Encouraging Rural Citizens To Become Civically & Electorally Engaged At All Levels Of Government
New Rural Project
New Rural Project (NRP) is a non-partisan 501(c)(4) non-profit organization that engages young and marginalized residents in rural communities to amplify their voices through increased civic and electoral engagement.
NRP works to eliminate barriers to engagement by listening to rural stakeholders and working together to develop community-driven solutions.
NRP is focused on seven North Carolina counties that are some of the most economically distressed in the state, with higher than average unemployment rates and declining populations. NRP believes that the key to improving these communities is engaging the citizens to fully participate in the civic and electoral process so that their voices are heard at all levels of government.
The NRP Approach
NRP convenes and leads “County Conversations’’ in each of our focus counties. These conversations are with a bi-partisan group of community leaders, non-profit leaders, faith leaders, sorority/fraternity leaders, etc. The conversations give us invaluable feedback and ideas that informs our work and has a significant impact on the community.
NRP conducts focus groups of voters and non-voters led by experienced research firms with expertise in rural areas. The methodology takes into account that broadband access is a known issue for rural counties. Listening activities include individual direct interviews and small group focus sessions.
NRP directly engages with people in each community to gain a better understanding of their priorities and support their biggest needs. We know access to healthcare is one critical issue in our rural communities, so we engage with rural partners on vaccination events throughout our focus counties.
We also need to connect the dots between civic engagement – voting, serving on boards, advocacy – and a person’s day-to-day life. One way we are doing that is by developing educational and leadership programs for civic engagement at the local, state, and federal level.
One-on-one conversations with large numbers of infrequent and non-voters in these rural communities is critical. Using volunteer and paid canvassers to talk directly to citizens, we will identify the barriers to electoral participation along with key issues and concerns.
Understanding the hurdles to voting and priorities of rural citizens is critical to developing tangible, barrier-breaking solutions that get results.