Rural Prosperity Research Project

Research & Engagement, 2016




The purpose of this project is to build the capacity of a cohort of rural communities to effectively create conditions for a more prosperous future by:

This project applies a systems approach designed to achieve systemic change. The community engagement framework focuses on the “three essentials” of demographic renewal, increasing economic opportunity and improving quality of life place making. The research team focuses on the three outcome areas of the project (demographic renewal, economic opportunity and place making) and works to study the impacts of three tracks of research:



Baseline Community Profiles are created for each community/region that participates in this project. The profiles are intended to stimulate deeper conversations around longer-term demographic and economic opportunities.

Work is now under way to explore how to integrate activities central to this work within the overall programmatic activities of Nebraska Extension’s Community Vitality Initiative programming. The Prosperity Communities team is exploring how to integrate other Extension projects – Marketing Hometown America, Entrepreneurial Communities Activation Process (ECAP), and Community Readiness programs.


Project Team



  • Randy Cantrell (RFI Fellow), University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Rural Futures Institute
  • Lindsay Hastings, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Nebraska Human Resources Institute
  • Kim Wilson (RFI Fellow), University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Landscape Architecture Program
  • David Drozd, University of Nebraska at Omaha, Center for Public Affairs Research
  • Don Macke (RFI Fellow), Center for Rural Entrepreneurship
  • Deborah Markley, Center for Rural Entrepreneurship
  • Milan Wall (RFI Fellow), Heartland Center for Leadership Development
  • Jeff Yost (RFI Fellow), Nebraska Community Foundation
  • Janet Topolsky, The Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group
  • Travis Green, The Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group
  • Kristin Feierabend, The Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group


Contact: Chuck Hibberd,