Uncommon Communities is a leadership, community and economic development program developed by the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute and founded upon the research and methodology of Dr. Vaughn Grisham, Emeritus Director of the University of Mississippi’s McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement.
This program equips a group of community leaders to work together in the areas of leadership, economic development, education, workforce development, and quality of life and place.
The group of communities who comprised Cohort 2020 were Beebe, Cabot, Heber Springs, and Sherwood. Major funding for the initiative was provided by Presenting Partner First Electric Cooperative and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Our pilot program focused on five counties in the vicinity of the Institute: Conway, Perry, Pope, Van Buren and Yell. All of these counties are largely rural and had poverty rates between 17% and 23%. They lost 1,249 jobs between 2007 and 2013 and had unemployment rates that were 109% of the state average.
We provided statewide and national expertise in our carefully crafted series of bi-monthly development and training sessions at the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute beginning on August 28, 2015. Participants were connected to a broad network of partners provided by the Institute and Breakthrough Solutions Partners. These resource partners were also available to help participants realize their on-the-ground goals between the sessions on the mountain.
If you have any questions about Uncommon Communities, or would like to know how you or your community can become involved, reach out to Molly Thomason!