Final Listening Sessions Report: Investing in Rural Capacity


The four Regional Rural Development Centers (RRDCs) conducted a rapid assessment of priorities for investments in rural community development. The overarching purpose was to identify the critical resources needed to build community capacity and improve quality of life in rural America. Conducted via an iterative process from Fall 2021 to Spring 2022, the assessment is from the perspective of stakeholders working in the rural development spaces.

This process was divided into two phases:

• Phase 1: In Fall 2021, an online survey was distributed to stakeholders, which focused on eight topical areas that often impact rural recovery. Survey findings informed the development of the second phase.

• Phase 2: In Spring 2022, eight virtual listening sessions focused on identifying what is needed to fill the gaps between rural communities’ assets and opportunities. These facilitated dialogues, which included interactive technologies, asked participants to think about Extension/education, research, and other investments that were needed, and to prioritize them by the most pressing areas for intervention.

In summary, the combination of findings from the survey and listening sessions underscore stakeholder priorities as those efforts that will advance organizational capacity, as well as funding and development opportunities, especially through research and Extension efforts. While these issues have been explored through the Rapid Assessment of Stakeholder Priorities conducted by the RRDCs throughout 2021-2022, additional work is needed to build upon this work and to activate positive impacts in the field of rural development.

Read the full report via the Rural Regional Development Center website

To view the interactive dashboard, survey snapshots, and other reports, visit