Rural Connect is a five-year, early-phase Education Innovation and Research grant awarded to NEFEC by the US Department of Education. Rural Connect is a solution for empowering rural educators as advocates in their professional learning, giving voice and choice to teachers who otherwise operate in isolation from their peers. Through a network of regional learning communities focused on integrating literacy into content-area curriculum, Rural Connect provides a platform for cross-district, teacher-led learning and practice-connected support that is crucial to the growth and retention of educators in small, rural districts.

The three main goals of Rural Connect are:

  • Increase achievement and literacy engagement of high-need, rural students;
  • Increase collective efficacy and motivation of rural teachers; and
  • Refine an innovative, replicable model for rural professional learning, collaboration, and support.

In addition to serving 11 eligible NEFEC school districts, Rural Connect will also expand to include 18 small, rural school districts in the Panhandle Area Educational Consortium and the Heartland Educational Consortium.