Why Rural? Why Now?


Where and how do you want to live?

Thriving rural communities are demonstrating that people from diverse backgrounds, devoted to creating a preferred future, can generate economic opportunity, robust social engagement and the chance for civic involvement that matters. It requires empowered, future-focused leadership reaching for the best in every individual.

The sustainability of humankind may depend on our success in developing that kind of leadership, and encouraging smaller communities to prosper.

Chuck Schroeder
RFI Founding Executive Director

What is “rural”?

of the U.S. population (46.2 million people)

of the nation’s land mass

According to the US Census Bureau, “rural” is defined as counties with a population less than 50,000 residents.






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Diversity & Inclusion

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Population Decline

Health Care Access

Broadband Access

Resources from the University of Nebraska


Behavioral Health Education Center of Nebraska (BHECN)
Recruits & educates students in behavioral health fields and trains & retains professionals already in the workforce.


Buffett Early Childhood Institute
Transforming the lives of young children by improving their learning and development.


Center for Great Plains Studies
Fosters the study of the people and the environment of Great Plains, while operating the Great Plains Art Museum and the Plains Humanities Alliance.


Center for Entrepreneurship and Rural Development
Focuses on innovation, outreach, collaboration, research and education in rural communities.


Community Vitality Initiative
Making the good life great.


Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program
Builds enterprises that contribute value to agriculture and communities by nurturing, challenging and equipping entrepreneurial talent.


National Center for Research on Rural Education
Works to improve rural educational access and establish an infrastructure for conducting research and leadership related to rural education.


Nebraska Bureau of Business Research
Applied economic and business research entity of the College of Business at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Nebraska Business Development Center
Helps strengthen Nebraska businesses for a healthy economy and prosperous communities.


Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families and Schools
Conducts research through grant-funded projects, provide comprehensive grant support, and share research findings across audiences and platforms.


Nebraska Rural Poll
Annual survey that gathers the aggregated voice of rural Nebraskans and relays its findings to state lawmakers, ensuring the rural voice is heard.


Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute
Combines the best of the University’s expertise in water and food to address the challenges of improving the use and management of water in agriculture.


Rural Health Programs
The University of Nebraska Medical Center addresses the special needs of rural Nebraska by encouraging rural residents to pursue health care careers.


Rural Health Opportunities Program
Addresses the special needs of rural Nebraska by encouraging rural residents to pursue a career in the health care fields.


Rural Law Opportunities Program
Aims to ensure all Nebraskans have access to legal representation by encouraging the practice of law in the state’s rural communities.



Additional Resources



If you would like to submit a response to the “Why Rural? Why Now?” questions or additional resources, please do so by emailing us at ruralfutures@nebraska.edu. Submissions will be reviewed on a monthly basis by the RFI team and incorporated as appropriate. Thank you!