Our goal is to make every place a community of opportunity. Unfortunately, some areas are being left behind more than others as our global and national economies continue to shift. Rural communities are among them. The people who have toiled in the coal mines of Kentucky and West Virginia, as well as in the paper and textile mills in Maine and western North Carolina, have not fared well in the changing economy. Likewise, the historically disenfranchised Native Americans in the Southwest, Latinos in the border colonias and the residents of the disaster-plagued Delta are struggling to survive. Our country needs to bring opportunity back to these regions and their people.
Although rural America accounts for less than 20 percent of the country's overall population, 85 percent of persistent-poverty counties are outside of metro areas. Yet at the same time, there are so many examples of people and organizations doing good work; they just need support and the resources to go to scale. Special attention clearly is required, and that's why we formed the Rural Initiative.