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.​ Visit our Past Programs section to see what the first two cohorts accomplished for their communities.

We’re here to help get you started.

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An Uncommon Communities cohort comprises groups of 5-7 citizens from different communities in Arkansas. Applications are currently being accepted on a rolling basis. We will select up to 5 communities to participate in each Uncommon Communities cohort.


With assistance from the Institute, each applicant from each community will be required to raise a total of $240 in registration fees to be paid over the course of a one-year program, and minimal travel costs.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • As individuals, participants learn how to build and sustain support for community-wide initiatives, connect with a broad network of people, gain access to technical expertise, and practice turning a problem into an opportunity for community growth and revitalization.
  • As a community, teams work together to identify their unique strengths and broad-based challenges, generate inclusive solutions, prioritize strategies, and develop projects.
  • As a cohort, communities establish a culture of mutual respect and understanding that fosters regional collaboration. 

While providing participants with the skills and structure necessary to begin strengthening their communities, Uncommon Communities is designed to prepare and connect community teams with next-level development programs throughout the state.

If you are interested in assembling a group to participate in Uncommon Communities, we encourage you to have conversations with your neighbors about your interest in the program. Speak with city council members, local nonprofit managers, and business, faith, and education leaders. Need more ideas or help crafting the right message? Email us at programs@uawri.org.

Contact Person

Are you interested in organizing your community to participate in Uncommon Communities? Would your organization like to sponsor this program? Do you have a great idea for a speaker or a topic you think we simply must address with your group? Let Lizz know!

Lizz Wagner

Programs & Education Assistantlwagner@rockefellerinstitute.org(501) 727-6257