Lincoln, Neb. —With some slight changes, the Rural Futures Institute at the University of Nebraska has moved ahead with its 2020 Rural Futures Institute fellows program, pairing students with 17 rural communities across the Cornhusker State.
The 17 fellows — which include 14 from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln — work directly with community leaders on projects that aim to improve workforce development, economic development, access and recruitment and retention of residents. Projects are specifically focused on early childhood education; community marketing and communications; entrepreneurship; mental health services; and inclusion.
In previous years, the fellows have lived within or worked face-to-face with communities. However, due to COVID-19, the program shifted this year to primarily online or socially distant interactions.
During the last two years, Rural Futures Institute Fellows have averaged $28,000 of impact per community. In 2019, the total economic impact for the four participating communities was $111,844.