ones is key to the future of our communities and their ability to thrive.
LEADERSHIP & COMMUNITY CAPACITY BUILDING
Community capacity is the ability of a community to take on its own development. By building capacity, a community becomes better able to envision, engage in and sustain smart and robust community economic development that ultimately leads to greater prosperity. Central to community capacity building is community leadership. Empowered and effective leadership can help a community optimize its potential, stretch its vision and mobilize resources necessary for investing in itself. Our field work supports the view that there is massive potential to increase the capacity of communities to undertake and sustain development.
ECONOMY & ENTREPRENEURSHIP
Every community must grow a vibrant, competitive, and resilient economy. Our evolving portfolio of tools and programs can be tailored to a community’s assets and aspirations. Our belief is that by helping communities help themselves, communities build a foundation for long-term sustainability and grow into destinations for new residents, new businesses,and renewed vitality.
What gives a community its charm? What makes it unique? It may be a vibrant downtown, a strong sense of shared history or cultural heritage, beautiful parks, a thriving arts scene or a community’s embracement of diversity. These elements can make a community a destination, and embracing and cultivating what makes your community unique and welcoming can help drive future success.
REGIONAL FOOD SYSTEMS
The Regional Food System team is poised to assist all Nebraskans to become better acquainted with their food system and to work with communities across the state to embark on building a food system that meets the needs of everyone. We do this through grant making, education, convening and facilitating.
Community leaders can use these and other resources to design vibrant futures for their hometowns, which in turn will lead to a vibrant future for Nebraska.
We believe vibrant and successful rural communities are foundational to the future of rural Nebraska and are critical to the success of our state as a whole. Strong rural communities drive our strong agricultural economy and vice versa. Our rural communities embody the ingenuity, strong work ethic, resilience and grit that collectively define Nebraska.