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The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented challenge for the entire country and the world, but especially for vulnerable people, organizations and businesses. In times of crisis, it is more important than ever that we stay well informed and connected. Locally and nationally, we are working with policymakers, partners and funders to determine the best ways to provide support and resources and will continually update you as we go.
In 1995, the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), a community development support organization working in metropolitan areas across the country, launched Rural LISC, a national program created to expand LISC's reach beyond urban areas to include rural communities. Today, Rural LISC partners with 88 rural community-based organizations, including five financial intermediaries, helping them identify challenges and opportunities, and delivering the most appropriate support to meet local needs. Together we are working to transform communities in more than 2,200 counties across 45 states.
Recognizing that rural communities' needs are not focused on agriculture alone, Rural LISC provides a wide range of services, including training, technical assistance, information and financial support, to help rural community developers address the problems rural communities face. We use our Comprehensive Community Development Strategy to support our Partners in expanding investment in housing and real estate, increasing family income and wealth, stimulating economic development, improving access to quality education, and growing healthy environments and lifestyles.
Leading names in sports and entertainment joined community leaders and families in Loiza, Puerto Rico, to celebrate the first baseball fields restored through Play Ball Again, a LISC program that aims to revive 25 Little League facilities for 17,500 boys and girls across the island. Funded through strong collaborations with Maestro Cares Foundation, Good Bunny Foundation, UNICEF USA, Chicago Cubs Charities and Kohler Company, the program is focused on urban and rural communities that were hit hard by Hurricanes Maria and Irma.
Rural LISC is proud to feature our two newest partners in this month’s Partner in the Spotlight series. With the support of U.S. Bank, Rural LISC launched a competitive search and recently welcomed two Illinois organizations into the Rural LISC Partner Network: Illinois Community Action Development Corporation (ICADC) in Springfield and Elevate CCIC, Inc., a part of Mattoon in Motion, in Mattoon, Ill.
A new mapping tool provides data and information to catalog opportunities and difficulties in local rural economies. The organization that created the maps says the data visualization tools are designed to help policymakers, investors, funders and local economic developers create jobs and development in rural communities. The Center on Rural Innovation’s (CORI) Rural Opportunity Map was released last week.